I suspect people in our country – whatever their political beliefs – will be grappling with the enormity of our recent election for years to come. Clearly it will be a while before new leadership is solidified and even longer to understand what they seriously intend to do. And then come the blows and counterblows (hopefully metaphorical). Maybe there will be some compromise, but that feels way beyond reach for now.
Meanwhile, incidents of racial slurs, violent protesters interrupting planned peaceful gatherings, and genuine fear for the present and future cast a pall over our city and especially those most targeted by bigotry, misogyny, racism, sexism, and prejudice of all kinds. I believe that this is not the Portland region we want, that we at RACC are committed to overcoming. That Portland is unacceptable.
We may not have sway over what’s happening in our capital, but certainly we can recommit to our beliefs, values and hopes for an ever-improving Portland for every single person. In that spirit, I share below RACC’s Equity Statement created and adopted by our entire staff and Board last year:
We believe that the arts have the power to change hearts and minds, and to inspire social change. Prejudice and privilege have created barriers that RACC must dismantle, systematically and strategically, until everyone in our community has equitable access to arts and culture.
We acknowledge that there is no one perfect way to achieve equity, but we are willing to take risks because there is much work to do. We are thoughtfully researching and implementing new methods of thinking within our organizational culture, starting with an in-depth assessment of our services, policies and procedures. We are seeking out and listening to voices that have not been heard, and fully engaging under-represented populations in dialogue that will help us improve.
We are committed to the full scope of this work and will hold ourselves accountable along the way—anything less would prove a disservice to ourselves and the communities we serve. RACC strives to be an organization that values and celebrates everyone’s life experiences, their voices and their histories. By consistently bringing new perspectives to our decision-making table, forming new relationships and alliances, and finding new ways to support creativity, RACC will be a strong, equitable and relevant organization. Throughout this process, we commit to humility, optimism and respect.
This is what we have promised to do and we strive to work every day with these goals foremost in mind and action. Our Board, days before the election, held a retreat to examine our roles in the community; to put our efforts in a larger west coast context; and to prioritize our actions for the near and long-term. At the end of the day equity was our Board’s number one, followed by clarification of our role and purpose, and working with multiple entities and individuals to address serious affordability issues for all people, for artists, and for arts organizations being priced out of living and working spaces. This must be addressed before it is too late.
Fundamental to achieving the optimum community we dream of are artists, arts providers, educators, cultural groups, creative problem solvers, innovators, visionary leaders of all kinds, youth, elders, and every citizen who wants to help. Tough times bring focus to this imperative work; clarify how important it is to work together toward shared goals; strengthen our resolve to create equal opportunities for all Portlanders; and encourage us to continue welcoming new Portlanders from around the globe to our Sanctuary City. We can do this and with everyone’s recommitment we will.
Local business owners Lisa Magnum and Jason Levian recently printed hundreds of colorful posters by hand at IPRC in an effort to help create safe places for all Portlanders. RACC has developed a slightly different version of their powerful poster – specifically including people with disabilities and all gender identities.
Together we can live by this statement and we happily make this poster available to others to use and to share:
Feel free to save and share the .jpg above, or click here to download as high-res PDF (11″ x 17″, 25KB)