Regional Arts & Culture Council sets course for new decade


>>Reorganization will focus resources and programs on artists and underserved communities

PORTLAND, ORE – The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) today announced organization-wide changes to reflect a new vision and priorities. Under the new vision, RACC will continue its core grantmaking programs, public art projects and arts education while expanding its advocacy and fundraising programs with a deeper focus on reaching underserved communities. As part of the changes RACC will eliminate 5 positions that are currently vacant, lay off an additional 15 employees, and hire 15 new positions to support RACC’s new focus areas.

The rollout comes after a year of planning led by RACC’s executive director, Madison Cario, and with the support of the board of directors. Additionally, the proposed changes are responsive to the City of Portland’s audit of RACC in 2018 and the city’s current budget priorities. The changes are effective immediately.

“We take this transition very seriously and deeply appreciate the work of RACC employees, especially those leaving the organization. These changes respond to what we are seeing and hearing from our community, and position RACC to better serve our region today and in the future,” said RACC board chair Linda McGeady.

“When RACC connects artists with resources, opportunities and each other, our communities become stronger. We have a vision of establishing RACC as a champion for arts and culture locally, regionally, and nationally,” stated the City of Portland’s Arts Commissioner, Chloe Eudaly. “The organizational changes proposed by RACC will help us all better achieve that vision.”

Additional details about the restructure include:

• Enhancing public awareness and engaging community members in culture, creativity and the arts through strategic investments and partnerships
• Creating an advocacy team to make the case to the public and partners about the value of arts education and the city’s Arts Education and Access Fund
• Increasing engagement in public art projects and collections, grantmaking and other publicly-funded arts programs and investments managed by RACC
• Demonstrating how the arts build livable communities by connecting to politics, education, economics, development, planning, and civic engagement
• Strengthening relationships with regional elected officials and policymakers at all governmental levels
• Advancing racial equity, diversity, inclusion and access both within the organization and in our work with community partners
• Better measuring and demonstrating the benefits to residents of investments in public art, arts education, arts and culture organizations and individual artists
• Applying best practices from around the country to measure public participation in and perception of the arts as a means of gauging effectiveness and making improvements.

“To achieve this vision, RACC needs to become more fiscally sustainable, diversify our funding sources and streamline our organization,” stated Cario, who took the helm of RACC one year ago following an 18-month national search. They added, “I’m excited to see what we can do when we focus on incubating new ideas, innovating the role of an arts council in today’s world. I am inspired by our staff and board’s commitment to ensuring the arts are accessible to everyone in our community.” The detailed plan was presented this week by Cario to community partners, city officials, board members and staff outlining the changes and reasons. Changes include:

• Shoring up or eliminating unsustainable cost centers – including sunsetting RACC’s workplace giving program
• Moving management of The Right Brain Initiative, an arts integration program, to RACC’s long-time partner Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington, a nonprofit organization
• Creating a dedicated development team at RACC with clear fundraising goals to help increase and diversify revenue
• Better leveraging public dollars to secure new national and local funding
• Reorganizing staff positions to align with organizational changes, simplifying work groups and reporting relationships.

RACC’s year-end report was released in December, highlighting accomplishments in 2019 and celebrating the artists, arts workers and arts educators who make our community stronger. RACC will present its next “State of the Arts” report to the Portland City Council on February 27 at 2:00 p.m.

For more information, contact Heather Nelson Kent at or by phone 503-823-5426 or mobile 503-860-6145.


The Regional Arts & Culture Council is a local arts agency serving 1.8 million residents in the Portland, Oregon metro region including Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. RACC provides grants and technical assistance for artists and nonprofit organizations, with more than 5,000 grants totaling $44 million in the past two decades. RACC also manages a widely-celebrated public art collection of more than 2,200 artworks for the City of Portland and Multnomah County; conducts employee giving campaigns that have raised more than $8.5 million for local arts organizations since 2007; organizes networking events, forums and workshops; and integrates the arts into the broader curriculum for K-8 students through The Right Brain Initiative, serving more than 27,000 students a year. Online at

MEDIA CONTACT: Heather Nelson Kent, Communications Manager,, 503.823.5426