National Endowment for the Arts awards grant to create East Portland Cultural Corridor

$75,000 NEA grant to connect people, culture, and transportation; strengthen the sense of community in East Portland

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), in partnership with TriMet, the Portland Bureau of Transportation (PBOT), APANO, Division Midway Alliance, and Slavic Community Center of NW, will receive a $75,000 Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Our Town is NEA’s creative placemaking grants program that supports the integration of arts, culture, and design to strengthen people’s connection within their community. The NEA grant funds will be matched locally by $50,000 from RACC (with funding from PBOT’s percent-for-art program) and $25,000 from TriMet.

“The Division Transit Project is not only about bringing better, faster, more reliable bus service to the neighborhoods along Division Street, it is also about community,” said TriMet interim General Manager Sam Desue, Jr. “We appreciate the National Endowment for the Arts recognizing the heart of Portland, a feeling that all belong and are welcome, whether on transit or elsewhere in our community.”

The NEA grant will launch the East Portland Cultural Corridor, a project aimed at generating a cohesive sense of place and cultural presence in East Portland along Southeast Division Street from SE 82nd Avenue to SE 175th Avenue. The project will leverage TriMet’s Division Transit Project, currently more than halfway through construction, as a geographic backbone and future travel option that will become a part of the daily life of many East Portland residents.

“It’s exciting to see a transit project that celebrates creativity and recognizes the role artists and the creative process can have in achieving a community vision,” said Kristin Calhoun, RACC’s Public Art Director. “Arts and cultural activities bring people together to strengthen connections to each other and the places we care about.”

Artists and community-based organizations will lead the following initiatives throughout the corridor:

  • An artist in residence to engage community members and project partners in creating a cohesive district identity.
  • APANO Art + Justice Lab Fellows Project will provide fellowship pairings of one established and one emerging artist that will design a public project or performance.
  • Division-Midway Alliance will initiate cultural district planning for a cultural center.
  • Slavic Community Center of NW will produce an International Children’s Festival and participate in cultural district planning.

TriMet initiated the grant application as a means to address current federal transit funding restrictions on public art on the Division Transit Project. As the grant recipient, RACC will oversee and administer the funding to the community-based organizations and artists, with project management by TriMet. This is a first of its kind collaboration between the City of Portland, PBOT, RACC, and TriMet to provide direct support to non-profit organizations to support some of the cultural needs identified by the community.