Regional Arts & Culture Council Announces Leadership Transition

Heather Nelson Kent
Communications Manager, Regional Arts & Culture Council

Executive Director Madison Cario Departs for Bay Area Arts Enterprise

The Board of Directors of the Regional Arts & Culture Council announced today that Executive Director Madison Cario will depart on December 3rd to serve as CEO for both the Minnesota Street Project and the Minnesota Street Project Foundation in San Francisco. The Board and senior leadership are developing a transition plan to ensure smooth operations at RACC.

“The RACC Board is grateful for Madison’s leadership especially as we worked to meet the arts community’s needs during this devastating global pandemic,” said RACC Board Chair Nathan Rix. “Madison brought great vision and organizational capability to RACC, allowing us to be responsive, focus on equity, and strengthen our work with key stakeholders. The organization is well-positioned to lead and support Portland’s ever-evolving and growing arts community.”

Board Chair Rix outlined the transition plan in a meeting with RACC team members and board members on Wednesday. “We’re already mapping out our next steps for executive leadership and will be seeking community input and working with our stakeholders moving ahead,” he said.

The organization stands in a strong position having recently reorganized and realigned to better meet community needs, and secured funding and long-term partnerships, including a 3-year contract with the City of Portland, along with annual contracts with Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington counties and Metro. Under Cario’s leadership, the organization diversified its funding, securing grants from national, state, and local foundations, corporations, and private donors.

“My time in Portland has been meaningful and I am incredibly proud of how we rose to the challenges of this pandemic, responded to social justice issues and the needs of our community over the past three years,” said Cario. “RACC, and the communities we serve, will always have a vocal advocate and ally in me.”

The shutdowns and social distancing requirements caused by COVID-19 significantly impacted the arts community and artists across the region. The RACC leadership team, led by Cario, was instrumental in a statewide advocacy campaign that secured $50 million in federal CARES Act funding for arts organizations and venues across the state. Ultimately, RACC was tapped to administer millions in CARES funds to artists and art organizations. RACC distributed $13.2M through a new partnership with the Multnomah County Cultural Coalition; $2.5 M for local performing arts venues, and $190,000 in grants from the City of Portland’s CARES allocation designated for local Black, Indigenous, and artists of color.

“In my nine months as Arts and Culture Commissioner, I’ve enjoyed working with Madison tremendously,” said Commissioner Carmen Rubio, who serves as the city’s liaison to RACC. “They helped Portland’s arts and culture community through the challenges of COVID and being more inclusive of more artists in our community. Their time in Portland has left our city, and our city’s arts and culture community, better, and I wish them well in their next steps.”


An independent nonprofit 501(c)3 organization, we support greater Portland’s creative economy by providing equitable funding and services to artists and art organizations; managing and growing our diverse, nationally acclaimed public art program; and developing long-lasting public and private partnerships. For more information visit