For RACC – Community Matters

By Carol Tatch, Executive Director

Many of you have heard: Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan announced he has created a separate office of arts and culture inside Portland city government. He is also planning to not renew RACC’s contract when it expires on June 30, 2024. This will seriously impact RACC’s ability to serve you.  

Here’s why this matters  — and why we believe Commissioner Dan Ryan is making a grave mistake.  

Everything RACC does  — through our grantmaking, support to artists and arts organizations, and public art programs — is focused on the health and well-being of arts and culture in the Portland Metro region. Our work benefits city residents as well as everyone in the larger metro area. A thriving arts and culture community is what our area is known for across the nation, and RACC plays an essential role in this.  

Perhaps the most critical idea for people to understand is that a decentralized approach to distributing public support for arts and culture will lead to significant gaps in service and support. The potential for lasting damage to a fragile eco-system that has experienced tremendous challenges in the last three years is real and considerable. There is an important distinction between what is, and what could be if city commissioners vote to defund RACC. We consistently put the region’s artists and creatives, and our communities, first, and have a documented tenure of distributing our partners’ funds with integrity. We listen to the individual voices within our communities, and believe that you should be part of artistic decisions in your community. There is currently a Cultural Planning process underway that is not upheld by this decision. If there are changes to be made to how RACC and the City operate together, it should be done following the analysis of community input. 

We have been hearing from many community members that you support the continuation of RACC as the primary steward of public funding for arts and culture. If you want to learn more about why it is vital to maintain RACC and protect our communities’ artists and creatives, ensuring everyone’s access to art, here’s what you can do: 

  • Share your perspective: Reach out to your local officials to voice concern for Commissioner Ryan’s plan to end RACC’s contract and create a government-run office of arts and culture. We’ve prepared some letter templates that you can adapt to your point of view; please click here for information and downloads to get you started. 
  • Speak your mind: Sign up to testify at a City Council meeting. This is your time as a member of the public. Let City Commissioners know you’re not happy they’re leaving you out of future arts funding decisions. 
  • Join us: In a few weeks we will host a series of community conversations to listen to your concerns and suggestions. We’ll also share highlights of what we’ve achieved in the last 28 years — and what you could lose if the city follows through on its plan to take arts funding from the Regional Arts & Culture Council. 
  • Sign up: If you haven’t already, please sign up for our newsletter and share with friends and family who may be interested in supporting our collective mission! 

For almost three decades, RACC has walked the talk of our mission and values: To enrich our communities through arts and culture and create a thriving region, powered by creativity, bringing arts and culture to every neighborhood. This mission was thoughtfully designed in collaboration with our public funding partners.  

Please let us know if you have any ideas or questions and stay tuned. Thank you so much for your ongoing support – it means the world to us.  

— Carol