Arts Education

A Portland elementary school student digs into their watercolor.


Arts education engagement at RACC began in 1995 with the creation of the Arts Education Program and the hiring of our first Program Manager. In 2008, we launched The Right Brain Initiative, almost ten years after RACC’s original program of Artists in Schools was sunset due to budget cuts and program reorganization. The Right Brain Initiative provided a robust arts integration program with partner organizations and schools throughout the Portland Metro area until January of 2020 when they merged with Young Audiences. Over the years RACC fostered relationships with educators and arts partners, including regional and national arts organizations. When the Arts Education & Access Fund was approved by Portland voters in 2012, it re-established arts education in K-5 schools in Portland’s six districts by providing dedicated funding for arts educators. The evolution of arts education at RACC continues as we work to connect, advocate, and ensure equity and access for all of the K-12 schools across the region and throughout the State of Oregon.

Our Vision Today

The Regional Arts & Culture Council works to achieve our vision by centering equity, access, and resources by championing arts education in our schools, promoting arts education in our community, and ensuring that all students receive a well-rounded education with the arts as a core curriculum from grades K through 12.

The Arts Education & Access Fund (AEAF)

RACC’s Arts Education Program coordinates services to school districts funded by the city of Portland’s Arts Education & Access Fund and supports a community vision for equitable education through the arts. This program plays a vital role in sharing the impact of arts education through the documentation of services and advocacy, and by supporting the collaboration of arts educators, curriculum specialists, and school superintendents.

The six districts served include Centennial, David Douglas, Parkrose, Portland Public, Reynolds, and Riverdale.

  • We support our arts educators, hired through the AEAF in arts education: music, visual arts, drama, and dance. We endorse and subscribe to the National Arts Education Standards and the State of Oregon arts education standards. We recognize
  • media arts as an arts education discipline. We convene quarterly meetings with our six district arts educator liaisons.
  • We support schools by connecting them to cultural resources in the Portland metro area. RACC advocates on behalf of school districts to help ensure equitable, sustained, well-rounded, and progressive arts education for students in elementary, middle, and high school. We convene quarterly meetings with our district curriculum leaders.
  • We offer professional development for our arts educators that connect them to valuable resources and tools to use in the classroom. We maintain a curated Arts Educators Resource list for our teachers, as well as a database of webinars, conferences, and events. We share with our arts educators through our six district Arts Liaisons and direct outreach to our arts educators in schools.
  • We advocate along with our arts partners across the region to bring opportunities into the classrooms of arts educators. We support grant-based programs that integrate the arts in core curriculum to help enrich and enhance a student’s art experience with a working artist. RACC also promotes Public Art in our schools by providing curated programs for arts educators to use in their classrooms. In 2021-22, we will initiate a tri-annual meeting of arts educators, arts partners, and others for a roundtable arts education collaborative discussion.
  • We collaborate with the Arts Education & Access Fund Citizen Oversight Committee to ensure compliance and measurable outcomes are met with regard to the AEAF charter with the city of Portland. We help facilitate and convene an annual meeting of arts education stakeholders from the six districts, the city of Portland, and other arts partners. In 2020-21, a joint project saw the launch of a student competition for a re-design of the AEAF Logo.

artlook® & The Kennedy Center 

Since 2010, RACC has had a unique partnership and relationship with the Kennedy Center, which brings several programs into the fold of Arts Education: Any Given Child and the Partnership for Education. Selected in 2018, RACC joined one of nine sites across the United States to participate in a 3-year pilot program to launch artlook®. Through this relationship with the Kennedy Center and Chicago-based developer, Ingenuity, artlook® creates an arts-based interactive mapping database platform. This allows school districts to understand the arts landscape in their communities. The intention is to create a more equitable and accessible arts education opportunity for all students. School districts, educators, families, and the community can navigate arts education opportunities in their region. RACC’s goal is to expand to other school districts and create arts partnerships in Oregon to provide the artlook® platform.

Download Information:
Introduction to artlook®
FAQ About Portland artlook®
Guide Use to a​rtlook® Data
Arts-SEL Theory of Action Report
Partners in Education Fast Fact Sheet

The Future of Arts Education at RACC

While we are currently responsible for six school districts in the Portland Metro area, we are always seeking ways to support our larger regional community. As we look to the future, we know that without a firm understanding of the importance and need of a well-rounded education in our schools, one that includes the arts, we are not providing an equitable and accessible education for all of our students. It is with this in mind that we work to make arts education a priority and mission of RACC.

  • RACC collaborates and participates in arts education forums, workgroups, and discussions around the state.
  • RACC promotes arts education in our community through public initiatives and joint projects. (Portland Parks and Recreation, Colleges/Universities)
  • Expand arts education access and resources throughout Oregon, not limited to the tri-county region, with a focus on equity and access through artlook®.
  • Advocate and promote legislative agendas that support and include the arts in STEM to create STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics).
  • Engage with national leaders to establish arts education as core curriculum and endorse collaborative learning as well as arts integration as a vital component of a well-rounded education in our K-12 schools.
  • Making Connections, Sharing Ideas, Asking Questions: RACC invites and encourages our arts educators to connect with other arts educators across districts and use RACC as a platform for engagement.
  • The Arts Education Committee at RACC works to further the arts education agenda and increase equity and access in our schools. We also partner with and promote our arts organizations in our community and region.

Arts Education Program PDF


Watch the video below.

Portland Arts Tax helps students get creative even in COVID times


Check out the map below to see which schools are currently being served by RACC Arts Education.

Map Icon Key

school building icon schools served by The Right Brain Initiative (Right Brain)
running students icon schools served by Arts Education & Access Fund (AEAF or Art Tax)
graduation cap icon schools served by both Right Brain and AEAF

Map Color Key

light blue Centennial School District
light purple Corbett School District
dark green David Douglas School District
orange Gresham-Barlow School District
teal Hillsboro School District
light green North Clackamas School District
yellow Oregon Department of Education sponsored
brown Oregon Trail School District
maroon Parkrose School District
salmon Portland Public Schools
dark blue Reynolds School District
dark purple Riverdale School District



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