The Regional Arts & Culture Council to Participate in National ‘Arts & Economic Prosperity 6’ Study


Data Collection for Most Comprehensive Study of Economic Impact of Nonprofit Arts and Culture Industry has begun in May

Portland, Oregon — The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) is pleased to announce its participation in Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6), the most comprehensive economic impact study of the nonprofit arts and culture industry ever conducted in the United States. Administered by Americans for the Arts, AEP6 will examine the economic impact of the arts and culture in Multnomah County and 386 additional communities representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity® series is conducted approximately every five years to gauge the economic impact of spending by nonprofit arts and culture organizations and the event-related spending by their audiences. In 2017, AEP5 documented that the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $166.3 billion in economic activity (spending by organizations plus the event-related spending by their audiences) which supported 4.6 million jobs and generated $27.5 billion in government revenue. The AEP series demonstrates that an investment in the arts provides both cultural and economic benefits. In Oregon, our arts industry generated $687 million of economic activity—$364 million in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $323 million in event-related expenditures by their audiences. This activity supported 22,299 full time equivalent jobs and generated $53 million in revenue to local and state governments.

Audience-intercept surveys will be collected from attendees to arts events in Multnomah County from May 2022 through April 2023—in total, the national sample is anticipated to surpass 250,000 surveys. A survey of nonprofit arts and culture organizations will occur from January through April 2023. The national and local findings will be made public in September 2023. At that time, the Regional Arts & Culture Council will receive a customized report on the unique economic impact results for Multnomah County including the number of jobs that are supported and the amount of government revenue that is generated by our community’s nonprofit arts industry.

Americans for the Arts is committed to addressing equity and inclusion as a critical component of the methodology, organizational participation, and collection of data for AEP6 by centering and representing BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and ALAANA (African, Latinx, Asian, Arab, Native American) identifying communities—a segment of the nonprofit arts and culture sector that has been historically underrepresented in past studies. 

For the first time, AEP6 will require that the local and state research partners collect a portion of audience surveys from attendees at events hosted by arts and culture organizations that primarily serve communities of color. The AEP6 study will establish a benchmark of arts and culture organizations that primarily serve communities of color, and the audiences that attend their events. It will also identify organizations that have a chief executive who identifies as BIPOC/ALAANA. Researchers will use this data to calculate and report on the economic impact of the BIPOC/ALAANA arts sector in each of the participating communities.

Carol Tatch, Co-Executive Director Chief of External Operations of RACC reflected, “Our local nonprofit arts and culture organizations continue to be critical to our economic recovery and it’s important to keep up with legislation that supports such recovery  like the Creative Economy Revitalization Act (aka CERA, H.R. 5019). The arts have the potential to impact many aspects of our community, the truth is they also have a power all on their own. The arts are an open invitation to engage in our history, our heritage, our politics, the way we learn—in short, the arts are part of our daily lives and play a key role in all aspects of the human experience.”

Nolen V. Bivens, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, commented, “The arts are economic catalysts—strengthening the economy by creating jobs, generating government revenue, and driving tourism. Community is where the arts make a difference, and while the national impact data are impressive, at its core, AEP6 is a local story. I look forward to seeing its results, which will be key in persuading decision-makers that the arts benefit all people in all communities.”  

For more information and a full list of the communities participating in the AEP6 study, visit www.americansforthearts.org/AEP6


Interested in getting involved in Multnomah County and the Portland City area, please contact Mario Mesquita, Manager of Advocacy and Engagement at RACC, AEP6@racc.org.

More local information about AEP6 can also be found and will be continually updated on our website www.racc.org/aep6.



About the Regional Arts & Culture Council

An independent nonprofit 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 racc.org.

Make|Learn|Build Grant Program Overview

The Regional Arts & Culture Council launched the Make|Learn|Build grant opportunity for artists, arts organizations, and arts businesses in Winter 2021, seeking to support the local arts community while we remained in the pandemic lockdown. Throughout the last 16 months of shifting public health guidelines, new variants, social unrest, and climate events, RACC was able to offer two rounds of the grants each fiscal year, totaling four grant cycles open to the community, with Round 4 grant awards most recently announced at the end of March 2022.

The Make|Learn|Build grant was set up to prioritize breadth, reach and access. We worked to expand our technical support with Instagram live events and recorded Info Sessions with ASL interpretation, along with team member grant writing guidance through panel feedback and draft reviews.  It touched a lot of people and achieved significant impact during an uncertain time.

It allowed RACC to move away from past grantmaking standards (i.e. matching dollars, in-kind support, limits on eligible expenses, required in-person events) and put the emphasis on supporting community values and voices.

In total since January 2021, we experienced the following:

  • 1,661 applications
  • 1,364 unique applicants
  • 30 Community Reviewers
  • 85% BIPOC* representation in Community Review Panels
  • 48 Zoom panels
  • 806 grant awards
  • $2,310,500 awarded to artists, arts organizations, and arts businesses
  • 755 unique grantees
  • Average 52% BIPOC* artist support across 4 rounds
  • Over 457 technical assistance sessions for draft reviews and panel process feedback

*not including responses in “I describe my ethnicity/race as”

RACC launched the Make|Learn|Build grant program with the goal of supporting 50% of the applicants, which was a higher percentage than past funding rates (typically between 30% to 43%). This funding rate was possible with the smaller award amounts (average of $3,000 grant, rather than an average award of $5,000 in Project Grants.) This goal became harder as the number of applications began to skyrocket, but through the four rounds of the program, RACC was able to support the entire process at 48.4%.

Some other highlights of this program have been the following:

  • The pandemic hasn’t slowed creative folks down. People are making art!
  • A simple, accessible application welcomed in new and first-time applicants. This has allowed for more risk-taking. It also resulted in explosive growth in the applicant pool.
  • The need in the artist and creative community is huge. By making smaller awards to a wider number of grantees, the support was able to reach more people. However, great ideas and projects were still left on the table, as always.
  • Paying artists for their professional role as Community Reviewers is important. Reviewing applications and making decisions is WORK. By paying artists for their time to evaluate, they could step away from being applicants and their own artmaking and have comparable compensation.
  •  Reviewers are responding to what they want to see in their community – clear impact on community and value-based investment.
  • Making the full grant award up front puts trust in the work of the artist or organization.

As we move forward into the next vision of RACC grant programs, we know that we will be opening back up to arts projects proposed by all types of entities, including other nonprofits, businesses, institutions, schools, and community groups beyond those rooted in the arts. We will also be working to support individual artists in the many ways that they are creating and sharing art and culture. However, public presentations and a plan to share work with an audience will be important as a way to show community impact. One benefit of the new normal is acknowledging that virtual presentations and digital distribution are an accessible way to share your work.

Based on the recent RACC Planning Survey from Winter 2022, we know that Grants are the number one way that the community engages with our organization (79% of respondents). The majority of the survey respondents find RACC services and programs to be moderately or very accessible (78.4%) but feedback also shows there is ongoing work to do. Grants Team members are working to incorporate all our most recent lessons learned into the next phase of RACC grant support. Stay tuned!


FY2022 Make|Learn|Build Community Reviewers

Sarah Brahim

RaShaunda Brooks

May Maylisa Cat

Melina Coumas

Kapu Dancel

Jay Flewelling

Celina Flores

Elizabeth Higgins

Shobha Jetmalani

Laura Martinez

Megan McGeorge

Christine Miller

Sushmita Poddar

Logan Ridenour-Starnes

Paul Susi

garima thakur

Jennifer Viviano


Sample Quotes from grantees:

“This grant process is streamlined and made easy for artists who are not part of a non-profit, and don’t have a lot of experience with grant writing and reporting requirements often associated with those types of grants. This is frequently the only source of funding for many marginalized community members. We are grateful for these opportunities.”

 “I appreciate that during this very challenging year, RACC was flexible and allowed me to modify my project, and offered their help and support every step of the way.”

“I appreciated that this grant payout was not broken up into two payments like my last RACC grant. It was such a breath of fresh air not to have to hold off on paying hard-working contractors promptly instead of holding their payments until the project was completed. Thank you for trusting me and believing in me once again to make my art and hire indie filmmakers in Portland.”

“Thank you for providing opportunity and flexibility in a time that severely lacks these things.”

“One standout feature of this grant is that the total amount of the award was disbursed at the beginning of the project. Without this model I would not have had the necessary funds to cover expenses because of the challenges faced with work during the pandemic. This model of financial support made a big difference in helping this project happen.”

“I really appreciated the support in getting my declined first-round application reviewed and revised for submission the second time around. It was great getting specific feedback, and of course, having that result in a successful application the second time around.”

 “The Make|Learn|Build Grant has my greatest appreciation and gratitude. This grant really hit the mark in making things possible during 2021!”

“I think it’s been one of the more welcoming grants I’ve applied for. The application wasn’t overwhelming or complex. I think the simplicity of requirements make it more inclusive to underrepresented groups.”


Fresh Paint Artist Zeinab Saab Reflects On Creating Mural, Benni wa Bennek

Zeinab Saab working on the mural, Benni wa Bennek. Photo by Sarah Farahat.

First, I would like to thank the members of the Regional Arts and Culture Council and Open Signal projects for this incredible opportunity. I am honored to have been a recipient of this grant, and creating a mural for the first time has been a dream come true.

Second, I have to thank my mentor, Sarah Farahat, for her patience, guidance, and overall support. As soon as the open call for the Fresh Paint project was released, Sarah was quick to send the opportunity to me and pushed me into applying for it. To tell you that I was nervous about applying would be an understatement. I have no background in this medium, but with Sarah’s 20 years of experience in creating and assisting in murals, I began to feel a sense of comfort in the unknown. When I began, it felt rather intimidating, but Sarah made it feel like a breeze. I am beyond grateful for all the knowledge and feedback she offered within the duration of this project.

The completed mural on Open Signal’s building at NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. Photo by Sarah Farahat.

Benni wa Bennek is a love letter to the Arab women I grew up watching on their porches when I was a child playing throughout the neighborhood in Dearborn, Michigan. This was the space to speak of the gossip circling around the block, to share the joy and difficulty of motherhood and womanhood, and to share the intimacy between women using the veranda as either their daily or weekly therapy sessions over a cup of Turkish coffee. The design of the cup in the mural was taken directly from the set my mother had used for occasions such as these, two or more women after a long day of work, who can unwind in each other’s presence on the veranda.

I would also like to dedicate this piece to the Arab and SWANA (Southwest Asia and North Africa) women; and to the femmes, gender-non-conforming, and queer people I have had the privilege of meeting in my life. How we too have been able to build a portal of our own, even in a time when we thought our mirror would not exist at all. Our search for our reflection led us here, being able to spill some tea and gossip, and also getting to trust each other enough to build our own emotional intimacy over a cup of qahwah. We too are now able to sip away our struggles and joy on the proverbial veranda, wherever that may be. And finally, I want to especially extend this dedication to the SWANA community I have met in Portland; a place like this can oftentimes make me feel like a foreigner, but this group of people allows me to find solace and comfort in them.

It is an honor to have been a part of this experience, and to have done this in NE Portland on one of the busiest streets in the city for people to witness. Thank you to the community of NE Portland for this invitation. Again, I am both humbled and honored. Thank you.

See more from the artist at zeinabsaab.com.

Call for Artists at Lincoln High School | Site-Specific Mural

Interpretation services available, email info@racc.org

Servicio de interpretación disponible   |  Предоставляются услуги переводчика   |   Có dịch vụ thông dịch   |   通訳サービスあり

On behalf of Portland Public Schools (PPS), the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) invites artists/artist teams who are either based in Oregon & Southwest Washington or attended Lincoln High School to submit their qualifications to be considered for a site-specific mural at the newly rebuilt Lincoln High School (Lincoln) in Portland, Oregon. One artist/artist team will be selected to create a mural design to be painted on the exterior west-facing wall. The budget to create a mural design is $25,000. 

Located in the Goose Hollow neighborhood, Lincoln is Oregon’s first and oldest high school. The Lincoln campus is on an 11 acre super block and will consist of a 6-story classroom tower and theatre and athletic facilities. Lincoln is scheduled to open for classes in Fall 2022 and the entire project is slated for completion in 2023. The selected artist/artist team will create a mural design that will be painted on the school’s west wall, facing SW Main St and SW 18th Ave. Additionally, community engagement will be a central component of the design process. 

Read the full details about this call and the school’s rebuild, artist eligibility, and application materials.

Submissions Due: 5 p.m., Wednesday, May 25, 2022.

Rendering of the mural site on the west-facing wall of the newly rebuilt school

Who can apply?

This opportunity is open to artist/artist teams either based in Oregon/Southwest Washington or who have attended Lincoln High School. Applicants who have an interest and/or experience in community engagement processes that informs their art practice are strongly encouraged to apply.

PPS and RACC are committed to reflecting the cultural richness of our city by promoting opportunities for emerging and historically underrepresented artists. Artists/teams representing communities of color are encouraged to apply. Strong consideration will be given to artists who have experience working with youth and residents from historically underrepresented communities including communities of color, immigrant, and refugee communities to develop their artwork, including working in a historical context.

Apply online in the RACC Opportunity Portal. (For first-time users of the portal, view a brief video learning how to register here.)

Learn more by watching the previously recorded info sessions:

Follow Regional Arts & Culture Council on Facebook or @regionalarts on Instagram to stay informed of this and other upcoming opportunities.

We’re Here to Help!


Contact project manager Salvador Mayoral IV with questions or to set up a time for a phone call: smayoral@racc.org

April – June Edition Newsletter 2022

Where education, creativity and joy collide!

The world has changed since I wrote my last introduction to #newsforyourheART. What continues is our mission to include, advocate, support and share arts and culture in our community. We have the opportunity to uplift one another through our voice, our vision, our instrument, and our craft to build bridges, connect, and establish ties that bind. As we enter a new season, we know that we can find joy in the sun, a loving nudge from a dog on a walk, a hug from a friend, an invitation to grab some coffee, and exploring our community, taking in the things we have missed. I invite you to share this newsletter. Share some joy.


Chanda Evans (she/her), Arts Education Program Manager

Features & Highlights

New AEAF logo design by Vincente, a 3rd grade PPS student.

A Reminder that Tax Day is April 18, 2022

Do not forget to remind your neighbors, friends, and family to pay their yearly Arts Education and Access Income Tax Fund (AEAF) Click here to make your $35 payment. To read the recent OP-ED piece in the Portland Tribune by the Chairwoman of the AEAF Oversight Committee, Laura Streib, click here.

Your yearly $35 helps to support arts education in our six school districts- Centennial, David Douglas, Parkrose, Portland Public, Reynolds, and Riverdale. In 2012, residents of Portland passed this measure to provide one arts educator for every 500 students. The fund also supports our community arts nonprofits through grants administered by the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC). For more information on the AEAF click here.  The AEAF Oversight Committee is the body charged with ensuring compliance of the 2012 measure. Their meetings are open to the public. For more information click here. To pay your $35 online click here. Look on social to repost, tag, and retweet our social media campaign.

#PDXaeaf #CreativeEconomy # WhereArtThouPDX #ArtsEducationForAll #RACCgrants #ArtCreatesHope


Legislative Update: Arts Education for All Act & More

Learn more about Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici’s Arts Education for All Act click here. To advocate for H.R.5581 and to endorse it, click here.

On December 9, 2021 the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Commission on the Arts stated their case in a Congressional Briefing to two architects of the Arts Education for All Act (H.R.5581), Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR1) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME1). Please watch the video below. If you have not read the Commission’s report Art for Life’s Sake, click here.

Oregon Legislative Session: While H.B.4040 failed to go forward in committee in the 2022 short legislative session, we are hopeful that the importance of arts & culture in our state is not lost on our lawmakers. Please be an ally and support arts & culture and a sustained and fully funded STEAM education in our districts. Contact your state legislators.


Meet Mario Mesquita (he/him/el), RACC’s Advocacy and Engagement Manager


Sitting in a local venue of limited yet purposefully crafted libations, in our corner of de-masked friends exchanging briefings of our day, we found refuge in our huddled convening, and I asked: Why is art important to us in this moment? Coming from across the globe, professional backgrounds, career choices, and a myriad of life experiences: heartaches, professional successes, lovers, chosen/family, motherhood, im/migration–what makes art so important that we should not forget?

Art is expression. It is a way that we are able to pass knowledge, tradition, culture, views, and identity to our future selves and next generations. It is a way that we can instill moments in history, learn from the past, and process our current events. Healing.

Art is a way of connecting with family (for better or worse), with our roots, and, for those of us who maintain semblances of connection to our unique heritages, with our nation/s of origin (both pre- and postmodern codified borders drawn out arbitrarily on a map–a design). Art is a way to understand our individual and collective paths. Whether it be through making, experiencing, or observing, through art we get a chance to explore ourselves, to better understand and relate to ourselves as children to adults; to connect with those around us; and to understand the impacts and influences in our lives. Like the corner in the local libation venue, art opens up conversation: how better to hold public space?  Art creates space, opens conversation, and can be the place where solutions arise.

“Art” is such a broad term–it encompasses creation from “hand-to-paper,” photography, painting, sculpture, performance, installation, digital recordings, to the literary “arts” (writing, language, and memory)–it seems to be humans’ ability to dream. We can make dreams into reality: capture moments in time, create worlds, envision solutions, magnify and highlight connections, and produce the simplest to the most elaborate designs.

We are solution makers.

It is in this capacity that artists–creative, sensate people–can dream big, think outside the box, and always take a seat at the solution-making table. Not just for cultural planning or skill sharing, but also on decision-making panels–county commission boards, foundations, PTA’s, and city, state, and federal governments. It is important to support and advocate for local and national initiatives that support the arts. We can’t divorce the reaches of art from our current context of an elusive “post-COVID” world, war, the environmental impacts of climate change, political upheaval–the arts offer back to us a space to dream, moments of respite, healing spaces. It is not a wonder that art is recognized for its benefits to mental health.

We need to continue to lobby, support, and advocate ensuring the arts are prioritized in government budget processes and that there continues to be legislation to serve and protect art workers, creatives, and creative economies. Nationally, the Creative Economy Revitalization Act (CERA) is still pending. CERA would get creative workers back into jobs by creating a workforce grants program within the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act. The Department of Labor, in cooperation with the National Endowment for the Arts, would administer the grants to government, non-profit, and for-profit organizations. Priority would go to creative workers who became unemployed over the pandemic. Similar to the WPA Federal Project (the Works Progress Administration of 1935), the Creative Economy Revitalization Act would fund creatives to create art that is accessible to the entire community. This can include concert series, large-scale murals, photography exhibits, published stories, and dance performances.

In Oregon, the recent House Bill 4040 would have allocated $50 million to arts and culture entities negatively affected by the pandemic through a grant program administered by Business Oregon. In addition to the funding allocation, the bill would have also provided more specific programmatic guidance for arts agencies while developing the Live Venues and Live Venue Support Businesses program; unfortunately, this bill did not make it through our short legislative session. However, it is important to be aware that parts of the House Bill will be included in upcoming economic recovery initiatives. The bill is still a nod to the importance of the healing capacity of the arts, both for mental health and for economic recovery.

In the city of Portland, the Arts Education and Access Income Tax Fund (AEAF–commonly known by the misnomer “Arts Tax”) was passed by voters in 2012 to support arts education in our schools and arts organizations in our community. The measure funds one arts educator for every 500 students in six school districts in the City of Portland. They include Centennial, David Douglas, Parkrose, Portland Public, Reynolds, and Riverdale school districts. RACC administers grants back out to the community to fund local arts organizations and artists. You can learn more about how the AEAF benefits youth and our future by reading this recently published Op-Ed by Laura Streib, the AEAF Oversight Committee Chairwoman. As my friend said that night in our corner, art allows us “space for questions and possibilities. Art is the public’s record of who we are, can be, and will be.” Advocate, support, show up, and dream. Be a part of the change.  For questions about advocacy & engagement with/for/by RACC, please contact Mario Mesquita.


Arts Education Resources 

A comprehensive curated resource list from RACC’s Arts Education Program is available for download. Click here.


Waterfall at Portland Japanese Garden. Photo by C. Evans.


Professional Development: Trauma Informed Care Workshop Series Continues

The Regional Arts & Culture Council, in partnership with Trauma Informed Oregon presents a series of workshops for arts educators. Please join us for our upcoming fourth workshop. This free event will be held in May/June remotely, as we continue to center health and safety for all. Look for our Eventbrite invitation in your inbox if you are a K-12 arts educator.

The Beat: Interviews from the Field


Meet Kellie McCarty, Theatre Arts Educator from Centennial High School

What inspires you as a high school theatre arts educator?  What makes high school a unique space in the realm of arts education?  I am inspired daily by my students and by my fellow arts teachers.  What we have all just experienced in the past 2 years has been more challenging than anything else in my 26 years of teaching.  I am in awe of the creativity and light that was still produced during such a dark time.  I saw students take risks every day, and I saw theatre teachers learn new skills to make theatre accessible to their students and their community.  It was a true test of the human spirit, and that continues to inspire me every day.   High school theatre is unique in that we are working with the artists of the near future.  They are going through so much self-discovery as to who they are themselves, and it is amazing to watch them blossom through the journey of creating other characters and sometimes living their shared experiences.  Their energy is infectious, and it either keeps me young or ages me very quickly.

What have you learned from your students? What do you want them to take away from your classes when they graduate?  I learn something new from my students every day!  I think the biggest thing I have learned from my students, though, is their ability to accept each other where they are.  I think in education we spend a lot of time focusing on where they are going, such that we sometimes forget to meet them where they are and love them in that moment.  My students remind me of that daily.  I tell my students on their first day in my class that I am not there to make them the “world’s best actor or technician.”  If that happens, great!  However, my job is to make sure they are more confident in who they are, and more empathetic to the world and those around them, by the time they leave my class at the end of the year.  If that happens, then I consider that a successful year.

What brings you joy when you teach?  Some of my most joyful moments as a teacher have been the little things.  Like when a student who has struggled with memorization finally gets through their whole performance without pausing.  On the other hand, a student who has worked hard on their performance is recognized at Regionals or State.  I am also always joyful when the curtain opens on opening night and I get to watch those kids shine in front of their family and friends.  I have been very fortunate in my career to have so many joyful moments to remember.

What brings YOU joy?

A street mural with whimsical robotic characters in front of a bike rack.

Questions for Humans, Gary Hirsch, mural.

Please share with us by emailing cevans@racc.org.

Please email the Arts Education Program about any summer programming opportunities so we may include them in our short summer one-pager of #newsforyourheART.

If you would like to highlight student work or a recent performance, please share with us! Thank you.

Be sure to check out artlook®oregon to find arts education programing for the summer. Over 250 arts organizations in the tri-county area are listed!

More Interviews from the Field

Featured Arts Organization:

Northwest Children’s Theatre and School, An interview with

 Leigh Mallonee, Education Director

Mission Statement: The mission of Northwest Children’s Theater and School is to educate, entertain and enrich the lives of young audiences.

What are three things you have learned through the years as you worked with youth in theater? They will take you on a more creative and grand adventure than you could ever pre-plan. We refer to our Explore Camps as a week of LARP-ing (live action role-playing). The teachers provide some kindling but the campers light the spark and fan the flames. The characters they

create for themselves, their explanations of “random” events, or their solutions to defeating the villain will always be more creative than anything the adults could think of.

The performance will work out. You may be convinced, based on the 7 weeks of dismal rehearsals that the performance will be a disaster, but when the lights come on and the music starts, they will transform from toads on a log to Michigan J. Frogs singing “Hello My Baby.”

Classroom Management (with a capital C and capital M) does not exist. Theater classrooms are organized chaos. You cannot just announce your four Class Rules and expect students to follow them. The best teachers craft a lesson plan (often on the fly) in which games and activities do the work for them, creating an ebb and flow following or modifying students’ energy levels, and creating moments for all kinds of learners and participants.

Is there a particular performance that resonated with you growing up? Did that experience inspire you to go into the arts? Growing up, my mother and I had a tradition to attend Balanchine’s The Nutcracker every Christmas season. No matter where we were living, we would find a production. I have seen elaborate performances at the Academy of Music in Philadelphia, touring productions in Tacoma, and simple community performances in Nyssa. It was a touchstone in my life; something that I knew would always be there. While it did not inspire me to become a ballerina, it did instill a love of performing arts.

What got me into the theater was my high school drama club. We had recently moved to a small town in Pennsylvania where I did not know anyone. I came home from school every day, crying, convinced that I would never make friends. My parents gave me the ultimatum that I had to join an activity. It did not matter what it was but if I did not pick one they would pick one for me. That day, I came home from school and announced that I had joined the Drama Club. They were shocked. I was shy; I had never set foot on a stage before; I had no obvious musical ability. They were convinced that I had joined Drama Club just to spite them; to fail on purpose and continue to be miserably alone. When they attended opening night of Charlotte’s Web, and the curtain went up and I came on stage, they practically hunched in their seats and covered their eyes. When they heard me deliver my first line as Narrator #1, their jaws dropped. “She’s good!” my step-dad said, but more than that, they were amazed at the transformation – from shy, socially awkward 9th grader to confident and LOUD actor. It was finding a group of silly, passionate, supportive, and equally weird peers, and a drama coach that focused our chaotic energy, that finally made me feel at home in the new school.

How does theatre affect/influence/inspire kids who might not go into the arts or become a theater performer/actor? Not every child who participates in theater will go on to star on Broadway or even be involved in the arts professionally. That is okay! I want classes at Northwest Children’s Theater to be a place for children to experiment, imagine, and explore who they are and what they like. Sometimes what they like will be what they are good at and they will pursue being a theater performer. Just doing something you enjoy, something that gets your creative juices flowing can have immediate and lasting effects. Theater is an art of imagination. It challenges you to think and problem-solve creatively. Unlike the realism of TV or movies, theater requires a different kind of resourcefulness and flexibility. It really taps into your creativity center. Creative dramatics teach children how to collaborate with others, forming a whole out of separate pieces. Musical theater teaches body and spatial awareness. The open-ended and uncertain nature of improv can increase tolerance of ambiguity or making new choices when faced with an obstacle. All of these skills are important whatever a child decides to pursue later on in life.


Public Art & Arts Education: A Dive into the RACC’s Public Art Search, Public Canvas Northwest

By Danielle Davis, Public Art Collections Registrar

As we head into spring in the COVID-era, it can sometimes be challenging to find things to do to get out of doors and enjoy the sun. Fortunately, the public art collection located in our public spaces across the metro area can provide an opportunity for fun and educational experiences. Owned by the City of Portland and Multnomah County, the public art collection is made up of a wealth of diverse artwork that ranges from prints and drawings, to murals, to large scale outdoor sculptures. One such example is Space Plants by Tyler FuQua Creations, located near the playground in Verdell Burdine Rutherford Park. The artist describes the sculptures as “a family of intergalactic plant-like creatures” that have come to visit Earth. These whimsical and joyful touches to our landscape can provide the perfect destination for a sunny afternoon.

Space Plants, Tyler FuQua Creations. Photo by Jeremy Running Photography.

In my role as Public Art Collections Registrar, one of my biggest tasks is to maintain the data for the collection. From the minute an artwork comes into the collection I do what might be considered a mundane process of cataloging the piece—taking correct measurements (to the closest 1/8th of an inch), making sure the media is recorded with the appropriate data standards, noting any condition problems, and on and on and on. While the word ”data” might make some run for the hills, one significant advantage is being able to provide tools that can help the public go out and see the art. One such tool is a free iPhone app called Public Art PDX. In 2011, developer Matt Blair offered to create an app that maps murals and permanent artwork in the public art collection using data that was made publicly available by the City. Both locals and visitors can use the app to discover art they never knew existed, or perhaps plot a walking tour in any part of town for that fun excursion in the sun.

Con Ganas!, Heysus and Carlos Chavez, mural. Located at 8638 N. Crawford St. in Portland.

RACC has also launched an online search tool that displays all the artwork in the collection. Called Public Canvas Northwest, this online tool provides information on the entire collection, featuring new additions as well as background on significant construction projects such as the Portland Building Renovation. This renovation allowed for the purchase of a group of 2D artworks located on the second floor, as well as the commission of several large-scale pieces. One prime example is We’ve Been Here by Kayin Talton Davis. This mural, located in the Lizzie Koontz Weeks Room, features portraits of black women who have made significant

contributions to the Northwest region yet whose stories have been largely forgotten. More information can be found here.  Keep an eye out for new work that will be coming to the building soon.

The Public Art Team at RACC works hard every day to commission, purchase, and maintain this collection to be able to share it with you in new and exciting ways. Take the time to peruse these virtual tools and get out there to explore!

For questions about the collection, contact Danielle Davis.

Workshops • Events • Lectures  


Over the River, Renee Zangara, painting.

Here is a curated list of lectures, workshops, events, and conferences from local colleges and universities. If you know of an event, workshop, performance, lecture, or art exhibition that is coming up please go here to submit an opportunity.


Mt Hood Jazz Festival, Mt Hood Community College- May 6-8th 2022

April is Poetry Month! Check out these events

Literary Arts – Verslandia! Youth Poetry Slam Championship, Arlene Schnitzer Concert Hall- April 28 from 7-9pm

All Classical Portland

Annie Blooms

Powell’s Bookstore

May is Asian Pacific American Heritage and Jewish Heritage Month – check out local events/resources

June is Pride Month: Portland Pride Waterfront Festival and Parade- June 18-19, at Tom McCall Waterfront Park. Click here for a list of local events

42nd Annual Cathedral Park Jazz Festival Check here for dates in July 2022

Original Practice Shakespeare Festival check out their 2022 schedule for their free performances in local parks

Piano. Push. Play – Click to find the locations of pianos in our community for 2022 

The Scoop – Grow your Brain    

Click here for more info.


Click here for more info on Juneteenth.

Click here for local resources.

Click here for more info on Asian Pacific American Heritage Month.
Click here for more info. For local resources click here.
Click here for local LGBTQI resources.

Click here for local youth specific resources.

Click here for national resources.

Regional Arts & Culture Council – Arts Education Program

We welcome feedback and suggestions. Please reach out to Chanda Evans (she/her) at cevans@racc.org

Designed by Andrea Blanco, RACC Communications and Advocacy Design Specialist.


**Featured artwork from RACC’s public art database Canvas NW.

**Some workshops/events/lectures might have changed due to COVID-19. Please check before you make plans.

Disclaimer: The Regional Arts & Culture Council is not held liable for the materials or images in this newsletter.

Artist Zeinab Saab, Pays Homage to Childhood Memories in Fresh Paint Mural


Catch the artist at work at Open Signal’s building on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.

Artist Zeinab Saab pays homage to the intimacy of porch conversations with their mural Benni wa bennek, now in progress at Open Signal’s building on NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd at Graham Street. With vibrant neon colors and repeating tea cup graphics, the mural carries the spirit of aunties sharing conversation over Turkish coffee. Saab is currently at work on the mural with support from mentor Sarah Farahat. Benni wa bennek will be on view from April to September, part of the temporary mural program Fresh Paint.

Artist Zeinab Saab at work on their mural Benni wa bennek, in progress on the wall at Open Signal offices on MLK Blvd. Photo by: Sarah Farahat

Saab’s work focuses on exploration of the self through color theory and the grid. After receiving their BFA in printmaking from Bowling Green State University in 2015, they completed their MFA in Printmaking at Northern Illinois University in 2019. Their work has been exhibited in San Francisco, St. Louis, Detroit, New York, California, Dubai, New Mexico, and Hawaii among other places. Their work is also held in several permanent collections, including Emory University; The Bainbridge Museum of Art; Zayed University in Dubai, UAE; the Arab American National Museum; and the University of Iowa’s Special Collections Library.

Fresh Paint is a partnership between the Regional Arts & Culture Council and Open Signal that began in 2017. The program supports emerging artists of color with their first publicly funded mural commission while giving the artists the opportunity to expand their creative skill sets and build paths to other public commissions. Saab is the twelfth muralist to take part in this program; previous muralists have included Alex Chiu, Munta Mpwo, Limei Lai and Jose Valentine.

“This program is a great opportunity not only for artists to build their professional portfolio and get exciting new skills, but for our organizations to support important visual storytelling,” explains Daniela Serna, Open Signal’s Fresh Paint facilitator. “With every mural, we’re able to showcase an artist’s story, sharing bits of their communities and histories on a busy throughway — an act of placemaking that brings our wall to life.”

Artist statement for Benni wa bennek:

“The theme of this mural is an homage to my childhood heroes: the aunties on the porch drinking Turkish coffee, eating sunflower seeds, and talking shit/spilling tea about folks in the neighborhood. “Benni wa bennek” simply translates to “between me and you”. I wanted this piece to translate the idea of community and closeness and how quickly that connection is made over a cup of Turkish coffee or tea on your neighbor’s baranda, or porch. Not only does it describe the intimate connection between two people, but it also speaks to an even closer physical space between you and your peer (credit Dana Ghazi on that last statement). For me, Benni wa bennek is a reinforcement of love, trust, and community bonds that no one can break.”

See more from the artist at zeinabsaab.com.


Daniela Karina Serna, Communications Manager
Open Signal
daniela [at] opensignalpdx.org
(503) 288 – 1515 x931

Andrea Blanco, Communications and Advocacy Design Specialist
Regional Arts & Culture Council
ablanco [at] racc.org
(503) 823 – 5100


About Open Signal

Open Signal is an equity-driven media arts center located in Northeast Portland, Oregon. The largest community media space in the Pacific Northwest, we offer production studios and equipment, workshops, artist fellowships, a cable and online broadcast platform, and a professional media production team. We focus on telling stories underrepresented in the mainstream media.

Learn more at opensignalpdx.org.


About the Regional Arts & Culture Council

An independent nonprofit 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 racc.org.