National Endowment for the Arts awards $500,000 grant to Regional Arts & Culture Council

Funding will enhance RACC grantmaking for Clackamas, Washington county artists, and art organizations

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) will receive a $500,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) for the American Rescue Plan Grants to Local Art Agencies for Subgranting. The funds will deepen RACC’s commitment to equitable funding in communities responding to impacts from the economic and health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. RACC has effectively administered consistent and reliable grantmaking for more than 20 years to individual artists and creatives and smaller organizations serving culturally specific and diverse communities with enriching and accessible arts and culture programming.

“RACC has helped foster a vibrant and diverse arts landscape in Oregon, and this federal grant award will build on and expand that work,” said Oregon Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR). “I’m a staunch advocate for the arts because they enrich our communities in many ways. Yet despite the broad benefits of the arts, organizations like RACC often do not have the funding they need. I’m grateful to the NEA for recognizing RACC’s amazing work and for supporting the arts across the country.”

RACC provides grants and operating support to artists and arts organizations funded by a mix of public and private investments including grants from national, state, and local foundations, corporations, and private donors to the region. Unlike other NEA funding programs that offer project-based support, Rescue Plan funds are intended to support day-to-day business expenses and operating costs, and not specific programmatic activities.  Grants made with funding from this NEA award will be made to eligible organizations to support their own operations with an emphasis on Clackamas and Washington County.

“This grant enhances our ability to provide needed support to currently underfunded arts organizations throughout the three-county Metro area, ensuring they can continue enhancing the quality of life in our communities, and increasing public access to the arts,” said RACC Executive Director Madison Cario.

The program will be carried out through one-time grants to eligible organizations including, but not limited to, nonprofit arts organizations, local arts agencies, arts service organizations, units of state or local government, federally recognized tribal communities or tribes, and a wide range of other organizations that can help advance program goals.

An Interview with Congresswoman Bonamici about the Arts Education for All Act

Last week we were fortunate to catch up with Oregon Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) on Zoom to talk about the exciting new legislation she has introduced ensuring equitable arts education for students. Watch the video of our conversation with Rep. Bonamici, Chair of the Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services and Co-Chair of the STEAM Caucus, and read on to learn more about the Arts Education for All Act she introduced on Oct. 15, 2021.

Congresswoman Bonamici is a passionate advocate for the importance of a well-rounded education that includes arts integration and instruction as a part of every child’s school experience. Her mother was a painter and piano teacher and she knows first-hand the value of creative expression. As she explained on our call, “I know what a difference it makes for students to have arts education and arts in their lives, and that’s true regardless of what path they take in life. It helps students learn and grow in important ways.”

As of today, the Arts Education for All Act (H.R.5581)  is being co-sponsored by 25 Congressional Representatives and has been endorsed by more than 350 national, state, and local organizations. This includes the Regional Arts & Culture Council, Americans for the Arts, National Association of Music Merchants, Grantmakers for the Arts, and hundreds more regional and statewide arts organizations and schools. The Arts Education for All Act will support and encourage arts education and programming for young children, K-12 students, and youth and adults involved in the justice system. It will help close existing gaps in access to arts education, which has the potential to improve the lifelong health and success of both children and adults.

We hope you will join us in supporting arts education in our schools. With our focus on social justice and equity in all aspects of arts and culture, we know it is critical that this bill includes programs that benefit our at-risk youth, provide opportunities and professional development for our arts educators and arts specialists, and solidify a STEAM education in the Every Child Succeeds Act. We know that the arts create a pathway forward, provide hope, stimulate our creative economy and give us a voice. The Arts Education for All Act will only enhance these endeavors.

Support the Arts Education for All Act by signing up and showing your individual and/or organizational support today!

Find a one-page summary of the Arts Education for All Act here. Full text of the legislation can be found here.

For more information please contact Chanda Evans & Mario Mesquita


Creative Workers Back to Work with the Creative Economy Revitalization Act

Graphic image states 91% of all arts, culture and recreation businesses are solo entrepreneurship, and millions of creative workers are independent workers.How It Works
The Creative Economy Revitalization Act (CERA) would: 

                  • Get creatives working by creating competitive workforce grants program within the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act;
                  • Administer grants to eligible government, nonprofit, and for-profit organizations, as well as state and local workforce boards through the Department of Labor, in coordination with the National Endowment for the Arts;
                  • Require that grantees create art that is accessible to the public such as free concert series, large-scale murals, photography exhibits, published stories, or dance performances. 

To rebuild and reimagine the United States post-pandemic, we must put creative workers to work.
Looking to the future, and to recovery post-pandemic, CERA proposes to leverage our creative power, putting creative workers to work rebuilding, reimagining, unifying, and healing communities in Oregon and every state, every region, and within tribal lands.

“Millions of artists and creative workers have lost jobs during the past year. In Native communities, the loss of income and work has been dramatic with shuttered arts and cultural venues, cancelled festivals and gigs, and rescheduled fairs and events. The Creative Economy Revitalization Act will provide a lifeline to artists and the creative economy unlike anything seen since the WPA of 1933. Getting artists and creatives back to work creating public art is critical, and there is no greater power than the arts to unite, heal, and empower people and communities.”

–T. Lulani Arquette, President & CEO, Native Arts and Cultures Foundation

In 1935, facing 20% unemployment, President Roosevelt created the Works Progress Administration (WPA). In 1973, at a moment of similar crisis, President Nixon signed the Comprehensive Employment and Training Act (CETA). These federal policy efforts—one by a Democrat, one by a Republican—sparked national recovery at two crucial moments and can inspire action now.

Investment in the creative economy has proven essential in each previous workforce effort. Similar investment now can be a basis to foster unity, expand and improve infrastructure, address community health issues, and drive innovation, recovery, and reimagination. The next Administration must draw upon the creative energies of the country’s 5.1 million creative workers to energize our collective communities, reimagine how communities can thrive, and improve the lives of all.

Creative workers are a part of our local economy and everywhere across the United States. Like others who are unemployed and underemployed, creative workers have much to offer in healing, recovery, and beyond. Paying artists and other creative workers for their contributions to the health, equity, and well-being of our communities rebuilds our economy. These workers uniquely engage communities to contribute to well-being and connectivity, reflecting back local history, amplifying the unique character of places, and renewing the civic and social lives of community members through their work. To thrive tomorrow, we must create a jobs ecosystem for creative workers today.

“The National Alliance of Community and Economic Development Associations (NACEDA) is happy to support the Creative Economy Revitalization Act. We found most compelling that this Act would support creating local projects that tell community stories and bring forward community identity, particularly in the places, and among the people, most impacted by the pandemic.”

–Frank Woodruff, Executive Director, National Alliance of Community and Economic Development Associations

Creative workers, and the hundreds of thousands of creative businesses they drive, have been devastated by COVID-19, more than almost any other sector. One study pegs the creative worker unemployment rate at 63% and a collective income loss of more than $60 billion. Creative workers stand ready to heal, strengthen, rebuild, and reimagine our communities.

Arts and culture are crucial components of civic dialogue, and research shows that in the primary areas of concern for recovery—including racial justice, health, education, community cohesion, and public safety—the integration of creative workers improves outcomes and sets up the community for success. Through a suite of efforts coordinated via a centralized office housed in the West Wing, artists and creative workers can be put to work addressing pressing issues of the day.

Read more on 16 specific actions that the next Administration can take to activate the creative economy within a comprehensive national recovery strategy at www.creativeworkers.net 

To see more detail on the proposed actions to take to address these policies, which together would put 300,000 creative workers back to work, click here. These actions were arrived at through focus groups with the signatories to the Put Creative Workers to Work proposal.

This proposal was collaboratively developed by more than 100 partner organizations and individuals, and has been endorsed by more than 2,300 creative businesses and creative workers.

“Americans for the Arts, in partnership with the nation’s 4,500 local arts agencies, 56 state arts agencies, 5.2 million creative workers, and the state arts alliances that advocate for them, endorses this bill to invest in the creative economy. Supporting creative workers makes strong business sense as the arts drive economic and community transformation in American cities and towns. The Arts are a national asset, and our country thrives because artists and creative workers are a part of the collective workforce helping our citizens recover and grow from the trauma of COVID-19 and racial inequity, restart stalled local economies, and reimagine our shared way forward.”

– Nolen V. Bivens, President and CEO, Americans for the Arts  

The creative engine can power America’s economic recovery
Any investment in infrastructure, community, and workforce recovery must include the creative economy.

Additional Relief for Creative Workers and Companies Restart Funds & Hiring/Retention Incentives Federal Investment in Residencies, Commissions
To address the devastating longer-term impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the creative economy, and to preserve cultural infrastructure and capitalize on the economic and social rebuilding benefits of the arts, creative workers and creative businesses seek additional investment in relief efforts to support the sector. Both directly and by redistribution to local and state government, the creative sector seeks financial runways to allow cash-strapped creative businesses to restart and produce new sellable creative products and incentives for businesses and schools to accelerate rehiring and encourage retention of creative workers. Echoing previous federal works programs, the creative sector seeks artist and creative worker residencies within federal departments, direct commissioning of individual artists and cultural organizations, and the integration of creative workers into health, safety, education, and community development programs.
Improved Conditions for Independent Contractors Changes to Inequitable Federal Policies Stronger Representation within Government
91% of all arts, culture, and recreation businesses are solo entrepreneurs and millions of creative workers are independent workers. This locks them out of unemployment benefits, affordable health insurance, and access to capital–which must change to ensure a sustainable living. At no additional cost to the government, the creative sector seeks adjustments to various existing federal policies that disallow or discriminate against creative workers and other independent workers. To coordinate the policy relevant to the creative economy, with a particular focus on recovery and relief, the creative sector recommends the installation of an Arts, Culture, and Creative Economy senior advisor to maximize the impact and recognition of creative enterprise.

Adapted from the Put Creative Workers to Work platform, Oregon COVID-19 Impact Survey.

What Can You Do?
Advocates, use the E-alert on the CERA bill to quickly contact your members of Congress and request they join on to the legislation as a Co-Sponsor.

Click here to view an infographic to further explain this legislation.

Full bill text can be found here.

Read our previous posts about CERA:

Creative Work is Work

What is the Creative Economy Revitalization Act (CERA)? Why Do We Need It?






Leadership Transition Update – Leaning Into Shared Leadership

Two women, both black, stand in front of poster showing blue sky and historic Portland home. They are both smiling and looking into the camera.

RACC’s Directors-In-Charge: Carol Tatch (left) and Della Rae

Last month the Board of Directors of the Regional Arts & Culture Council announced that Executive Director Madison Cario would be leaving RACC for a new position in the Bay Area starting in December. Since that time, a Core Team of board members and senior RACC leadership team members have been mapping out a transition plan to ensure smooth operations and continuity of programs and services at RACC. The organization stands in a strong position to meet community needs. Among other measures, we’re diversifying our funding, including securing grants from national, state, and local foundations, corporations, and private donors.

We are excited to announce that Carol Tatch will serve leading External Operations and Della Rae will serve leading Internal Operations. This is a shared leadership model that provides business continuity and stability for the organization.

Our Core Team, composed of board members and the RACC Leadership Team, will continue meeting weekly to explore the benefits of shared leadership models for running arts organizations, as well as considering traditional models with an Executive Director. In the coming months, RACC will take stakeholder input and interview other nonprofit organizations that have implemented innovative leadership models here in Oregon and arts organizations across the country.

The Core Team is committed to using this transition to deepen the relationships between the Board of Directors and RACC department leads. The Core Team includes Nathan Rix, RACC Board Chair, Leslie Heilbrunn, RACC Co-Chair, Shani Harris-Bagwell, James Smith, Eve Connell, Madison Cario, Carol Tatch, Della Rae, Kristin Calhoun, Helen Daltoso, and Cindy Knapp.

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 the Portland region’s ever-evolving and growing arts community.

Meet the rest of the team.

Arts Education for All 2021 Act


On Oct. 15, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR, District 1), Chair of the Education and Labor Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services, Chellie Pingree (D-ME), and Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM) introduced comprehensive legislation to increase access to arts education. Bonamici hosted a virtual rollout and reception of her Arts Education for All Act (H.R.5581), that will address equity gaps in access to arts education for K-12 students and youth and adults in the justice system.

The Arts Education for All Act has been endorsed by more than 300 national, state, and local organizations, including Americans for the Arts, National Association of Music Merchants, and Grantmakers for the Arts. We’ve added our name to the list of supporters and you can, too.

As an arts and culture organization with social justice embedded in our mission, vision, and values, we support arts organizations and artists that make a difference in our community through their impactful engagement in the arts with at-risk youth. The Arts Education for All Act will only enhance these programs.

“Arts and culture education for every Oregonian is our goal because it is critical to our understanding of each other, our healing, and our progress as a country,” said Sue Hildick, Senior Advisor to the Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon. We are beyond proud that our congresswoman has made this a priority.”

The bill covers various aspects of Arts Education including:

Caregiving & Early Education

  • Makes sure Child Care Development Block grant funding can be used for arts programming.

K-12 Access & Supporting Arts Educators

  • Expands Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) plan requirements to clarify how states can support and encourage arts education to improve student achievement in all subjects
  • Guarantees professional development for arts educators and for all educators on arts integration
  • Directs research activities on arts and arts education at the Institute of Education Sciences
  • Provides critical data to assess arts education disparities by reinstating the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in the Arts, which was terminated in 2019.

Afterschool & Summer Learning

  • Reinforces that the integration of the arts and arts education can be accomplished by 21st Century Community Learning Centers and other arts nonprofit organizations
  • Incorporates support for partnerships to increase the amount of arts education and creative youth development available in afterschool and summer learning programs in state plans.

Arts Education and the Justice System

  • Requires state plans under the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act to describe how the state will coordinate services and activities for juvenile justice and delinquency prevention with arts agencies and arts organizations
  • Facilitates arts education to be used for reentry efforts and to reduce recidivism by connecting adults involved in the justice system to educational opportunities and employment after reentry.

Read the press release from Oregon Representative Suzanne Bonamici here.

Locally, look no further than the Morpheus Youth Project’s mural program and the Multnomah County Court House Youth collaboration to see the importance of creativity in young people’s development. We know that it takes a village to raise, support, and elevate our youth. RACC is proud to promote and support these programs and collaboration with youth in our community.

Our artlook®oregon, a partnership with the Kennedy Center and Ingenuity-Chicago, provides a real-time arts education database platform that connects communities, schools, and families to arts-related resources in their backyard. These partnerships create the opportunity for a well-rounded arts education to be possible for all K-12 youth in our schools.

The Arts Education for All Act addresses the gap in access to arts education and has the potential to improve the lifelong  health and achievement of both children and adults. Arts education and programming can be federally funded under various existing programs, however, currently there is a lack of clarity and information available about how the funds can be used. Unfortunately, as we have witnessed in the Pacific Northwest, this results in limited and inequitable access to the arts for students and adults in underserved communities.

“The Arts Education for All Act will help bring the power of arts education to early childhood programs, low-income K-12 students and systems-involved youth on a scale we haven’t seen before,” said Eddie Torres, President and CEO of Grantmakers in the Arts. “By empowering childcare, K-12 schools, and programs serving systems-involved youth, this bill has the potential to enrich lives and expand educational opportunities for millions,” said Eddie Torres, President and CEO of Grantmakers in the Arts. “The arts community, but most importantly the children of our nation, owe a great deal of thanks to the innovative leadership of Representative Bonamici for introducing this critical legislation.”

If this becomes legislation, it will support and encourage arts education and programming for our youngest learners, K-12 students, including youth and adults involved in the criminal court and justice systems. The bill also includes provisions that support rigorous arts and arts education research to continue to inform how elementary and secondary education outcomes are affected by a well-rounded education.

The Arts Education for All Act incorporates support for partnerships to increase the amount of arts education and creative youth development available in afterschool and summer learning programs in state plans. We know art changes lives. We understand that a well-rounded arts education includes arts integration. This Act reinforces that the integration of the arts and arts education can be accomplished by 21st Century Community Learning Centers and other arts nonprofit organizations.

In collaboration with Trauma Informed Oregon, this spring we kicked off a series of trauma-informed workshops for our K-12 arts educators in six school districts in Multnomah County running through the 2021-2022 school year. These workshops are free, virtual, and provide much-needed resources to ensure our arts educators have the tools they need to address the trauma that we have all experienced. We know that the arts enable students to express themselves and navigate through stress and anxiety. The Arts Education for All Act guarantees professional development for our arts educators and arts integration specialists. We are proud to recognize the importance of social-emotional healing and recovery through the arts and provide these valuable workshops in our community.

Support the Arts Education for All Act by signing up and showing your individual and/or organizational support today!

A one-page summary of the Arts Education for All Act can be found here. The text of the legislation can be found here.

For more information please contact Chanda Evans & Mario Mesquita


Portland Artist Jose Ruiz Valentine Selected for Fresh Paint Mural

See his design come to life on Open Signal’s building on MLK Blvd.

Large wall mural shows Virgin Guadalupe surrounded by orange and yellow flames, adjacent to a large green serpent

Portland Artist Jose Ruiz Valentine’s mural, Venerated Mother, in progress on the wall at Open Signal offices on MLK Blvd.

Every day thousands of people pass by Open Signal’s building on Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. at Graham Street. Pass by the building today, and you’ll get to see work-in-progress on the latest temporary mural being created by Jose Ruiz Valentine, a 20-year old Portland artist who graduated from Rosemary Anderson High School in 2019. The mural design reflects his Chicano history and culture. The large, colorful mural depicting a serpent and catholic imagery is titled Venerated Mother.

In a partnership between the Regional Arts & Culture Council and Open Signal called Fresh Paint, artists are selected for this professional development opportunity. The initiative provides emerging artists of color with a paid opportunity to paint a public mural for the first time in Portland.

With a focus on graffiti and various forms of illustrative art, Valentine has been involved with local youth and artistic groups including the Red Stone Collective and Morpheus Youth Project for years. He uses art as a way to seek restorative justice in his life and works to help youth make positive changes in their own lives.

“I feel blessed to have the opportunity to share this iconography on a large public mural,” Valentine explains in his artist statement. “I want to make this type of artwork and cultural iconography accessible for everyone to see. I’m especially excited to share it with those whose roots relate with this work. These images represent an ancient culture with a beautiful and powerful history. I am still trying to understand these images as well, in the context of the current life that I live. I’m hoping doing this work will deepen my understanding of them.”

The Fresh Paint partnership is designed to support artists like Valentine, who don’t have experience with publicly funded commissions. “We want to get up-and-coming artists like Jose the support and resources they need to develop a new skill set and build their portfolio,” explains Salvador Mayoral, who facilitates RACC’s Public Art Murals Program. “For many of the selected artists, the mural projects have led to other public commissions or funding opportunities,” he adds.

See more artwork from Jose Ruiz Valentine.

Artist Statement – Venerated Mother

“The Virgin Guadalupe is a Cultural icon to (Mexican) people.  To some, it has spiritual value as a symbol of Catholicism.  To others, it is a visual symbol that exists in and represents our homes. My brother who died recently used to wear a necklace of the virgin around his neck. To me, it represents my brother.  His name was Kingo.

Serpent imagery is a part of Mexika (Aztec) cultural and spiritual/religious symbolism. It is part of a more ancient belief system of Mesoamerica.  The two-headed serpent Goddess is also referred to as Tonantzin Coatlicue. She is the birth of the Sun, moon, and stars. She represents fertility, life, and death. I named my daughter Tonantzin so she will remember our culture, and preserve it with her presence. For me, the serpent imagery represents my daughter.”

To qualify for the Fresh Paint opportunity, artists must live in the greater Portland metropolitan area, defined as Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties in Oregon and Clark County in Washington. RACC runs the selection process, relying on past Fresh Paint muralists to review submissions and recommend which new artists should be selected.

Selected artists receive a stipend for their participation and are offered the opportunity to engage with Open Signal’s resources and programming. Since the Fresh Paint partnership between RACC and Open Signal kicked off in 2017, 10 artists have been selected. Each mural is hosted for at least four months and then painted over in preparation for the next artist.


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

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.


Next steps for toppled and removed monuments – Updated FAQ

Updated following RACC Board Action 10/13/2021

What is the status of statues that were removed or toppled in 2020 protests?
The statues from the City of Portland’s public art collection are secured in a temporary storage facility. This includes: George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt: Rough Rider, Harvey Scott, Promised Land, and Elk.

Will these statues be returned to their former locations?
RACC’s Public Art Committee (PAC) oversees and guides Public Art Program policies for the selection, placement, and maintenance of works of art acquired through the Percent for Art Program and other public/private programs RACC manages. When necessary, RACC also oversees the review, re-contextualizing, relocation and removal of artworks from these public collections. On Sept. 29 the RACC Board endorsed the Public Art Committee’s recommendation not to automatically return five of the toppled or removed statues to their previous locations (excluding the Elk).

What about the Elk statue?
City officials and RACC have determined separately that the Elk will return to downtown Portland. The project details, budget and timeline are being developed.

What happens next?
On Oct. 13, the RACC Board approved Monument Review Guidelines for City of Portland outlining the criteria and process for determining the next steps for these five statues. If accepted by Commissioner Rubio (City liaison to RACC) and the City Arts Program, it sets in motion a process of determining next steps for each individual monument. Should the monuments be assigned a new home? Should all of them remain in the public collection? According to the Monument Review Guidelines, consideration of these questions requires meaningful community engagement that centers the voices of community members whose culture and histories have not been represented in public spaces. Each of these statues has its own unique story and engagement may vary depending on the stakeholders.

How can the community get involved?
Community engagement and stakeholder input is required as part of the process. Please contact the City Arts Program in Portland  for the most up to date information or the office of Commissioner Rubio.

Why is RACC recommending these monuments for review?
In our role as the steward of the City of Portland and Multnomah County’s public art collections, the Regional Arts & Culture Council works intentionally with artists, community organizations, and public partners to ensure that the public’s art collection represents our diverse cultural histories and identities. As we consider the disposition of monuments toppled or removed in 2020, our mission and values guide our recommendations and consideration of next steps. Similarly, we look to the City’s adopted policies for guidance and find this recommendation to be consistent with recent action by the Portland City Council recommending new public art representing more diverse cultural identities and histories for the South Park Blocks. The George Washington statue cannot be returned to its former site as that site is privately owned and the owners do not wish to have it in that location anymore.

RACC’s Public Art Committee revised policies regarding the donation and removal (deaccession) of art from the public collection. What were the major changes?
The committee, in consultation with city leadership, reviewed the Public Art Program policies and criteria as they relate to donation and deaccession (removal) of memorials, monuments, and statues. The PAC updated those policies to align with RACC’s mission, vision, and values and the City’s value of antiracism. The updated policy states that public artworks can be removed if the “subject or impact of an artwork is significantly at odds with values of antiracism, equity, inclusion.” They also expanded circumstances that can lead to the removal of a piece of artwork, if it becomes a rallying place for “gatherings centered on racist or bigoted ideology.” RACC’s board endorsed these changes in May 2021. The Monument Review Guidelines approved by the RACC Board are consistent with these policies.

What happens to a statue if a determination is made to remove it from the public art collection?
If a decision is made to “deaccession” an artwork (remove it from the collection), it could be traded or sold, returned to the donors, recycled or destroyed.

Creative Work Is Work

Creative Economy Revitalization Act

Art has the power to remind us of all we have in common. It’s what turns a group of individuals into a community. As our nation recovers from the pandemic, the Creative Economy Revitalization Act (CERA) offers an opportunity to put Americans to work creating art that brings our communities together.

Our creative sector is a critical and robust part of our economy. As Oregon and the U.S. begin to recover from the pandemic, we have a responsibility to lift up those who were hit the hardest. This includes our creative workers and the communities they serve. Through the Creative Economy Revitalization Act (CERA) we have the opportunity to put Oregonians to work creating art that unites our communities. In a time when our nation is divided, the diversity of our cultures, as well as our differences and overlapping shared experiences, binds us together.

On a teal background in black letters: $.83 of every dollar invested in an artist is reinvested in local economies.

The Creative Sector Drives Travel, Tourism, and Hospitality
of every dollar
Invested in an artist is reinvested in local economies in the form of supplies, rentals, supplemental hiring, and other expenses that would not occur without that initial investment
$31.47 Average amount each arts attendee spends beyond the ticket cost on meals, retail, parking, lodging, local transportation, childcare, and souvenirs. That’s over $100 billion each year to support local merchants, energize downtowns, and pay salaries and wages in non-arts sectors directly due to cultural events.



The creative economy drives our community’s economy! If our local creative economies collapse or are unable to effectively restart, communities across the country could face economic catastrophe, with an even more difficult time recovering and restarting. The 675,000 small businesses within the creative economy anchor highly interdependent local commercial ecosystems that create and sustain retail, restaurants, hospitality, tourism, and transportation. Of those, more than 9-in-10 are solo entrepreneurs. Previously, those businesses employ as many as 5 million people – over a third are independent or gig workers (more than 3.5 times the national average).

Who are Creative Workers?
You probably know a creative worker, now! There are 5.1 million creative workers in the U.S., as identified by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. A creative worker is anyone who earns income from creative, cultural, or artistic-based pursuits, whether they earn that income independently (as an independent contractor, solo entrepreneur, or gig worker, for example) or via an employer. Creative workers use the unique human quality of individual expression to produce ideas, content, goods, and services.

As outlined in CERA, job titles that fall into the “creative worker” category include: art director, artist, animator, sculptor, writer, author, poet, photographer, musician, singer, producer, director, actor, announcer, storyteller, comedian, dancer, architect, designer (of any type), programmer, choreographer, technician, backstage or behind-the-scenes staff, curator, or other support staff who make creative work possible.

Creative workers pictured above selected from our “Capturing the Moment” call for artworks of all media created during 2020 pandemic.

On a teal background in black letters: 76% of artists have used their art to raise morale and create community cohesion during the pandemic

Creative Workers and Businesses Stand Ready to Aid Recovery
76% Of artists have used their art to raise morale and create community cohesion during the pandemic.
83% Of creative workers are ready today to put their creative practice to use as part of the national recovery.
89% Of arts nonprofits boosted morale through their art during the pandemic.


Creative Workers to Help Community Recover
CERA is a $300 million program that will mitigate creative worker displacement, stimulate local creative workforce growth, strengthen connections for local creative small businesses and networks, create a pipeline for new creative jobs, enrich communities, increase access to culture, and invest in creative workers and local economies that have been harmed by COVID-19.

The presence of arts and culture sparks additional spending on local businesses, restaurants, and hotels. It can increase property values, improve education outcomes for students, boost community pride and social cohesion while inspiring political and social activation. In addition to driving 4.3% of the country’s gross domestic product, arts and culture have significant local economic, social, and individual impact.

At the height of the pandemic, two-thirds of all creative workers (2.7 million people) were completely unemployed. Today, creative workers are 3-4 times more likely to be unemployed compared to the national rate. Nationally, creative economy jobs dropped by 53% between the end of 2019 and the middle of 2020, and have only recovered about half of that to date. The emergence of new variants of COVID-19 continues to threaten the fragile, partial re-opening of the creative sector that has begun. CERA seeks to employ artists/creatives and strengthen local economies by incentivizing investment in civic infrastructure fueled by creative workers and a recovering creative workforce.

CERA calls for the authorization of $300 million to the new grant program to be housed and administered at the Department of Labor, with advice and collaboration from the National Endowment for the Arts. The grants will go to local, state, and tribal agencies, workforce investment boards, and public or private nonprofit entities that can hire local creative workers and produce creative projects that meet local needs and priorities. These projects could include public artworks, festivals, performances, written works, anthologies and narrative collections from first responders and historically marginalized communities, and arts education work.*

*Adapted from creativeworkers.net

Click here to send an Action Alert to your representatives telling them to co-sponsor and vote for the Creative Economy Revitalization Act.

Read our previous blogpost about CERA.


Reference Links