Millions in new state and local funding is coming available for arts non-profits and artists, performing arts spaces, music venues, and small businesses. Timelines are short. Read below to see where you or your organization can tap into these new resources.

Watch our COVID-19 resources page for details on new grants and relief opportunities as we know them.


Funds for performing arts spaces, music venues, independent film theaters

In July Portland City Council allocated $2.5 million in federal COVID relief funding for Portland-based businesses and non-profit organizations that program  public space for music, dance, and independent film and that are unable to open until Phase III of the state’s re-opening due to the ongoing COVID-19 public health shutdown.

Up to $2 million will be available in grants ranging from $10,000 to $50,000 for commercial entities with eligible expenses related to the coronavirus closure in accordance with federal requirements.  An additional $500,000 is dedicated to non-profit entities for the same purpose.

Priority will be placed on supporting applicant organizations that are led by or serve Black, Indigenous, and all people of color (BIPOC) community members, that have not previously received other state funds, or that present or partner with local artists and musicians.  The federal CARES Act requires that funding be used only to cover expenses that are necessary expenditures incurred due to the economic shutdown and that were incurred during the period that began on March 1, 2020, and ends on Dec. 30, 2020.

Prosper Portland and RACC will host a panel review process. Staff will screen for eligibility and priority
criteria. Panels made up of a diverse group of community representatives will review eligible
applications using the following priority and review criteria. More details in the application guidelines.

Businesses and organizations apply here www.racc.org/apply

Deadline for submission 5 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 23, 2020.

Read the FAQ for more details.


New Round of Small Business Assistance Grants 

Individual cities and counties have their own deadlines and requirements for these funds.

Resources and information here: https://www.mesopdx.org/grants/

Opening Sept. 14 in Portland: https://prosperportland.us/[portfolio-items][portland-small-business-relief-fund]

In Washington County: https://www.co.washington.or.us/CAO/business-recovery.cfm


Application Closed – Oregon Cultural Trust Coronavirus Relief Funds

Funding for Cultural Nonprofits and Community Venues

When: Application closed Aug. 24 at noon.

Cultural Coalitions in each county will help make funding decisions by September 14.

Find out more about how the City of Portland allocated $114 million in federal CARES ACT funding

Learn more about State COVID Relief funding for arts and music


Keep any eye out here and on our COIVD-19 resources page for more updates.

Five muralists transform vacant building in Chinatown/Japantown

Diverse local artists commissioned in Portland

Last weekend, five local artists began new murals on boarded up sections of the former House of Louis restaurant, located in Portland’s Chinatown/Japantown Historic District (NW Fourth and Davis). The murals add to the building’s colorful and distinct façade. The Old Town Community Association is managing the project with funding for the artists provided by the Regional Arts & Culture Council.

Although many businesses throughout Portland closed their doors in March in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the House of Louis restaurant has sat shuttered since January 2018. It was the last Dim Sum restaurant to operate in Old Town. The buildings new murals face a section of NW Davis Street designated the Davis Festival Street, recently revitalized and restored by the Association.

“So many artists out there creating important work are not being paid. We were thrilled to be brought into this project to support individual artists financially, provide a platform for diverse voices, and give the community something inspiring and beautiful,” said the art council’s Executive Director, Madison Cario.

The five commissioned artists:

  • Amaranta Colindres*
  • Latoya Lovely
  • Rebecca Rodelo*
  • Yasmin Correa*
  • Devin Finley

*pictured above

The Regional Arts & Culture Council’s murals program is designed to deepen our communities’ sense of place, uplift diverse voices, tell stories and empower local artists.

Regional Arts & Culture Council elects new board members

On July 1, Parker Lee became RACC’s new board chair, succeeding Linda McGeady who will serve as Chair Emeritus until June 30, 2021. Founder and managing partner of the design consultancy, Territory, and co-author of “The Art of Opportunity,” Parker Lee is a veteran of the technology, entertainment and sports marketing industries.

Joining Parker on the Executive Committee are Treasurer James Smith, and Secretary Frances Portillo. The Vice Chair position remains open.

The RACC board also elected three new members. Full board and staff profiles are available online at racc.org/about/staff-board.


Shani Marie Harris-Bagwell

Shani recently launched Shani Bagwell Consulting, a firm focusing on EDI and accessibility, committed to empowering underserved communities, and giving voice to the voiceless. She serves on the Basic Rights Oregon Equity PAC Board, the Multnomah County Commission Audit Review Committee, and the Portland Bureau of Transportation Pricing Options for Equity for Mobility Committee. Shani holds a Bachelor of Music in Vocal Performance with an emphasis in Contemporary Commercial Music. She has performed throughout the United States and internationally.

Gender Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


Leesha Posey

Leesha Posey is an organizational leader, small business coach, educator and advocate for intentional and purposeful equity, diversity and inclusion. She is currently the Equity Manager for the City of Portland’s Bureau of Development Services. She is a member of the Community Budget Review Committee for Portland Public Schools, National Forum for Black Public Administrators, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People as well as the other local and national organizations. She has served as co-chair for the North/Northeast Community Development Initiative Oversight Committee for Prosper Portland, and is an alumna of Emerge Oregon Leadership program.

Gender Pronouns: She/Her/Hers


Nathan Rix

Nathan is passionate about elevating the social value of public art because of how it influences the imagination of Oregonians. Nathan is currently the Deputy Director, Strategy & Policy with the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. Nathan has served on numerous non-profit and public sector boards and commissions that serve the tri-county area (Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas counties), including as the Chairman of the Budget Committee with the City of Tigard. He currently serves as a Commissioner with Oregon Volunteers, which funds state-based AmeriCorps programs and promotes service, volunteerism and civic engagement across all of Oregon diverse communities.

Gender Pronouns: He/Him/His


Support Beam artists announced

by Morgan Ritter, Support Beam Project Manager, Public Art Exhibitions & Collections Coordinator

Support Beam intends to strengthen artists towards a long-term re-imagination and multi-pronged activation of their work, with no restrictions on media. Participating artists will contribute virtual work-in-progress share-outs which will be released on RACC’s web and social media platforms—follow along! At the conclusion of the artists’ work period, one art piece will be acquired into the Portable Works Public Art Collection.

Support Beam is not structured by simple transaction or purchase; its goal is to support artists’ long-term creative practice and livelihood, outside of a fixed expectation of production. Inspired by the depression-era Works Progress Administration (W.P.A.), this program utilizes “Percent for Art” funds from Multnomah County to commission a body of public art without restriction to media or themes, and aspires to sustain as many artists as possible during a precarious economic and political time.

This new opportunity prioritizes Black artists, Indigenous artists, and artists of color for several reasons. Initially this prioritization was made to acknowledge the disproportionate impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has on BIPOC communities. With the rise of racial justice movements, and our country’s expansive confrontation and dialogue around privilege, we collectively began to define this disproportionate impact as a direct result of historical and ongoing systemic inequities. In addition, the Public Art Collection is being increasingly diversified. Through these Support Beam additions, and intentional additions to the Visual Chronicle of Portland, the collection begins to more accurately represent the many distinct communities who enliven our region.

The artists were selected by a group of panel members that similarly reflect the artist community Support Beam is intended to uplift and give voice. This panel of artists, arts workers, County staff and writers reviewed almost 200 artist applications and, through hours of conversation and collective decision making, awarded about 10 percent of artists who applied.

Panelists included:

  • Sharita Towne
  • Monique Smiley
  • Jiseon Lee Isbara
  • Matthew Juniper
  • Garrick Imatani

With pleasure, we announce the first round of recipients:

John Akira Harrold


Jessica Mehta


garima thakur


manuel arturo abreu


Donovan Smith


Tabitha Nikolai & deSolid State

https://tabithanikolai.com/, desolidstate.com

Jonathan Sanders

Alan Page


Lehuauakea Fernandez


Daren Todd

Maya Vivas


Ivan Salcido


rubén garcía marrufo


Terresa White




Patricia Vázquez Gómez


Beck Smith


Mami Takahashi


Eddie Melendrez


Time for Review of Public Art

The toppling of the statue of George Washington on June 18, 2020, is part of our critical national conversation about systemic racism and injustice. Portland is part of this conversation as people examine the point of view these statues represent and consider the impact on Black Portlanders.

Last Wednesday, City Council adopted six core values to guide the City’s decision-making and workplace culture: anti-racism, equity, transparency, communication, collaboration, and fiscal responsibility. Together, the City Arts Program and the Regional Arts & Culture Council are working to determine what pieces in the public art collection no longer align with the City’s values. RACC has a short list of statues in the collection that have been identified by staff and community members as problematic or harmful. RACC is preparing to make a recommendation to the City about pieces that should be removed from the public collection.

The City Arts Program also intends to work with RACC over the coming months to review the entire collection, including portable works. But with more than 2000 pieces, that will take time, research, listening and learning.

George Washington statue, toppled by protesters, June 18, 2020

Standing for Justice

This past week has been devastating, with the murder of George Floyd painfully following so many others who were also victims of state-sanctioned violence. Systemic racism and white supremacy need to be stopped. The impact of what is going on across this country, across Portland, and in our neighborhoods is – all-at-once – deeply traumatic, long overdue, relevant and impossible and it feels wildly inappropriate to just jump back to business-as-usual. Going back is not an option.

At RACC we are working to create an equitable, diverse, inclusive, and accessible organization. The process is long. For many it is painfully slow, and for others, still inadequate. While we have had successes making our programs more equitable; we are struggling to center the voices of those that have been systematically marginalized. We have blind spots.

As the leader of this organization, I know I must do more, do it better, and do it now. Recognizing and acknowledging structural inequities that exclude individuals and communities from opportunities based on race, gender, disability, sexual orientation, class, age, and geography is not enough. We must act to counter those inequities and biases in ourselves and our work. I commit myself and this organization to stand in solidarity with others who are doing this work.  

This is the time for our community to come together and take action for justice. Whether we are standing shoulder to shoulder, supporting from behind or leading from the front – there are many ways that those who are non-BIPOC can, and should, show up. I hope you will join us as we stand with artists, activists, organizers, and communities working together to make change.

 –  Madison Cario, Executive Director

RACC has developed a list of places your money or your volunteer time can have a direct impact for Black communities –  local, regional and national organizations where you can show up, connect, donate, volunteer. Please share:

Don’t Shoot Portland

Black United Fund
For over 30 years, Black United Fund of Oregon has been committed to providing financial support and life-changing programs for low-income communities and communities of color in Oregon. The ultimate goal of the Black United Fund of Oregon (BUF) is to increase opportunities for growth by encouraging philanthropic activity in our state and putting funds in the hands of organizations providing resources for underserved communities.

Coalition of Communities of Color
The Coalition of Communities of Color’s mission is to address the socioeconomic disparities, institutional racism, and inequity of services experienced by our families, children and communities; and to organize our communities for collective action resulting in social change to obtain self-determination, wellness, justice and prosperity.

The Portland African American Leadership Forum helps our Black community imagine the alternatives we deserve and build our civic participation and leadership to achieve those alternatives.

NAACP of Portland

The NAACP of Portland works to ensure the political, educational, social and economic equality of rights of all persons and eliminating racial hatred and discrimination.

The Urban League of Portland
The Urban League of Portland’s mission is to empower African-Americans and others to achieve equality in education, employment, health, economic security and quality of life.

The MRG Foundation
The MRG Foundation believes in the power of collective action to change the world.

Our message to audiences is: “Please stay with us. We’re in this together.”

Arts consultant George Thorn on strategizing for a post-COVID world

By Joni Renee Whitworth


George Thorn is a co-founder of Arts Action Research, a national arts-consulting group. The focus of his consulting is the Regional Arts & Cultural Council’s Cultural Leadership Program. He also co-leads RACC’s Art of Leadership, a six-part board training program offered annually. More about George, below.

George shared his thoughts about navigating the uncertainty of this pandemic and creating a strategy for engaging with artists and audiences. 


Arts and culture will never be needed more than they are today. Considering artists and arts organizations, we know that everyone’s going to be hurt in some way, except for the very wealthy. There are a lot of people and a lot of sectors’ going to hurt really, really badly. That’s the world that we are inhabiting. Our message to audiences is: “Please stay with us. We’re in this together.”

What’s the next step for arts orgs in putting together a strategic plan for after the pandemic? Some people are in relatively good shape, some of them really have cash flow problems, whatever it is. We know that we’re not going to go back to the way it was. It’s going to be a very different reality. It’s time to ask the leadership of each organization to begin to envision what they think this new reality will be for them, how they begin to think about it, what needs to be in it, who needs to be in it, what are the needs within that, what do we need to learn? Knowing as they develop this vision of the next reality, they’ll have to be very adaptive and keep learning.

How are we going to evolve? We need a very simple sort of plan of evolution and financial framework and a programmatic framework. With that plan, which will keep changing, leaders can say to everyone who’s close to them, “This is what we know now. These are things we’re envisioning. We have a timeline that we want to begin. We have intended to do this project here and there. At a certain point, we have made a decision whether or not we can do that project.” Then it’s a matter of helping keep that information going. So, as an arts leader, you’re really saying, “Knowing what we don’t know, so and so, what we’re doing, please stay with us, we’re in this together. We can’t wait to get back into a room with you, with artists making art.”

There is a point of no return. If we want to do a show in October, what’s the point of no return when we have to do that, when we have to make that decision? What artists are doing now, in terms of streaming and video, that’s all testing. Is this a good experience for the artists? Is this a good experience for the audience? It’s different from someone teaching yoga. I think it’s pretty straight ahead. We could consider hosting one-person shows, but we also know that people at some point will want to get into a room again with artists making their work, or get into a gallery to see art in person.

I had some contact with some arts leaders, and they said, “We don’t know anything, so we can’t plan.” Well, now’s the time to plan, because if we wait till we know everything, we’ll be too far behind. A good example of someone who’s doing good work is Samantha from Shaking the Tree Theatre. When the pandemic began, I said, “Samantha, so what are you doing?”

She said, “I spent half the day in the office. The other half of the day, I’m in the theater. I’m painting eight, six by eight panels. I’m working with a sound engineer and a lighting engineer. I’m going to create an immersive experience called Refuge.” That production may have a life in the fall. But this is the artist’s way of thinking: “I want to be back in the studio. I want to be making work.”

Art’s now going to be redefined in different ways by different people. What is that connection with audiences, with readers, with gallery goers?

Artists give us perspective. They give us a way of thinking. It’s in their responses to what they’re seeing and hearing and thinking about. We saw that so much after 9/11: people went out eventually, but they wanted a wide range of things. Some people wanted Beethoven. Some people wanted to laugh, so they went to a comedy club. Some people needed to write. We will come back together, but people will want to experience art in a very personal way, and in all forms: theater, dance, music, literary, AR/XR, visuals. We may get some new audiences through that. Some people may not think of going into a performance venue, but they somehow got into streaming one artist or another online during COVID-19. Oregon Shakespeare Festival is streaming video of shows they’ve done, but it’s a different experience.

Many arts organizations want “the younger audience”. In Gen Z, everyone is a storyteller, a videographer. They’re making work. They’re showing their work. They’re influencers. They participate; their communication is totally participatory. Most traditional art is observational; you sit and observe – a totally different experience. Smart arts leaders need to think about how to market, then, to these people. Normally, when you go into a theater, the house lights go to half, then you turn off your phones and devices. We may be ready to change that model. We need to be thinking about meeting everyone’s needs and making art more participatory. We do have examples of, “After the show, please go on the web and leave a comment”, but that’s not a real talk back; that is still observing.

Now, if we have phones out at a concert, the older audience may resist it. They want to have a singular focus. We have tension there. It’s time to address it. This is an interesting space. Let’s see if there is some other way to address this, creatively. This is what artists do every day. Artists come up with an idea for a project, whatever it is, and they invest in that, whether it’s a single artist or a group project, it’s about problem solving. What they do is they solve problems, they have vision! There’s never enough time, people or money, but they still make it happen. How do we collaborate, who do we need to collaborate with? Where is our audience and our buyers? What artists do every day is solve problems, move forward, have a vision, and keep the project going. In that way, the pandemic is not as new – this is the type of thinking artists do every day.

For any artist starting any project, there’s a risk. You have no idea how it’s going to turn out, whether anyone’s going to be interested in it, what’s the audience that we want for this work, etc. But we do have a process. Scientists and artists share a process: trial, discovery, vision. With a scientific process, the idea is someone puts forth an assumption, and everybody does everything they can do to disprove it. If you can’t disprove it, it becomes a new reality. With making art, someone puts forth an assumption and through collaboration and work and so forth, something new and larger is created. The making of art, the creative process, is the best planning, problem solving and decision-making process available to human beings. I’m amazed every day by what artists make with so little. 

George Thorn works as a consultant in all aspects of organizational development as well as making presentations to conferences and workshops. In parallel with his consulting activities, for eighteen years he directed the graduate program in Arts Administration at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Virginia. He was the Associate Director of FEDAPT. Prior to these activities, he was the Executive Vice-President of the Eugene O’Neill Theater Center. George spent sixteen years in New York where he had a general management firm that managed Broadway, Off-Broadway, and touring companies. George began his career as a stage manager of Broadway productions. In 1996, he relocated to Portland, Oregon, to open the West Coast office of Arts Action Research. In Portland, he has consulted with over three hundred and fifty arts and cultural organizations and artists.

Announcing two new calls for public art; more support for artists

In response to the impact on artists of COVID-19, the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) announces two calls for new public art; an initiative to further emerging visual artists making work in Oregon and Southwest Washington and a direct purchase of artwork for the Visual Chronicle of Portland. Eligible artists may apply to either or both opportunities.

Consistent with RACC’s equity framework, the selection panels will prioritize submissions from artists not already well represented in the Portable Works Public Art Collection including Black and Indigenous artists, and artists of color.

The Visual Chronicle of Portland – a collection of works on paper that portray artists’ perceptions of what makes the city of Portland, Oregon unique. The budget for new acquisitions is $15,000. To serve as many artists as possible, individual pieces must be priced no more than $1,000. Funding is from the City of Portland.

Submission Closing: Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 5 p.m. PST.

Support Beam – intended to strengthen artists towards the production of new work over a period of three to six months. The overall budget for this initiative is $70,000. Selected artists will receive between $3,000 and $5,000. Funding is from Multnomah County’s Percent for Art Program.

Submission Closing: Wednesday, June 3, 2020 at 5 p.m. PST.

Details about the new calls for public art.


Two new supports announced for our artists and art organization partners

Arts and culture organizations, individual artists and creative workers need support now – we have been uniquely impacted and are among the first folks hurt financially by the limits on public gatherings and physical distancing requirements. 

That is why RACC moved quickly to advocate for and provide relief to the arts community. Our first actions included setting up the Emergency Fund for Individual Artists and bringing together arts funders from around the state to create a one-stop, pooled fund for nonprofit arts organizations administered by the Oregon Community Foundation. 

Last week, more than 200 artists were awarded emergency funds of up to $500. Next week, awards will go out to another 100+ artists – thanks to generous community support (donate here). 

We’ve been asking  what other support can we offer to artists and art organizations right now? 

I’m pleased to say we announced today two new efforts 

Two new calls for public art  $85,000 total to invest in artists from Oregon and Southwest Washington, including new acquisitions of art for The Visual Chronicle of Portland. Find out more on our website – submissions due end of May. 

Distribution of $800,000 from RACC reserves directly to our local arts organization partners this fiscal yearThese additional funds will go to the 68 arts organizations already receiving annual awards of general operating AND capacity building support from RACC. The reserve funds are available thanks to Portland residents that voted for and paid into the Arts Education and Access Fund also known as the “arts tax”. In 2018 RACC was given an unexpected allocation of arts tax revenue collected by the city. While much of that windfall went directly to our partners, placed a portion of those funds in reserve for the unexpected – such as we are now facing. 

We know the toll this pandemic is taking on our creative community and arts organizations. That is why we’ve moved quickly to provide emergency relief – collecting data, mobilizing resources and collaborating with other funding partners on behalf of artists and our arts nonprofits.  

We must also be strategic about what will follow, planning for the future and how to fortify and rebuild the region’s arts ecosystem. I look forward to continuing our work together on behalf of the artists and arts community that will help all of us build and heal our City.

-Madison Cario, Executive Director, Regional Arts & Culture Council

Get ready for second chance to apply for SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program

Paycheck Protection Program is reopening – your guide to get ready

In late March, Congress approved the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, including $350 billion for a new Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which provides fully forgivable loans to small businesses and nonprofit organizations, self-employed individuals, and gig economy/contract workers to help pay employees during the economic downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The PPP ran out of funding on April 16 before many small businesses were able to submit their applications. Congress has recently replenished the program with an additional $310 billion, and lenders are beginning to accept applications again.

This guide is intended to help artists, creative workers and nonprofit organizations prepare their applications and gather all of the necessary information.

Who is eligible

  • Small businesses with fewer than 500 employees, including 501(c)(3) organizations.
  • Sole proprietors, independent contractors, gig economy workers, and self-employed individuals who can demonstrate that they received income in 2019.
  • Borrowers will need to demonstrate that their business was operational as of February 15, 2020.

Loan amounts

Small businesses and self-employed individuals can borrow 250% of their average monthly payroll expenses, up to a total of $10 million. This amount is intended to cover 8 weeks of payroll expenses, with some for making payments towards other debt obligations (rent, utilities, etc).

Loan forgiveness

Loans will be fully forgiven (you do not have to repay it) after 8 weeks if borrowers can demonstrate:

  • At least 75% of their loan was spent on payroll costs, including employee salaries and wages (up to an annual rate of pay of $100,000), paid sick or medical leave, and group health insurance premiums.
  • For self-employed individuals, loans can cover wages, commissions, cash tips and other income that is reported in IRS Form 1040 Schedule C or 1099-MISC.
  • Up to 25% of the loan principle may also be forgiven if spent on mortgages, rent payments, leases, and utility service agreements.

If you would like to use the Paycheck Protection Program for other business-related expenses, you can, but that portion of the loan will not be forgiven. Loan payments are deferred for 6 months at an interest rate of 1%.

If the borrower’s average number of FTE employees decreases during the period of the loan, the forgiveness amount will be reduced. If you have already laid off some employees, you can still be forgiven for the full amount of your payroll cost if you rehire your employees by June 30, 2020. The forgiveness amount will also be reduced if employee salaries are cut by more than 25%.

How to apply

Applicants must work with lending institutions that have been pre-approved by the Small Business Administration. There are hundreds of eligible lenders in Oregon, including most major banks in the area. Contact your current bank as soon as possible to see if they can assist you with a PPP application, or find a participating lender at https://www.sba.gov/paycheckprotection/find. A list of Portland-area lenders is also available at https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/articles/Lender_Listing_4.17.pdf.

You can call your local Small Business Development Center or Women’s Business Center for assistance; see “other resources” below.

Information you will need in order to apply

Your lender will ask you to help fill out a Borrower Application Form (fillable PDF). In order to complete this form, your will need:

  • Contact information for your business
  • Business Tax ID number or Social Security Number
  • Detailed payroll information to help the lender determine your average monthly payroll costs

Organizations should gather the following documents for your lender to expedite the process:

  • Bank account number and routing number
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • Bylaws
  • Board-approved budget and financial statements
  • Payroll tax filings
  • Payroll processor records
  • Most recent IRS Form 990

Individuals (sole proprietorships, independent contractors and gig workers) should gather:

  • Bank account number and routing number
  • IRS Form 1040 Schedule C for 2019. Even if you haven’t filed a 2019 tax return, you will still be required to fill out this form.
  • IRS Form 1099-MISC, if appropriate (for freelance workers)
  • Payroll tax filings for 2019
  • Bookkeeping records, including bank statements and invoices, that provide detail on wages, commissions, cash tips and other income

Individuals will also need to authorize the Small Business Administration to run a criminal background report.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can self-employed individuals and contract workers receive unemployment benefits and a PPP loan at the same time? You should consider the payout of each program to determine which is the best fit for you.

What is the deadline? Applications and required documentation must be submitted by June 30, 2020. Given the competitive nature of this program, we recommend working with your lender to submit your application as soon as possible.

How long does it take to complete an application? The application itself is relatively short, but you may experience delays in getting your lender to complete it and submit it. The sooner you get started, the better off you will be.

How long to I have to spend the funds? Once the loan is funded, you have 8 weeks to spend the money on qualified expenses.

What happens after 8 weeks? You will need to submit a request to the lender who is servicing the loan. The request will include all documents supporting the spending of the funds, number of full-time employees, and compensation levels. The lender will have 60 days to decide on forgiveness.

How much of the loan can be used for rent, mortgage, and utilities? PPP funding can cover these expenses, but remember: if you want to have your loan forgiven, you must spend at least 75% of the loan funds on payroll costs. The remaining 25% can be spent on rent, mortgage, interest and utilities and still be forgiven. Individuals with a home office can claim expenses for the percentage of your home that’s used as a home office.

What happens if I don’t use all the funds on qualified costs? You may be required to pay back all or a portion of the loan, including 1% interest. Interest will accrue on the PPP from day one, even though you will not have to make any payments for six months following the date of disbursement. The interest will only be forgiven on the amount related to the principal forgiven.

If I applied for, or received an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) related to COVID19 before the Paycheck Protection Program became available, will I be able to refinance into a PPP loan? If you received an EIDL loan related to COVID-19 between January 31, 2020 and the date at which the PPP becomes available, you would be able to refinance the EIDL into the PPP for loan forgiveness purposes. However, you may not take out an EIDL and a PPP for the same purposes. Remaining portions of the EIDL, for purposes other than those laid out in loan forgiveness terms for a PPP loan, would remain a loan. If you took advantage of an emergency EIDL grant award of up to $10,000, that amount would be subtracted from the amount forgiven under PPP.

Other helpful resources

Grantmakers announce new relief fund for Oregon arts organizations

Hard-hit nonprofits benefit from program’s streamlined process, pooled funds

Theaters are dark, museums shuttered, contracts canceled, revenue lost. In a matter of weeks COVID-19 destabilized the nonprofit arts world. The damage is difficult to quantify and, for some organizations, may be irreversible.  Artists themselves were among the first to rally, organizing efforts to provide immediate emergency support. Now, a collaborative group of funders is ramping up an ambitious effort to help organizations and artists in need. To date, $1.3 million in pooled resources is dedicated to the Oregon Arts and Culture Recovery Program.

Established in partnership with state and local arts funders, and administered by the Oregon Community Foundation, funds will support nonprofit arts and culture organizations throughout Oregon with grants for emergency operating support and recovery activities. Pooled funds will give preference to arts nonprofits led by and serving communities disproportionately impacted by the social and economic consequences of the outbreak of COVID-19.

“We know that this unprecedented crisis requires unprecedented collaboration,” stated Madison Cario, Executive Director of the Regional Arts & Culture Council. “Together public and private funders – as well as individual donors – can make the greatest impact by pooling our resources, prioritizing those with few reserves, and streamlining our application processes.”

Local economic impact
Comprised of thousands of individual contractors and nonprofit organizations, the state’s creative sector is a driver of local economies and employment. In the Portland metro area alone, Data Arts reports more than 9,150 jobs in the arts sector in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties. Regulations limiting group sizes and public gatherings issued in early March by the City of Portland and the Governor had an immediate and devastating effect on artists, performing arts organizations, staff, and contract workers throughout the state. The economic impact quickly spread through the entire arts community as COVID-19 restrictions led to massive layoffs from closed venues and canceled events, exhibitions, and performances.

In a recent statewide survey conducted by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, 260-plus arts organizations in Oregon estimated losses of more than $46 million in March, April and May 2020 alone. Revenue from earned income is by far the largest source of funding arts organizations (nationally estimated to be about 60% of all sources). Even small changes in revenue can mean trouble for most arts organizations who operate with small reserves.

The emergency funds will be awarded to meet immediate operating needs and losses related to the cancellation of performances, gallery exhibitions, fundraising events and more. Additionally, funders will look for proposals with strategies that allow art organizations and cultural institutions to innovate and adapt to the challenges of COVID-19. Organizations serving as a hub or facilitator for the arts and artists in their local, state and regional communities will also be prioritized for funding.

Collaborating to serve the common good
Partners contributing toward the pooled fund currently include: The Collins Foundation, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, Regional Arts & Culture Council, and Schnitzer CARE Foundation/Jordan Schnitzer. Other partners aligning and supporting the effort include: Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon Arts Commission, Reser Family Foundation, and the M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust.

Further details
In order to reach as many communities and organizations as possible, the first wave of collective awards will give priority to requests under $5,000. Proposals requesting between $5,000 and $25,000 will be highly competitive, with rare awards over $25,000.  Funding priorities are limited to the pooled funds. Additional funding partners may make awards from this group of applications using their own individual priorities.

Find the streamlined application on the Oregon Community Foundation’s website: https://oregoncf.org/grants-and-scholarships/grants/oregon-arts-and-culture-recovery-program.

New RACC Emergency Fund for Artists and Creative Workers

Initial fund provides more than $120,000 in small grants for individuals

Thousands of individual artists and creative workers have already lost contracts, gigs, and teaching work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Performance cancellations, closures and physical distancing requirements are having a devastating impact on greater Portland’s creative community. In Multnomah County alone, more than 900 individual artists responding to a recent survey estimated over $9 million in lost income March through May, 2020.

In the face of this unprecedented crisis, the Regional Arts & Culture Council April 2, 2020 announced a new fund to provide some financial relief to Portland area creative professionals and the region’s cultural workforce. RACC’s Emergency Fund for Artists and Creative Workers, offers financial assistance to cover lost income to artists experiencing economic hardship.

New donations to the fund will be distributed directly to individual artists and creative workers in need along with more than $120,000 in unrestricted funding RACC has redirected from other programs. Applications to the emergency fund open on April 2, 2020 and should be submitted online no later than 5 p.m. Monday, April 13, 2020 for initial consideration. As new funds are donated and identified, RACC will award additional funds.

“Our artist community has lost much but it remains rich with diversity of skills, resources and creativity,” said RACC Executive Director, Madison Cario.  “That’s why it’s essential that in the short-term RACC look at all available resources, ramp up partnerships, and raise money. We will be looking to the arts community to innovate with us to create longer-term solutions and creative ideas that will support our resilience and recovery.”

RACC’s Emergency Fund for Artists and Creative Workers supports individuals who have experienced a financial loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund is open to artists at all levels of their careers, in a broad variety of disciplines. Applicants will be asked to share evidence of their artistic practice, household income, and financial loss in the application. RACC will make awards up to $500 in order to support as many individual artists as possible, prioritizing those without access to other COVID-19 relief funds.

“It’s not just individual artists who are losing out as a result of the pandemic; the whole region risks losing much of our artistic wealth and with it the contributions of individual creators who inspire and uplift us, and who can help our spirits heal from this disaster,” stated Linda McGeady, RACC Board Chair.  “RACC is being nimble and creative, and staff is working hard to get dollars out the door as quickly as possible.”

The picture of the impact of COVID-19 on the arts community came into sharp focus last week as RACC released results from a statewide survey. The survey collected estimated losses from individuals and arts organizations during March, April and May. Statewide, losses were reported at more than $56 million for artists and arts organizations in just a three-month period. The survey did not include a response from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, which has subsequently announced it will delay reopening of its 2020 season until September and laid off a majority of staff.

Many artists responding to the survey offered examples of how restrictions on group sizes, public gatherings and requirements for physical distancing during this health crisis are affecting their income and their community.

  • A self- employed visual artist explained, “My galleries are ALL closed – including a major solo show – and my classes are ALL cancelled. I have stopped submitting to future shows. My solo and two-person shows this summer are in limbo. My income is sporadic by nature so I can’t tell you what would have sold had the galleries remained open.”
  • A Saturday Market vendor shared how they rely on tourism to support and sustain their revenue, which currently is reduced to nothing.
  • A local animator, currently employed on a stop-motion feature film being made in Portland, described how their team typically works as a large crew, in close proximity. Initially shut down for two weeks, the film – and team – is on hiatus indefinitely.
  • A musician who makes their income by composing and producing music described how they also own and operate a recording studio, which is now shuttered. “My income not only helps provide food for my family, but also helps keep the lights on at the studio.”

More emergency relief measures for artists and arts organizations are in the works. RACC is currently reviewing all projects and programs as potential relief funds, as well as any new sources anticipated in next fiscal year, starting July 1, 2020. Information about new opportunities will be shared with the community as they are confirmed by RACC staff, board members and funding partners in the coming weeks.

More information about RACC’s Emergency Fund for Individual Artists can be found here: https://artsimpactfund.racc.org/covid-19/

Para solicitar asistencia para la aplicación en un idioma que no sea inglés, envíe un correo electrónico a: grants@racc.org


Oregon Artists and Arts Organizations report $56M lost revenue

Survey results forecast 3-month financial impact of COVID-19 on arts & culture community

Portland, Ore – Across the world, life has changed dramatically as the impact of the coronavirus pandemic continues to unfold. The picture of that impact on the arts community came into sharp focus this week as the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) tallied results from a statewide survey conducted last week.

The Oregon COVID-19 Impact Survey is an effort to measure estimated losses during March, April and May 2020 on individuals working in the arts as well as arts organizations. Reported losses include revenues from lost contracts, shows and teaching work that have all been cancelled in order to comply with restrictions on group sizes, gatherings and requirements for social distancing during this health crisis.

RACC, the nonprofit arts council for the tri-county area including Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties, collected more than 1,200 responses from individuals and more than 260 arts organizations across 25 counties. Multnomah County-based artists provided the bulk of the data with more than 900 respondents reporting a total of $46 million in losses for the single quarter. Initial analysis of the data show impacts increasing month over month. RACC intends to share the data to support efforts at the state, federal and local levels and to lead advocacy efforts and guide resource collection and distribution for individuals and organizations.

“Thank you to the people who took the time to respond to the survey,” said Madison Cario, RACC Executive Director. “They have collectively confirmed that many individuals and organizations working in arts and culture lack sufficient infrastructure and resources to sustain continued financial and social disruptions.” The information is well-documented in the field, Cario added, “The survey data empowers advocates and funders with specific financial details of what is currently being lost as we work towards solutions.”

As part of the response to COVID-19, RACC is relaxing funding restrictions in order to get dollars out the door faster, and partnering with other grant makers to deepen impact. “We are grateful to have the Oregon Community Foundation and the Miller Foundation at the table with the shared goal of relief for the arts community, said Cario.  “This relief is intended as breathing room so we can be creative about possible pivots and planning adaptations for the long haul.”

RACC updates – staff working remotely and resources

As the country and world respond to coronavirus and the COVID-19 situation, RACC would like to share some information and resources.

First and foremost, RACC is invested in the health and well-being of the artists, arts organizations, and our communities. Please follow all directions and recommendations from your local and state authorities as well as entities such as the CDC and WHO.

Additionally, for information specific to artists and arts organizations, please refer to ArtsReady, the Performing Arts Readiness project, and the National Coalition for Arts Preparedness and Emergency Response. These resources are available with best-practices, updated information, and resources specifically for the arts community. Locally, please also see this new opportunity for emergency funding for artists.

For those of you who are currently operating with grants funded by RACC, we are responsive to individual concerns and necessary changes to the originally-proposed activities. Should you need to modify your grant, please contact your program officer to discuss options. More information for grantees can be found here. Starting today, March 13, RACC staff will be working remotely.

We also want to make you aware of campaigns to include artists and the nonprofit arts community in any federal relief funds that are made available. There are currently campaigns being conducted through both The Performing Arts Alliance as well as the American Alliance for Museums. We recommend reading about these campaigns and, should you feel strongly about the causes, informing your legislators. In addition, RACC will also be working closely with local and regional governments, service organizations, and individuals, as well as local funders and businesses, to develop an emergency fund to support artists and arts organizations through these difficult times.

We recognize the impact that this virus and the necessary reactions may cause. Artists, technicians, administrators, and everyone involved in the arts community are facing an unprecedented situation as events get canceled or postponed. Ultimately, we believe that the arts are about bringing people together. We share emotions and ideas. These connections strengthen us. Looking forward, as we work our way collectively through this pandemic, we are hopeful that the artists, arts organizations, and everyone who make up our arts community will come together and be stronger for it.

Here are some additional ways we can help our community:

Check on older neighbors, colleagues and friends with a call or text – older people seem to be particularly vulnerable to contracting coronavirus, according to health officials – but also are likely staying home and not allowing visitors as a precaution.

Safely drop off food – particularly to anyone who is under quarantine or isolating from others due to their risk factors. Let folks know you’ll be dropping something by – and leave it at the door or on the porch.

Donate money – lots of organizations including food banks, social services groups and others offer direct help to people in need and may be one of the first places people turn if they are hurt economically by the virus.

Fight discrimination and stigma – fear and anxiety can lead to social stigma when people associate an infectious disease, such as COVID-19, with a population or nationality, even though not everyone in that population or from that region is specifically at risk for the disease (for example, Chinese-Americans and other Asian-Americans living in the United States). Stigma hurts everyone by creating more fear or anger but we can fight this type of discrimination and help others by providing social support.

News For RACC Grantees

We’ve heard from many of you with concerns about the COVID-19 virus. We want to assure you that RACC is committed to supporting the artists and organizations we work with in this rapidly evolving situation. Our staff is working remotely and you can reach your grants officers by email – see contact information below.

If your planned project or performance needs to be cancelled, rescheduled, or modified as the result of the virus, RACC can be flexible. We’re happy to discuss modifications to your proposed activity as needed—remember that there is no set deadline for completion of your project.

Reminder, there may be some delays in getting grant payments sent out. Direct Deposit (ACH) payments will continue to be sent weekly, but paper checks may take longer to generate. If you need a grant payment quickly, we recommend you email us a completed version of the ACH form to your grants officer.

Helen Daltoso hdaltoso@racc.org

Ingrid Carlson icarlson@racc.org

Executive Director Madison Cario on change and growth at RACC

Madison Cario (second from left), with Jennifer Arnold, Charlene Zidell, and Cheryl Green.

Feb. 18, 2020 update:

In the three weeks since announcing our reorganization, we have had a wide range of conversations about the changes and I appreciate the opportunity to reflect on the feedback received to date – please, keep it coming! Reach out anytime at ed@racc.org.

Many stakeholders were consulted over the past year as we considered potential options for RACC. They candidly shared their thoughts with me, with staff, and with board members. Their input helped shape decisions and came from many perspectives, including:

  • Leaders of arts organizations in Portland – including many of the small and mid-sized organizations benefiting from changes to RACC’s grantmaking criteria;
  • The Portland City Council and other city officials that raised concerns following the release of the Auditor’s 2018 report and initial steps to implement the auditor’s recommendations;
  • Funders and leaders of Portland’s philanthropic community;
  • Leaders of community-based organizations;
  • Peers from other cities with Arts and Culture Council’s – and data recently released by American’s for the Arts on funding for arts organizations around the country.

A number of people have expressed concerns about the RACC staffers laid off as a result of the restructure. I appreciate that concern and I share it. While we can never give details about any individual, I do want you to know that affected staff have been invited to apply – and given preference in the hiring process – for new positions that better support the organization’s new direction and vision. More updates on RACC staffing in the weeks to come.

Posted Jan. 29, 2020

When I first arrived at RACC last January 2019, I was inspired by the people, the diversity of the community, the field and the art forms. A year later, I am still inspired. For a full year I’ve asked people – if you could list the top 3 things that you’d like to have an arts council do to support you and your work, what would that be? Over and over again I was told we need you (RACC) to convene, connect, and bring us together we need you to advocate on our behalf, and we need you to get us more resources! With this in mind we began to imagine how RACC could best fill these gaps.

My charge, as given to me by the board since before my first day in Portland, has been to evaluate RACC’s challenges and opportunities. To develop a strategic plan for RACC to fulfill its responsibility and realize its full potential to advance a thriving, equitable and inclusive arts and culture environment throughout greater Portland.

For the past year I have been listening to artists, nonprofit leaders, and many other folks with big ideas. In meeting rooms from Oregon City to Hillsboro, at gatherings hosted by RACC and at arts events across the region, through “office hours” at local cafes and happy hours at neighborhood hotspots, I’ve been amazed and inspired by the abundance of passion and creativity here. I have heard a strong desire for us all to collectively “do more”.

I also heard, quite frankly, common themes of dissatisfaction with how RACC has been functioning. There are many myths and misunderstandings about what RACC is, what we do, how we do it (spoiler alert: this is the magic) and for whom we are doing things. This confusion contributes to unintended consequences that play out in missed opportunities, inequitable practices, a sense of mistrust and squabbling over resources – both internally and externally. Without clarity and alignment, our brand and our impact are diminished, negatively affecting our staff, our board, our partners and the communities we serve.

A detailed analysis of RACC’s finances this winter, coupled with conversations with staff and board, revealed that we have been supporting programs and projects that are unsustainable. A 2018 audit by the City of Portland, by far our largest funder, revealed a lack of alignment in our goals, and led some to voice uncertainties about the value we provide to the community. The audit paved the way for new levels of city oversight, and as RACC begins to negotiate a new three-year city contract, we have new expectations for stronger accountability, clearer outcomes and greater efficiency going forward. Surely ALL of our community partners want these things, too.

In response to all of these forces, but also looking ahead to achieving our greatest potential, we are charting a new course for RACC and I’m asking for your partnership moving forward.

As you’ll see in our press release, RACC is letting go of some programs and reinvesting resources in other initiatives with stronger impacts. We will continue all of our current grantmaking programs and public art projects, while sunsetting our workplace giving program and eliminating our community engagement program as a separate function of RACC – focusing on collective impact partnerships rather than having a stand-alone program in order to better support communities that have historically been marginalized and underserved.

One change that I am particularly excited about involves transferring all management of The Right Brain Initiative over to Young Audiences of Oregon and SW Washington, RACC’s implementation partner since the Initiative began. This expansion of Young Audiences’ role plays to the strengths of each organization, sustains our long-standing partnership, and ensures continuity for the students, teachers, artists, and schools that we serve.

Combined, these changes will help RACC simplify its operations and focus on what RACC is uniquely positioned to do – be a better advocate and bring more resources into greater Portland’s arts and culture ecosystem. Working on fewer projects means that our staff and board will be better able to support the communities we serve, with a stronger focus on access, customer service, equity, and collective impact.

These changes are not made lightly. We have had to let talented people go – and I am grateful to them for bringing their extraordinary passion and skills to work every day. I am also grateful to our staff, community and board members – past and present – who have all been truthful thought partners and advisors in making some very difficult decisions.

I welcome your feedback and questions as we move in this new direction together. Please reach out anytime at ed@racc.org.