Call for Artists: Midland Library | Exterior Canopy Artwork Design

Multnomah County Library Midland Canopy Artist Rendering

Approved by Multnomah County voters in 2020, the Library Capital Bond Project will include expansions and renovations to seven branch libraries; building an East County flagship library; adding gigabit speed internet to all libraries; and creating a materials handling and distribution center, also known as the Library Operations Center. The renovation and expansion of Midland Library is part of the Chapter One Projects phase of the bond project. The exterior canopy artwork at the library is one of three public art elements intended for the new site.

In partnership with Multnomah County Library (MCL), the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) invites artists/artist teams living in Oregon and Washington to submit qualifications for a site-specific exterior artwork at the soon-to-be renovated library.

One artist/artist team will be selected to create a design for a 2-dimensional exterior artwork that will be installed on the underside of the canopy along the south side of the building, visible to vehicular traffic on SE 122nd Ave as well as pedestrians entering the library from the street and parking lot. The budget available for the commission comes from Multnomah County’s Percent for Art Program and is $40,000.

Submissions are due by Wednesday, August 31, 2022 at 5 pm PDT. 

Further information about the project can be downloaded here.

Art Opportunity

We are seeking an artist or artist team to create a site-specific artwork design that will be digitally printed on high pressure laminate (HPL) with production processes specifically selected for a durable exterior installation that can withstand the elements, is graffiti resistant and easily cleanable. The artist/artist team is expected to provide a high definition digital file for printing as a final deliverable for construction and will also work with the design team to select a complementary solid color for adjacent panels. The artist/artist team is not required to have experience in digitizing their work, RACC can support with meeting this technical criteria, as needed. The architectural team will coordinate installation of the HPL directly with the contractor, and the artist/artist team will be invited to review samples, installation drawings and the final install. The HPL will be installed on the underside of the entry canopy which is located on the south side of the building, framing the new Midland Library entrance and public plaza. Pedestrian traffic from the parking lot, street and other neighborhood amenities, including the nearby Midland City Park, will benefit from close interaction with the artwork. We expect the design to translate to scale so that the artwork can also be enjoyed from a distance as people travel by car and public transportation along SE 122nd Ave.

The canopy extends along the width of the south side of the building, spanning approximately 224ft. The horizontal and vertical faces along that stretch range from approximately 5ft to 18ft, giving a total square footage of 3500sq.ft.

The canopy artwork will be highly visible as people arrive at the library, creating a covered outdoor porch that draws people in from the street or parking lot. This front porch brings the experience of the library outdoors, creating a sense of arrival well before walking through the building doors. This space is intended to be flexible, it includes seating and tables for gathering, and may also host resources such as a community bulletin board, shelving that provides space for free used books, activity kits, or a public zine library.  

Information Sessions

  • Wednesday August 17, 2022 at 12.30pm on Instagram Live with Mario and Sophie from RACC. Follow @regionalarts on Instagram to stay informed of this and other upcoming opportunities. Watch the previously recorded IG Live session here.
  • Wednesday August 24, 2022 at 5pm on Zoom with Mario and Sophie from RACC and Sophia from Colloqate Design, the design team leading the Midland Library renovation project. Watch the previously recorded Zoom Info Session here.

We strongly encourage you to attend an info session, especially if you are a first-time applicant. The project team will share information about this opportunity and go over the steps of how to submit application materials.

If you have questions about the Zoom info session or need any accommodations in order to attend, please email project manager, Sophie, at shook@racc.org.

Artwork Goals and Qualities

The goal is for the artwork to represent the myriad of communities that live, work and play in the Mill Park neighborhood. The community wishes to see themselves reflected in the new artwork through artistic expression and creative storytelling. There is a deep desire for the artwork to instill a sense of place and belonging, creating a warm, inviting and welcoming environment where imagination, interests and engagement can be inspired.

In discussion with the community and MCL team members, we are looking for artwork that has bold and vibrant colors. Other ideas that have come up include geometric shapes and pattern-like design, perhaps reflecting textiles, symbols and color palettes from various cultures weaving together; a representation of numerous tree canopies from different places; or a quilt-like design created through an array of community stories. Further collective visioning will likely stimulate even more creative suggestions.

Examples of communities that frequent Midland Library include Black/African American, Indigenous Peoples, Somali and other East African immigrants, Chinese (Cantonese and Mandarin speakers), Vietnamese, Slavic and Eastern European, Malay, Bhutanese, Iraqi, Tongan, Latinx (not just Spanish language speakers), youth and elders, LGBTQIA2S+, people living with disabilities and neurodivergence, houseless. More information from the community engagement process so far, including demographics, will be shared with the artist/artist team to ensure authentic understanding and representation.


The selected artist/artist team will receive $40,000 for this opportunity to create an artwork design that will be delivered as a digital file. This fee is inclusive of the following expenses; artist fees, design development, community engagement and communication/coordination with the design team, construction team and third-party contractors who will help to fabricate and install the artwork. There is a separate allocation, up to $15,000, for the digitization of the artwork, which will be paid directly to the artist or vendor who completes this scope of work. Costs for materials, fabrication and installation will be covered separately by the Library Bond Project construction budget.

Community Engagement and Participatory Design

The overall concept for the design of Midland Library is based on the idea of weaving. The project aims to weave together a diverse range of stories and lived experiences in a shared communal space. Humans’ relationship to nature, especially in the Pacific Northwest, is also central to this concept. On the interior of the building, this shows up as a focus on water as a connector to all life and environments. As part of the community engagement process, library patrons were asked to participate in the selection of the color palette for the interior design. Option B, the concept inspired by the movement of water, creating a calm space with gentle colors and soft, natural patterns, won the public vote.

We are seeking an artist/artist team who welcomes and reflects the diverse communities that are served by Midland Library within their process and work, while also centering these design principles.

Prior to finalizing a design, the selected artist/artist team will plan and facilitate at least two engagement sessions to meet with community stakeholders for visioning and public review of their design. Midland Library will be available as a venue to host events. Interpretation, translation and other access services can be made available, if needed, and coordinated through MCL and/or RACC, if enough time is given in advance. Working or in-progress design materials and narratives may be requested for wider community communication updates and will be coordinated in conjunction with the project team.

About the Library Capital Bond Project

As part of the Library Capital Bond Project, MCL is expanding the Midland Library to provide additional space and an enjoyable experience for all through renovations to the existing building as well as more robust services. Located on the southwest corner of SE 122nd Ave and SE Morrison St in the Mill Park neighborhood of east Portland, Oregon, the existing 24,000 square foot library will be updated and expanded by 6,000 square feet. The revised site will include a new entryway which creates the opportunity for an exterior art canopy.

The renovation and expansion of Midland Library is part of the Chapter One Projects phase of the Library Capital Bond Project and will be one of the first to reopen, currently scheduled for late spring/early summer 2024.


This opportunity is open to artists/artist teams based in Oregon and Washington. If applying as a team, at least one member must meet the residence eligibility requirement. Applicants who have an interest in and/or experience with community engagement processes, including social practice, which inform their approach and art practice are strongly encouraged to apply. Strong consideration will be given to artists who have experience working with youth and residents from historically underrepresented communities to develop their artwork including communities of color as well as immigrant and refugee communities.

MCL and RACC are committed to reflecting the cultural richness of our city by promoting opportunities for emerging and historically underrepresented artists. Artists/artist teams representing communities of color are encouraged to apply. RACC is committed to engaging new communities of artists and expanding the range of artistic and cultural expression represented in the City’s public art collection.

The selected artist/artist team must be able to create, complete and deliver their digital artwork design by February 2023.

Selection Process

At this time, the selection process will be entirely virtual. A selection panel composed of Multnomah County Library representatives, local artists, community members and East County residents, Library Bond Project team members and Midland Library design team members will review artists’ submissions and choose more than one finalist to invite to  interview for the commission.

Overall, the purpose of the interview is to allow the artist(s) to understand the context and intention the selection panel has for the final art piece and for the selection panel to meet the artist(s). After the interviews are conducted, the selection panel will choose an artist/artist team. The selected artist(s) will then be issued a Design Phase contract during which they will create a community engagement plan, meet with the community and create a proposal that includes a design of the canopy art, a budget and a timeline.

Criteria for selecting finalists for interviews are (1) quality of past work as demonstrated in submitted images; (2) ability  and interest in creating site-specific artwork; (3) how past artwork has fit one or more of the general goals described above, specifically community engagement practices, through process and/or in the final design; (4) interest in and/or ability to create connection to Midland Library and the Mill Park neighborhood.

Please note the selection panel reserves the right to select an artist who does not directly apply to this call, if appropriate.

How to Apply

All application materials must be submitted through the RACC Opportunity Portal, an online application system. Applicants will need to create an account, or log into their existing account at https://racc.org/apply. If you are applying as a team, please assign one person to apply and be the point of contact on behalf of the team.

Application Materials

  • Artist bio/resume. Upload a PDF, no more than two pages, that outlines your creative activities and artistic accomplishments. If applying as a team, submit one PDF that includes a bio/resume for all team members.
  • Statement of interest. In 3000 characters or less, provide a statement that outlines the following:
    • Your interest in this project
      • Why this project, its focus and themes are of interest to you
      • Why you’d be a good match for the project
      • How do you foresee your work connecting to the mission and values of the project
    • Describe your capacity and/or experience to complete the scope of work
    • Explain why you value community engagement in your artistic process and share past examples of successfully incorporating this into a project
    • If you are applying as a team, describe your individual roles on the team and how you anticipate working together
  • Up to 8 past work samples. These work samples are the primary way the quality of your work will be judged. Provide up to two images, no larger than 5MB each, for each work sample. For each image, please provide title, artist name, media, dimensions, year completed, budget and location. Conceptual information is desirable but not required.

Once you have started your application, you can save after each step and sign out. Your application will be saved as a draft that you can continue to work on, as needed. Please note that after you click “Submit,” your application is final and no further edits can be made.

If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us throughout the process.

Submissions due: Wednesday, August 31, 2022 at 5:00pm PDT


We are here to support and assist you! If you have questions about the overall opportunity or the RACC application portal,  would like to set up a time for a phone/video call or have any other needs for assistance please email project manager, Sophie, at shook@racc.org.

If you would like to be considered for this opportunity and don’t have a computer or online access, please feel free to contact RACC for support. Also, if you prefer these materials in another language you can contact the RACC project team  for translation services.

We strongly encourage you to submit your application with enough time for any questions to be answered prior to when submissions are due as enquiries received towards the end of that period may not be responded to. We appreciate your understanding and consideration of our capacity.

Interpretation services are available, please email info@racc.org

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Important Dates

August 5, 2022 – RFQ launch

August 17, 2022 at 12:30pm – Instagram Live Info Session. Follow @regionalarts on Instagram to stay informed.

August 24, 2022 at 5:00pm – Zoom Info Session. RSVP here.

August 31, 2022 – Applications due

(Early/mid) September 2022 – Panel review and artist selection including interviews

(Late) September 2022-January 2023 – Community Engagement and Participatory Design

February 2023 – Design submitted to contractor for procurement

March-October 2023 – Intermittent construction administration, installation will happen towards the end of this period

Congressional Briefing: The Value of Equitable Arts Education

On December 9, 2021 the American Academy of Arts and Sciences’ Commission on the Arts, stated their case in a Congressional Briefing to two architects of the Arts Education for All Act (HR5581), Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR1) and Chellie Pingree (D-ME1). During the briefing members of the Commission, including Co-Chairs John Lithgow (Actor), Deborah Rutter (The Kennedy Center), and Natasha Trethewey (Professor and Poet) presented their findings from their report released this past summer, Art for Life’s Sake 

The Regional Arts & Culture Council has endorsed the Arts Education for All Act, along with hundreds of other arts organizations across the country and 31 current House Members including, Oregon’s Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR3). Click here if you would like to join us in support of HR5581. 

During the hearing, an arts education partner Paul S Sznewajs, Executive Director from Ingenuity-Chicago, spoke to the importance of data to address inequity in arts education. Locally in Multnomah County, we have partnered with Portland Public School and Parkrose to gather real-time data on the state of the arts in our schools through our online platform artlook® with our partners,  the Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child program and Ingenuity-Chicago. The data available to the districts can demonstrate the gaps in arts education in our schools, as well as highlight our successes.  

These data points better inform and guide districts to address shortcomings and establish strong community relationships with arts organizations across the city. We know  arts not only provide a skill set that is critical in our creative economy but the arts help heal, connect, build relationships and can help move us forward out of trauma. We know having a robust well-rounded education, which includes the arts, keep kids in school, exposes us to diverse cultures, teaches empathy and compassion, expands our knowledge, encourages us to think critically, participate in civic engagement, and most importantly, bring us joy. Chanda Evans, who leads the Arts Education Program, at RACC was able to ask the question— “How can parents become more involved?” Congresswoman Bonamici replied “…Telling stories. It really makes a difference. When we talk about policy in the abstract, it is not nearly as compelling as telling a story about a child who benefited from arts education…” Our recent interview with the Congresswoman on November 5, 2021 also highlights the need for telling our personal stories on the impact of an art education in our lives.  

This act of storytelling resonates with RACC and we ask you to share your arts education stories with us. We all have that one teacher who made all the difference. They may have been a librarian who said to you, “Wow, you read a lot, have you thought about writing?” The science instructor, who noticed you had a knack for constructing robotics, suggested you might enjoy stop animation. Maybe you seemed bored and did not participate in class and your teacher said, “Hey, why don’t you think about band?” Arts education that is infused in our lives through a well-rounded education connects us to the world around us, enables us to thrive and survive and makes us better humans.  

What can you do? Endorse the act as an individual or organization. Share your stories with RACC.  Don’t forget to pay your Arts Education and Income Tax Fund (AEAF) of $35 by April 15th if you are a resident of Portland, which puts k-5 arts educators in the classrooms of 6 districts. They include Centennial, David Douglas, Park Rose, Portland Public, Reynolds, and Riverdale School Districts. We thank you.  



#ArtsEducationForAll #ArtsCreateHope #ArtsEducation #ArtsAdvocacy #ArtEd #ArtEquity #region411 #ArtSavesLives #artsforall 

NOW OPEN: RACC 2022 Planning Survey


Back in 2020, RACC asked our community to help us set the course for our work. With your feedback, we reshaped our priorities and pivoted many of our service models to best meet the needs of our creative communities.

Now, it’s 2022 and we need your voice to help imagine what’s next! Our 2022 Planning Survey seeks to understand what support is needed so RACC can continue to best engage with and serve our region. We ask for your input on professional development needs, the role RACC plays in our community, how you engage with RACC, the impact of external factors on your role in the arts & culture community, and much more. Your responses provide critical feedback so we can make informed decisions.  

Add your voice and complete the survey here.

We are giving away “RACC Packs” to 6 lucky survey respondents! The “RACC Pack” is a collection of RACC-themed items and a gift card to a local art/culture shop or organization. Follow instructions at the completion of the survey to enter.

The RACC 2022 Planning Survey will be open February 15 – March 1.

If you have any questions about this survey or process, please contact RACC team member Mario Mesquita, Manager of Advocacy and Engagement, at mmesquita@racc.org. If you’d like the survey translated to a different language, please contact Mario and specify what language is needed.




RACC’s 2022 Legislative Priorities

Regional Arts & Culture Council 2022 Legislative Priorities

2022 State Legislative Priorities – Adapted from the Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon

The Regional Arts & Culture Council’s (RACC) mission is to enrich our communities through arts and Culture. We envision a thriving region, powered by creativity, with arts and culture in every neighborhood. To do this, RACC promotes equity, diversity, inclusion and access and uses a racial equity lens to advocate for the equitable distribution of resources and the creation of public policies that will provide support for the arts ecosystem now and into the future.

This year, we are reminded that the history that we are looking to make is not for us, it is for the leaders who come after us. How we work together during our time here—both with our Team and our community, will determine how our region responds to crises in the future.

The opportunity to continue supporting our creatives and artists is paramount. RACC is leaning deeply into this space to ensure that they are supported and held during this unprecedented moment in history. We are here to ensure that they are here today, and tomorrow, enriching their communities through art and culture.

2021 was  a crucial legislative year for Oregon’s vital cultural sector. We urged our state policymakers to prioritize arts, culture, heritage, and the humanities in order to encourage creativity, contribute to Oregon’s economic recovery and rebuild community. As we look to this season’s short legislative session, we continue to urge policymakers to Invest in Oregon’s creative and cultural life, supporting Oregonians’ values, promoting whole person health, strengthening communities, and attracting and retaining workers in an innovative and yet thriving economy.

This is an historic year for arts and cultural funding across the nation. We are proud that Oregon is joining in these efforts to provide advocacy and relief, and to elevate our creative economy. Here are legislative initiatives that RACC supports and is keeping on eye on during this season. Let’s shape an arts and culture environment that serves for the common good of all.

– Carol Tatch (Chief of External Operations) and Della Rae (Chief of Internal Operations)


The Arts Education for All Act-HB 5581 – will support and encourage arts education and programming for our young children, K-12 students, and youth and adults impacted by the justice system.

RACC supports and will continue to monitor the Arts Education for All Act for funding impacts in the arts in our local school districts and incarcerated youth and adults. A one-page summary of the Arts Education for All Act can be found here. The text of the legislation can be found here. To endorse, click here.


Introduced on August 13th in the House of Representatives by U.S. Reps Teresa Leger Fernández (D-NM) and Jay Obernolte (R-CA), the Creative Economy Revitalization Act (CERA)-HR 5019, and endorsed by Oregon Congresswoman Bonamici, will help communities recover through creative jobs.

The Creative Economy Revitalization Act (CERA) is a $300 million dollar 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 harmed by COVID-19.  To read more and endorse CERA, click here.


Oregon HB 4040 – Effective July 1, would appropriate money to the Oregon Business Development Department to develop and implement a program to award grants to Oregon cultural organizations in response to the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on organizations’ earned revenue. The text of legislation can be found here.



Ensuring American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding allocated in 2021 is distributed quickly to the arts and culture sector 

  • The Oregon legislature allocated $50M in APRA funding to be distributed: 
    • $5M for movie theaters (anticipated Jan. 2022) 
    • $30M for “live venues” (anticipated Feb./March 2022) 
    • $15M for live venue support (anticipated in March/April 2022) 
  • RACC will continue to monitor and support Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon’s (CACO) work with Business Oregon and legislative leaders to support progress and distribution of funds through these programs. 

Advocating for additional funding support to the sector 

  • According to data from Americans for the Arts, Oregon’s art sector has lost an estimated $66M, with over 70% of entities expecting a “severe financial impact.” 
  • RACC supports CACO request of an additional $50M in funds to support the long-term recovery of the sector, including recruitment of staff, reopening, additional costs to put on productions, etc. 


Americans for the Arts surveyed arts organizations and agencies of all types, genres, sices, and tax statuses for nearly a year to capture the human and financial impact of the coronavirus on America’s art sector.”

  • 905 organizations participated in the survey
    • $66,029,425 in financial loss
    • $21,00 was the median loss
    • 13% are not confident of their survival
    • 71% expect sever financial impact
  • 369 organizations were included in the Financial Data (Outliers and nul responses were removed prior to reporting)
    • The median loss was $22,000

Supporting the renewal of special assessments for historic preservation 

  • History can be found in our people, museums, art, and even our buildings. RACC supports local and state initiatives ensuring the access and interest for all Oregonians in preserving the humanities through a variety of programs.

RACC Endorses Oregon House Bill 4040 sponsored by Representative Rob Nosse (District 42) and Senator Akasha Lawrence-Spence (District 18)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 7, 2022 

Portland, OR – 

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) joins fellow arts and cultural organizations, City Councils, the City of Portland, Counties, Legislators, and individuals across Oregon in support of HB4040 during this Short Legislative Session which commenced on February 1, 2022.

HB4040 will “appropriate money to the Oregon Business Development Department to develop and implement a program to award grants to Oregon cultural organizations in response to the negative impact of COVID-19 pandemic on organizations’ earned revenue.”  

This bill sets $50 million aside through grants that will provide immediate relief to our arts and cultural organizations across the state of Oregon, effective July 1 if passed into law. 

J.S. May, Board President of the Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon (CACO) states, “We believe creativity is and will be critical for the health and recovery of all Oregonians. The cultural sector will play a large part in reuniting our communities post-pandemic and rebuilding our collective spirit.” 

RACC’s Chief of External Operations, Carol Tatch, reminds us, “The opportunity to continue supporting our creatives and artists is paramount. RACC is leaning deeply into this space to ensure that they are supported and held during this unprecedented moment in history. We are here to ensure that they are here today, and tomorrow, enriching their communities through art and culture.”

In the fall of 2021, RACC endorsed the Arts Education for all Act (H.R.5581) co-sponsored by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR1). The Arts Education for All Act will support and encourage arts education and programming for our young children, K-12 students, and youth and adults impacted by the justice system. A one-page summary of the Arts Education for All Act can be found here. The text of the legislation can be found here. To endorse, click here.

This is an historic year for arts and cultural funding across the nation. We are proud that Oregon is joining in these efforts to provide advocacy and relief, and to elevate our creative economy. Click here to learn more about all the bills in this legislative session.


The Regional Arts & Culture Council is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that provides grants for artists and nonprofit organizations in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties; manages an internationally acclaimed public art program; convenes forums, networking events, and other community gatherings; advocates for a well-rounded arts education and promotes community engagement,  and provides workshops and other forms of technical assistance. RACC advocates for equity, inclusion, and access, working to build a community in which everyone can participate in culture, creativity, and the arts. For more information visit racc.org



Carol Tatch, Chief of External Operations


Regional Arts & Culture Council’s What’s Next Survey Summary

What’s Next: Connecting artists and creatives to opportunity and access

What's Next Respondents

What’s Next Respondents

Over a year and half ago, the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) reached out early on during the COVID-19 shutdown to our community and stakeholders to ask what their needs were during this extremely challenging time. Administered in 2020, the What’s Next survey sought to understand the types of support that the arts community most needed to survive and thrive during the pandemic and what it would need to recover. A total of 392 people responded to our survey, 63% of respondents identifying as artists. (Read the What’s Next Survey Summary for a visual breakdown summary of respondents and findings. Note: the report was published in May of 2021 and contains opinions, language, and information that has since been addressed by RACC. Clarification is indicated by brackets.)

You can read full results and report here.


Key Findings and Highlights

The following are key highlights and some findings, along with a summary of the initiatives RACC implemented to address these answers and continue to inform our future plans. Full results from the 2020 What’s Next survey can be found here

The What’s Next survey centered around themes of support, service, engagement, and connection during the early period of the shutdown, a time when the creative sector was hit hard by the impact of the global pandemic and successive shutdowns. RACC was interested in understanding how we could support and build resilience for the challenges, changes, and opportunities that would, and still do, lay ahead of us. With a commitment to equity and access, we intentionally sought to gather information on how best to support artists of color and others marginalized by traditional and mainstream support systems. 

The survey results revealed that the most critical needs across all respondents were as follows (language pulled from the original survey and answers given by respondents, listed here in order of importance determined by the frequency of each response):

  • Funding
    There remains an overwhelming need for arts funding in the region as organizations and individual artists face extreme challenges resulting from the Covid pandemic and struggle to remain financially viable.
  • Professional Development
    Training, professional development, collaboration, and mentorship opportunities remain essential, especially with the need to reinvent and reimagine the ways in which art is presented during and while recovering from a pandemic with limited in-person gatherings.
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion [and Advocacy]
    More than ever before support is needed for inclusion of local artists from underrepresented groups and those who work in unconventional art genres. Outreach efforts are essential to attract and retain more diverse audiences.
  • Space [both physical and time/ability to work]
    A shortage of spaces, both physical and mental, was highlighted by respondents as a challenge to surviving and thriving in the past and still current environment. Physical spaces have been lost due to rising rents and limitations on in-person capacity. Reductions in mental space for creativity and networking opportunities have been difficult.
  • Connection
    Community-building is essential in the arts and respondents found it lacking here in Portland. It was indicated that collaboration is needed now more than ever. New ways to engage communities need consideration and are required.
  • Marketing Support
    Artists and arts organizations need assistance with advertising, marketing, and promotion in order to help recover from the ongoing pandemic losses. Reaching and engaging an audience is complicated with the ebb and flow of restrictions more than ever.

Responses from a combination of participants indicated an overwhelming need for funding to ensure viability as well as a sustainable future. Artists needed income and arts organizations needed patrons to survive the pandemic restrictions.

“Without audiences or with limited ones, operational funds are the highest priority, to avoid cultural organizations totally going under and disappearing.”

Apart from asking respondents about the most helpful financial support needs, the What’s Next survey also asked respondents to identify their top future professional development priorities to help RACC focus its resources to best meet the needs of the arts community.

Artists Identified:
Survey participants were given a list of possible professional development, technical support, or other related services and asked to identify which ones would be most helpful in the next 6-18 months.

  1. Social Media and marketing support (35%) 
  2. One-on-one coaching with RACC staff or other professional (28%) 
  3. Skill development workshops (25%) 
  4. Review and feedback of draft proposals (22%) 
  5. Post-decision feedback (22%) 
Artists Professional Development

Artists Professional Development

Arts Organizations Identified:
Survey participants were given a list of possible professional development, technical support, or other related services and asked to identify which ones would be most helpful in the next 6-18 months.

  1. Skill development (34%) 
  2. Coordinated political advocacy (29%) [RACC as guide for calls to action and coordination]
  3. One-on-one or group coaching for staff, board and/or professionals (27%) 
  4. Group info sessions for opportunities (grants, public art calls) (21%) 
  5. Convening discussion around urgent topics (20%)
Arts Organizations Professional Development

Arts Organizations Professional Development

How RACC Continues to Respond

As a result of the What’s Next survey findings, RACC responded by bolstering programming and processes already in place along with stepping into new arenas. Some, of these included:

  • Make | Learn | Build Grants: To increase financial assistance to a greater number of recipients, these flexible awards supported artists, creatives, organizations, and businesses during a time of rapid change and creative innovation. Funds were provided to 317 artists and 99 businesses in FY21, with the programming continuing through the pandemic.
  • Capturing the Moment supported by PDXCARES funding: In response to current social concerns, this initiative called for submissions from Portland artists of color that captured a creative response to the global pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, racial justice protests, climate crisis, and/or the political environment. Work was purchased from 34 Black, Indigenous, and other artists of color.
  • Capacity expansion for grant funding: By partnering with multiple governmental entities, RACC was able to support Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) funds impact in the community. Additional grants supported projects, Oregon Film, venues, and emergency operational support.

Looking Forward

The Regional Arts & Culture Council continues to be focused on making the greatest impact and aligning its investments with its commitment to community, racial equity, and access. RACC continues enhancing support for the creative community in the tri-county region through investment, centering and lifting up artists’ voices, and promoting connection and collaboration.

We will continue to reach out to engage our community by asking for their thoughts and insights to ensure we are effectively meeting their needs. We look forward to your consideration in participating in our next survey in Winter 2022.

Support Beam Artist Reflection: Patricia Vázquez

Patricia Vázquez is an artist with SUPPORT BEAM, a new RACC grant program supporting artists’ long term creative practice and livelihood. 

I have been drawing, painting and making prints for longer than I have done any other kind of artwork. I am a self taught visual artist. I have learned through taking classes here and there, and through working independently to develop a formal language. It has been a slow and private endeavor. The process of publicly becoming an artist was plagued by doubts, fears and contradicting inner messages. For most of my life, I couldn’t embrace an artistic identity. In a recent interview with students from Reynolds HS (available through the Art Talk Bus podcast), I shared that when I was young, I thought artists were people from another planet. Where I grew up, in the most populated and impoverished area of Mexico City, there were no artists, art centres, art activities, or anything art related. Art was something that people from a reality radically different than mine did. It took me decades (and tens of thousands of dollars in student debt!) to transform that belief. Even today, when I say “I am an artist”, the voice that speaks feels foreign to me, like it belongs to somebody else, or like it comes from somewhere far away.

As a result of acquiring an MFA in Social Practice, most of the artwork I make available publicly, and get paid for, is interdisciplinary and process based. This kind of work is a good fit for me, because it allows me to explore issues, situations and people I am deeply interested in, to use methodologies I learned while working as an organizer and educator, and to test the impact of socially embedded art making processes. However, producing images is also an essential aspect of my artistic thinking. I have intensely missed creating images, the quietness of a studio and the dialogue with the paper and the canvas. Compared to my interdisciplinary artwork, my visual work is not as immediately recognizable as socially or politically invested, but the fact that I am doing it feels incredibly political to me. The fact that it exists, that it is created by this person that wasn’t meant to be an artist, has a political significance.

The drawings I have created over the last few months originate in countless studies, sketches and doodles of the natural world. Some of them maintain a direct resemblance to landscapes, plants, logs, stones and other natural elements. But others, while done in the same style, are less recognizable landscapes, “impossible architectures” as I have started to call them. In these drawings I combine semi-architectural structures with an organic style of drawing. These works are manifestations of ecological anxiety and visions for a future where the natural reclaims the artificial; a future where the announced ecological catastrophe is reversed and nature trumps the threat of human domination.

The monoprints are a combination of these drawings and an experimental use of screen printing. This is a new way of working for me. Until recently I have used screen printing in a more traditional way, creating multiples of posters, t-shirts or other materials with a functional use. I have developed an interest in the pictorial qualities of screen printing and its potential for creating textures and color surfaces that are not controlled and that are unique to each print. I am still developing a language in this new medium, and I look forward to continuing this body of work.

-Patricia Vázquez

Patricia Vázquez Gómez works and lives between the ancient Tenochtitlán and the unceded, occupied, stolen and colonized lands of the Chinook, Clackamas, Multnomah and other Indigenous peoples. Her art practice investigates the social functions of art, the intersections between aesthetics, ethics and politics and the expansion of community based art practices. She uses a variety of media to carry out her research: painting, printmaking, video, exhibitions, music and socially engaged art projects. The purpose and methodologies of her work are deeply informed by her experiences working in the immigrant rights and other social justice movements. Her work has been shown at the Portland Art Museum, the Reece Museum, the Paragon Gallery, and the Houston Art League, but also in other spaces as apartments complexes, community based organizations and schools. She is the recipient of the 2013 Arlene Schnitzer Visual Arts Prize and has received support from the Ford Foundation, Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC), the Portland Institute of Contemporary Art (PICA), Portland’s Jade and Midway Districts and the Oregon Community Foundation. Patricia’s work can be explored at http://cargocollective.com/patriciavg

For more updates and ongoing stories from Support Beam artists, follow along on Instagram at #RACCSupportBeam.