Why a Regional Arts Approach is Best for the Community to Thrive – Oregon ArtsWatch

Carol Tatch (second from left), Executive Director of the Regional Arts and Culture Council, with (from left) Javon Johnson, Ted Lange, Regina Taylor, and Phillip Bernard Smith. RACC hosted these artists during the recent Pacific Northwest Multi Cultural Readers Series and Film Festival. Photo: Meech Boakye

The City of Portland has notified the Regional Arts & Culture Council of its intent to end a 28-year fiscal relationship by Summer 2024. Carol Tatch, Executive Director of RACC, wrote an opinion piece for Oregon Arts Watch on why a regional arts approach is best for the community to thrive. 

“Our grantees are not just names on applications; they are our partners in our mission. RACC continues to demonstrate how our local region can successfully engage, support, uplift, highlight, and share arts and culture. RACC has clearly demonstrated it is the solution for clear access to funding, engagement with respect and dignity, and a regional advocate for more funding and support for arts and culture, for the past 28 years.”

We invite your questions and ask that you actively demand that the city support RACC in continuing its mission, which deeply honors equity, transparency, and community uplift. Please check out the RACC Advocacy Hub as well as joining with us for our “RACC in Community” conversations coming soon (check our website and social media for updates on where and when). All are invited!

Read the full article here.

RACC’s Unwavering Commitment to Arts: Discussing the Future of Arts Funding on “Eye on Northwest Politics”

In a recent “Eye on Northwest Politics” segment on KOIN 6, Carol Tatch, Executive Director of the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC), addressed Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan’s decision to terminate the city’s contract with RACC. Carol spoke with Ken Boddie about how this action raises critical concerns about the future of arts and cultural development in Portland at an especially pivotal moment.

RACC is a community-based organization that stands for the values and desires of the community. The organization was formed 28 years ago with a mission to foster artistic expression in the Portland metro area, and this mission is reflected in everything we do. Since then, RACC has been at the forefront of arts and culture, leading the region in understanding what our artists and creatives need.

The decision to terminate the contract is particularly concerning for several reasons. First, it removes arts funding decisions from the hands of the community and places them within government agencies. RACC was established to ensure that arts funding is decided by the community.

Second, RACC is more efficient and faster in its operations than what can be replicated at the government level. RACC uses community reviewers who are familiar with the arts and have specialized knowledge. This ensures that funding decisions are equitable and reflect the voices of the community. We also offer professional development opportunities and engage with the community at levels that cannot be replicated at the City level. RACC is a nonprofit, non-partisan group that has been responsive to the community’s needs.

Furthermore, it is essential to understand that RACC is not a government agency. We work with our communities to ensure that there is a diverse and equitable lens in our approach to arts and culture. We have garnered community trust over time and have become a leading voice in the arts and culture ecosystem in the Portland metro area.

As we move forward, we remain focused on the larger community and are exploring how best to continue in our role. What’s more important is the loss of community input and the community’s voice in making decisions about which artists and arts organizations have their voices lifted or diminished. We were created by the people for the people, and today’s RACC is the culmination of long-time community regional needs.

We are excited to be part of the solution for the City of Portland and all our partners. Portland is at a pivotal point in its economic recovery, and we look forward to being part of the solution. We are the fabric of the Portland Metro region that threads together art and cultural communities, and we are ready to face the challenges ahead with the expertise, heart, and vision that RACC has sustained for over a quarter-century.

Thank you for your continued support. We encourage you to watch the full segment to learn more about our efforts to support the arts community, our plans for the future, and the significance of a centralized organization serving artists, creatives, and the broader creative economy. Despite the upcoming changes, we remain diligently committed to our mission. 

Supporting RACC & Contacting Portland City Council

The recent announcement by City of Portland Commissioner Dan Ryan to discontinue its 28-year contract with the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) has ignited a passionate response within the creative community. RACC, a 501(c)(3) organization, has been a steadfast advocate for artists and creatives in the tri-county region, ensuring equitable access to funding, resources, and opportunities. This decision raises questions about the future of art and culture in our beloved city, and it’s essential that we rally together to ensure our artistic community remains vibrant and flourishing.

As we grapple with this decision, it’s important to remember that our collective voice can drive change. We have the power to advocate for artistic equity and ensure that RACC’s vital contributions continue to enrich the lives of countless individuals in our city. To that end, RACC has provided tools and templates for written and oral testimony that you can use to voice your support and concerns to City of Portland Commissioners.

Taking Action: Making Your Voice Heard
By utilizing the tools and templates provided by RACC, you can draft emails or letters to City of Portland Commissioners, expressing your views and urging them to reconsider the decision. Download the templates at the right, personalize them with your thoughts and experiences, and send them to the provided email or physical addresses. https://www.portland.gov/council-clerk/engage-council 

Email Council Members
Mayor Ted Wheeler: mayorwheeler@portlandoregon.gov
Commissioner Carmen Rubio Carmen.Rubio@portlandoregon.gov
Commissioner Dan Ryan Dan.Ryan@portlandoregon.gov
Commissioner Rene Gonzalez gonzalezoffice@portlandoregon.gov
Commissioner Mingus Mapps Mingus.Mapps@portlandoregon.gov

Submit Written Testimony
Written testimony may be submitted for specific agenda items by visiting the Council agenda or by mail to: Council Clerk, 1221 SW 4th Avenue, Room 130, Portland, OR 97204. Written testimony is not read out loud into the record during the meeting.

Please submit written testimony by visiting the Council Agenda (testimony is not accepted by email).  Please call 503-823-4082
Reference: Engage with Council Page

Together, let’s paint a future where art knows no boundaries, where diverse voices are celebrated, and where creativity flourishes in every corner of our city. Through our collective efforts, we can ensure that RACC’s legacy endures, enriching our lives and those of future generations through the power of art and culture.

Here are other ways how you can make your voice heard and stand up for RACC’s important work:

Donate to Support RACC

Your financial support can make a tangible difference in sustaining RACC’s programs and initiatives. As a 501(c)(3) organization, RACC leverages public and private funding to champion artists and creatives. Your contribution ensures that their crucial work continues to flourish. Form can be found here.

Participate in City Council Meetings

City Council meetings offer a platform to share your thoughts and experiences. By providing written or oral testimony, you can influence the decision-making process and highlight the importance of RACC’s role in fostering artistic diversity and inclusion. RACC’s Advocacy Hub provides templates and tools to help you prepare effective testimony.

Arts Oversight Committee- Arts Education & Access Income Tax Fund

These meetings are open to the public and convene virtually. The committee is comprised of a group of Portland volunteers who are passionate about arts and culture in our community and work to ensure the AEAF monies are spent according to the ballot measure passed by the residents in the City of Portland in 2012. For more information go here.

Engage in Open Dialogue

Communication is key during this pivotal time. Please join us for our Community Engagement Series, happening now at various community spaces around the region. If you have questions, concerns, or insights regarding the situation, don’t hesitate to reach out to RACC at advocacy@racc.org. Your feedback and engagement are vital in shaping the direction of their advocacy efforts.

Apply for the Arts3C Grant

If you’re an artist or creative looking to contribute to the cultural landscape, consider applying for the Arts3C Grant. This grant program, now open for Fall 2023 applications, offers invaluable opportunities to bring your artistic visions to life and contribute to Portland’s thriving arts scene.

Shaping a Brighter Future for the Arts
As we stand united in support of RACC, we’re not only advocating for an organization; we’re advocating for the very heart and soul of our creative community. RACC’s dedication to equitable access, representation, and artistic enrichment has transformed countless lives and empowered artists to express themselves authentically.


RACC Grantee Heléna Dupre Thompson’s “Unintentional Spectacles”

Laura Vincent Design & Gallery is a space in downtown Portland known since 2018 for its careful selection of contemporary artists. We visited to interview artist Heléna Dupre Thompson and view her exhibition Unintentional Spectacles, funded in part by a Make|Learn|Build grant from the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC). 

Thompson was raised in the industrial city of Providence, Rhode Island, and worked as a firefighter. This exhibition served as a testament to her background. Thompson extracts stories from what many overlook: utility poles covered in posters, skate parks, and the undersides of skateboards, transforming close-up images into abstract worlds. 

On view alongside Unintentional Spectacles was James Florschutz’s exhibition, Assembled Fragments. Constructed out of found materials, these objects carried their own histories, challenging our views on urban sprawl and consumerism. Together, these two artists’ were in conversation, their works resonating with each other, weaving narratives of urban life and transformation from the seemingly mundane.

The phrase “industrial beauty” seems like an oxymoron, but in Thompson’s hands, it becomes an exploration of the aesthetic potential hidden in the mundane. “I’ve always been drawn to abstraction,” she says. Providence is a city with an industrial history like her current home, Portland. Despite the geographical distance and the years away, she found unexpected similarities between the two cities. “Providence is kind of like a really small version of Portland,” she notes, describing the shared landscapes, content, and political undercurrents, though also acknowledging a few east-west coast differences.

Her work, characterized by magnifying her lens deep into her subjects, is layered with history, the passage of time, and the gentle or not-so-gentle interventions by humans and nature alike. Focusing on the elements that resonate most with her, Thompson encapsulates vast landscapes within tiny surface areas. “Most of my [photographs]…are about a one to two-inch surface area,” she shares; yet these miniature compositions hint at large geological formations. 

Thompson challenges the notion that her work is a form of documentation. While she captures the tangible realities of her subjects, she intends to remove them from their context and allow them to stand separate. It’s an intriguing juxtaposition of preservation and abstraction that pulls viewers into an almost ethereal space, urging them to question and rethink what they’re perceiving. “I do this…for the viewer to see it however they want to see it,” she explained. The result is an abstraction so detailed, it becomes a world unto itself.

Thompson embraces spontaneity in her creative process, and her work emerges from the unexpected, while staying grounded in the physical world. “Most of my work happens on-site,” Thompson reveals. But there is an element of serendipity at play. She explains, “Sometimes I’ll be riding my bike and I’ll find chunks of metal or glass [on the roadside]. I’ll [then] take them back to my studio and compose them there.”

“Being in that environment, hearing the sounds, seeing the people, meeting the people, smelling the smells… It makes me more connected to the city and the people.”

Her experimentation is not confined to stationary objects; she draws inspiration even from the fleeting, like skateboarders gliding by at the park. “I’m interested in the surfaces that the skaters skate on, but also what the undersides of their boards look like,” she says, unveiling an exciting recent find, recycled skateboard decks. “This is the thing that scraped the wall that I was photographing and now…already…this is a piece,” she marvels, cradling the board. “I love [this] kind of layering…First of all, there’s a graphic on it, right? And then somebody bought it and put these stickers on it. And then who knows where this board has been? Now, through the actions of the skater, it becomes a mashing and regeneration of the original colors, lines and textures,” she contemplates, her words subtly drawing parallels between her work and life itself – a multitude of intricate, layered experiences.

Thompson sees the relationship with these environments and communities as a two-way street — she was observing them, and they were inadvertently shaping her. 

“Being in that environment, hearing the sounds, seeing the people, meeting the people, smelling the smells… It makes me more connected to the city and the people. Even if I see them once, there’s a bond that I feel more connected to,” she confessed. “Being amongst artists and communities, I’ve gotten so much out of that and learned so much from it.” These interactions fostered a sense of shared understanding, a silent bond that she found incredibly nurturing. “I feel like it makes me a more present person, more caring. As artists, we have this connection that a lot of people don’t have. It’s made me feel more whole in a lot of ways, more connected to my environment and myself.”

Thompson also noted the crucial role of funding bodies like RACC, acknowledging how its support had impacted her journey as an artist. She concluded, “[This grant] allowed me to take a few leaps forward, to prioritize my craft, to grow, and to learn. I truly believe I wouldn’t have been in this gallery now if it weren’t for the timing of that grant.” 

As we wrapped up, I was given the exciting news that Thompson had been asked to be represented by Laura Vincent Gallery as the show concluded, confirming the steady evolution of her artistic trajectory. Laura Vincent Gallery’s invitation emphasizes Thompson’s unique visual language and the raw intimacy she brings to her work. With her journey marked by a non-traditional, self-guided education, Thompson’s story reflects the potential for diverse routes into the art world, celebrating creativity that thrives outside established norms. 

All images by Heléna Dupre Thompson, from Unintentional Spectacles.” 

For RACC – Community Matters

By Carol Tatch, Executive Director

Many of you have heard: Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan announced he has created a separate office of arts and culture inside Portland city government. He is also planning to not renew RACC’s contract when it expires on June 30, 2024. This will seriously impact RACC’s ability to serve you.  

Here’s why this matters  — and why we believe Commissioner Dan Ryan is making a grave mistake.  

Everything RACC does  — through our grantmaking, support to artists and arts organizations, and public art programs — is focused on the health and well-being of arts and culture in the Portland Metro region. Our work benefits city residents as well as everyone in the larger metro area. A thriving arts and culture community is what our area is known for across the nation, and RACC plays an essential role in this.  

Perhaps the most critical idea for people to understand is that a decentralized approach to distributing public support for arts and culture will lead to significant gaps in service and support. The potential for lasting damage to a fragile eco-system that has experienced tremendous challenges in the last three years is real and considerable. There is an important distinction between what is, and what could be if city commissioners vote to defund RACC. We consistently put the region’s artists and creatives, and our communities, first, and have a documented tenure of distributing our partners’ funds with integrity. We listen to the individual voices within our communities, and believe that you should be part of artistic decisions in your community. There is currently a Cultural Planning process underway that is not upheld by this decision. If there are changes to be made to how RACC and the City operate together, it should be done following the analysis of community input. 

We have been hearing from many community members that you support the continuation of RACC as the primary steward of public funding for arts and culture. If you want to learn more about why it is vital to maintain RACC and protect our communities’ artists and creatives, ensuring everyone’s access to art, here’s what you can do: 

  • Share your perspective: Reach out to your local officials to voice concern for Commissioner Ryan’s plan to end RACC’s contract and create a government-run office of arts and culture. We’ve prepared some letter templates that you can adapt to your point of view; please click here for information and downloads to get you started. 
  • Speak your mind: Sign up to testify at a City Council meeting. This is your time as a member of the public. Let City Commissioners know you’re not happy they’re leaving you out of future arts funding decisions. 
  • Join us: In a few weeks we will host a series of community conversations to listen to your concerns and suggestions. We’ll also share highlights of what we’ve achieved in the last 28 years — and what you could lose if the city follows through on its plan to take arts funding from the Regional Arts & Culture Council. 
  • Sign up: If you haven’t already, please sign up for our newsletter and share with friends and family who may be interested in supporting our collective mission! 

For almost three decades, RACC has walked the talk of our mission and values: To enrich our communities through arts and culture and create a thriving region, powered by creativity, bringing arts and culture to every neighborhood. This mission was thoughtfully designed in collaboration with our public funding partners.  

Please let us know if you have any ideas or questions and stay tuned. Thank you so much for your ongoing support – it means the world to us.  

— Carol 

RACC Grantee North Pole Studio Recount their Experience at the Outsider Art Fair

In the spring of 2020, North Pole Studio emerged as a testament to creative inclusion and artistic empowerment. In June of 2023, I spoke with Sula Willson about the organization and their recent experience at the Outsider Art Fair in New York City, a trip made possible through a Regional Arts & Culture Council Arts3C grant. Co-founded by a dedicated group of artists, educators, and advocates — Sula Willson, Mary Ellen Andersen, Davis Wohlford, Sarah Mensah — the organization serves as a robust platform supporting careers in the arts, particularly for artists with autism and intellectual/developmental disabilities. As Willson shared in our conversation, “…we decided to open North Pole Studio as another option for folks who needed a creative space that was intentionally smaller, intentionally quieter, and highly individualized.” 

A large, colorful artwork filled with bold lines and abstract shapes sits on a wall. Below it, a comfy looking couch. On the adjacent wall sit five smaller artworks of varying size.

Housed in NW Marine Artworks, Portland’s largest collaborative of professional artist studios, North Pole Studio is more than a 1,200 sq/ft space for creation: it embodies the belief that understanding diverse human experiences is foundational to a vibrant and whole community. With an unwavering commitment to fostering self-determination and facilitating meaningful connections, the organization ensures that its artists thrive as visible contributors to both local and national contemporary art communities. “We always say that the space belongs to the artists… and we are here to facilitate whatever artists come to create and pursue,” says Willson, encapsulating the mission of North Pole Studio and its focused approach. 

In a vertical line, three small paintings on cardboard sit on a wall. Each depict colorful, costumed, faceless figures. To the right and left are more gestural and abstract framed works. A potted plant peeks into the left side of the image.

Communication is central at North Pole Studio, bridging gaps and enabling artists to navigate opportunities and employment within the art world and beyond. Willson explains, “…we scaffold communication in a lot of different ways, but we use a lot of social stories, visual supports,” tailoring contracts or other documents that may be inaccessible to individual artists. Collaboratively, unique strategies are crafted for each artist. For some artists like James Enos, the studio acts as the primary liaison with his book dealer. For others, like Austin Brague, guidance is provided as he applies for opportunities independently.  The need for spaces like this studio is great, as evidenced by North Pole Studio’s rapid growth. As the organization begins to tackle questions of growth and scalability, one thing is clear: at North Pole Studio, the individual needs of the artists will always take center stage. 

As with many arts nonprofits, the challenging landscape of funding underscores their mission. In an endeavor to make their workshops more accessible, the studio has introduced a sliding scale fee for all programs, which in turn amplifies the need for more robust external funding. Despite this terrain, the determination of Willson, Andersen, and the myriad collaborators that allow the space to run smoothly, remains unwavering. What keeps them going is their recognition of the transformative influence that this support and advocacy has on artists’ lives. Willson describes, “having someone recognize that you are capable of something bigger than you thought… is empowering within itself.” 

In our conversation, Willson highlighted North Pole Studio’s core belief of fostering individual growth and opening doors to opportunities for artists with autism and intellectual/developmental disabilities. Their commitment to this mission was brought to life when they attended the Outsider Art Fair in New York City, made possible through funding from RACC. This experience served as both an enriching platform for their artists and a milestone in the studio’s journey. Now, to truly capture the experience, let’s turn to the team at North Pole Studio, who share below their firsthand reflections and insights from the fair: 

In March 2022, RAAC awarded an Arts3C grant that made it possible for North Pole Studio to represent three artists at the highly competitive Outsider Art Fair in New York City. This eye-opening and career-changing exhibition opportunity would not have been possible without RACC’s funding, and we are deeply grateful for the support. The fair was a true whirlwind — an enriching, educational, challenging, colorful experience that provided a valuable new perspective for our staff, artists, and their advocates, family members, and community members.

The Outsider Art Fair is the largest exhibition of self-taught artists in the world. It occurs biannually in Paris and New York, and is internationally attended by exhibitors, visitors, and patrons alike. “Outsider Art” or art brut (raw art) historically describes artists who are creating outside of educational institutions and traditional techniques, or those without exposure to (whether intentional or not) or influence from popular art culture and trends. Aesthetically and philosophically, this work has a rawness to it — and is valued for its pure, expressive, seemingly unselfconscious quality which captures the artists’ completely original experience.A scanned piece of paper filled with pink and red handwriting.

Some of the most renowned “Outsider” artists include Bill Traylor, who was born into slavery and began creating art in his eighties; Martín Ramírez, a railway worker who was institutionalized with schizophrenia in his later life; and Judith Scott, a deaf woman with Down’s Syndrome who discovered her creative voice in a supported art studio. In the contemporary art world, the “Outsider Art” movement has broadened significantly, encompassing a diverse community of artists both dead and living. Today, the commonality among artists represented at the fair is that they are entirely self-taught, and are creating extraordinary artwork in a style and technique that is completely their own. 

As the field has evolved, the term “Outsider” itself has become controversial. Many of the artists represented at the fair are from marginalized communities, including artists that are low-income, disabled, and BIPOC with many intersections in between. North Pole Studio is intentionally embedded inside the professional arts community. Our location is a strategic choice to combat the isolation and access barriers that artists with disabilities continue to face in their communities. While almost all of the artists we serve are entirely self-taught, the desire to identify as an “Outsider” in the art world varies from artist-to-artist and is rejected by many.

North Pole Studio is part of a nationwide movement of progressive art studios who are working to amplify the voices and work of artists with disabilities. The energy of this movement is vibrant, and very much alive at the fair. Using these funds from RACC, we were so proud to represent artists Austin Brague, Dan Tran, and James Enos. Our highlight by far was having Austin and Dan join us in New York City to represent their work firsthand. Austin worked on his submission for over a year — a large scale pen and ink drawing of New York City — which he triumphantly sold at the fair, breaking many New Yorker hearts. Artist James Enos is co-represented by Booklyn, Inc. and this was his second appearance at the fair. He also sold an original work on the first day. James’ work truly stands out at the fair, as he is among a minority of artists working in book form and has developed an unparalleled binding technique, which includes large-scale illustrations which can fold out over 5 feet long. Dan Tran is a rising star in the progressive art world, and it was our pleasure to make face-to-face introductions to fans from all over the country who continue to follow his work.

Austin shared that he had no idea that he was part of such a vast community of self-taught and disabled artists. He was “blown away by the creativity, how vast the collection of work is…[he] had no idea.” Selling work at this level made him realize that success as a professional artist is in reach, and it has motivated him to focus his art practice and dream bigger moving forward. Prior to joining North Pole Studio, many of the artists we serve were creating work in isolation, with little access to resources and exposure. Beyond the art sales and professional connections, the community aspect was perhaps the most powerful impact of our experience at the Outsider Art Fair — the sense of place and connection with an international community of self-taught artists who are valued as professionals, and core contributors to art history and contemporary art. 

We learned so much, and returned to Portland with valuable insights to share with North Pole Studio’s community, and Portland’s art community at large. We can’t wait to go back!

To learn more about North Pole Studio, please visit their website. They are currently seeking new artists to join their Main Studio Program this year. If you or someone you know is seeking supported studio space and looking to connect with a community of artists, they’d love to hear from you!

Image Captions, from top to bottom: A glimpse inside of North Pole Studio’s cozy, art-filled space. Detail of various artworks hung on the studio wall. Work by James Enos, Writing

OPB’s Think Out Loud captures RACC response to City Defunding Announcement

By Josué Rivas

Uniting in Support of RACC: Advocating for Artistic Equity in Portland

The recent announcement by City of Portland Commissioner Dan Ryan to discontinue its 28-year contract with the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) has sparked concern and uncertainty within the creative community. RACC, a 501(c)(3) organization, has been a steadfast advocate for artists and creatives in the tri-county region, ensuring equitable access to funding and resources. RACC’s leadership recently had the opportunity to discuss this development on today’s edition (7/27/23) of Think Out Loud, shedding light on the crucial role they play in promoting artistic diversity and inclusion in Portland and tri-county region.

Carol Tatch, RACC Co-Executive Director, and Debby Garman, RACC Board Interim Chair and Treasurer spoke with Dave Miller regarding the recent announcement. Thank you for your support for RACC! Listen to the full recording here.

How you can support RACC:

As we face this challenging moment, there are numerous ways we can stand in solidarity with RACC and support their mission. Donating to RACC is an impactful way to contribute to their efforts in advocating for artistic equity. Your support will help sustain their vital programs and initiatives, ensuring artists and creatives have the resources they need to thrive.

  • Support RACC! We are a 501(c)(3) committed to ensuring equitable access to funding and advocacy for artists and creatives in the tri-county region. Donate here.
  • Testify at City Council meetings (tools and templates for written and oral testimony and letters to City of Portland Commissioners is available on our Advocacy Hub.
  • Let us know how you feel! Please send any inquiries to advocacy@racc.org.
  • Apply for a Grant! The Arts3C Grant application process for Fall 2023 has opened!

RACC completes our 2023 Fiscal Year with record number of grant awards investing in our creative community

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) is pleased to announce the distribution of substantial funds made between July 2022 and June 2023, totaling over $7.8 million, to support individual artists, arts organizations, and many art projects across the tri-county region. Grant funding is made possible by public investment and partnership from the City of Portland, Multnomah, Clackamas, and Washington Counties, Metro, and a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). RACC grants are awarded through competitive programs, primarily General Operating Support (GOS) and the new Arts3C Grant, that engage with Community Reviewers in the decision making process. These evolving grant programs are a testament to RACC’s commitment to foster a vibrant arts community and ensure equitable access to artistic experiences for all residents

Our ability to strategically ensure that our community continues to be centered as we navigate the changes brought about by the recent pandemic and social justice and equity initiatives is informed by our community, who holds us accountable, and who can see and experience the returns on their investment in RACC. These funds are from community, for community. We are grateful stewards and leaders ensuring an equitable process and program. Our private/public partnerships with our local, state, and national governments are the bedrock for these opportunities. Our success relies on thoughtful collaboration and transparency in our processes,” Carol Tatch, RACC’s Chief for External Operations.

This past years’ increased number of applicants reflect the growth in creative activity and the expanding needs of art producers. Over 60 artists, arts administrators, and arts board members reviewed applications, participated on panels, and contributed to the work in making the record number of grant awards. Four arts organizations, Alberta Abbey Foundation, Caldera, Lan Su Chinese Garden, and Resonance Vocal Ensemble, were accepted into the General Operating Support program partnership, bringing the total number of groups that receive ongoing unrestricted grant support up to 70. A list of all GOS organizations and their award amounts is available online at racc.org/ grants/grant-awards/.

Most notably, in two cycles of Arts3C grants in the last year, RACC received a total of 1100 eligible applications and awarded $1,735,000 to 452 unique recipients. RACC received 856 eligible applications and awarded $1,143,000 to 385 unique recipients in the comparable program in FY22. This ongoing growth in arts activities and interest in public grant support follows a trend that RACC has been tracking since before the pandemic.

This last year, RACC was able to make a special allocation of $2.4 million to our GOS and Capacity Building arts organizations, made possible thanks to Portland residents that voted for and paid into the Arts Education & Access Income Tax Fund (AEAF), also known as the Arts Education Tax. RACC has had a Board-approved reserve fund since 2018 when they received an unexpected allocation of arts tax revenues collected by the city. Some of those funds were distributed to partner arts organizations in a special allocation that same year and another distribution was made three years ago during the pandemic. The funds distributed through the AEAF will enhance the capacity of diverse art organizations–from visual arts institutions to performing arts organizations and cultural event programmers–to sustain their programs, outreach initiatives, and administrative functions. By providing general operating support, RACC’s distribution of its portion of AEAF funds strengthens the foundational pillars of these organizations and supports their continued vitality and the community’s access to meaningful engagement with the arts.

RACC launched the Fall cycle of Arts3C Grants on July 26, 2023, and will be offering the opportunity to apply to be a Community Reviewer in early August. While the number of applicants grows and the processes remain competitive, RACC team members continue to invest in artists and applicants through time, information, support, and learning opportunities, not to mention grant funding. RACC’s Grants team is available to answer questions and support applicants in all the grant programs.


RACC grants team: grants@racc.org