AFTA Issues Statement about FY23 Omnibus Appropriations Bill

Americans for the Arts (AFTA) and the Americans for the Arts Action Fund issue joint statement on the FY23 Omnibus Appropriations bill.

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) would like to share with you a recent press release from our partner, Americans for the Arts (AFTA). We would like to extend our gratitude to Senator Jeff Merkley (OR) for his leadership, persistence, and support of arts and culture in Oregon. We know that many organizations and individuals advocated their support for the arts and culture sector throughout our nation and wish to honor their work and time spent on this this important legislation. Read the full press release here or below.


Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Nolen Bivens, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts, and Nina Ozlu Tunceli, executive director of the Americans for the Arts Action Fund, released this statement in response to Congress’ FY 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill:

“We are very pleased that Congress has recommended a $27 million funding increase each for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), bringing them to an all-time budget high of $207 million. This action moves these agencies closer to indexing their funding at $1 per person. Of equal importance is the Congressional report language accompanying this year’s NEA and NEH funding, recommending grantmaking policies to be more equitable and diverse. This report language includes many components of Rep. Barbara Lee’s (D-CA) inspiring legislation on Advancing Equity Through the Arts and Humanities.

“We are also happy that Congress directed first-time funding of $10 million to the U.S. Department of Defense’s National Intrepid Center of Excellence to support clinical creative arts therapies for those serving in the military. An additional $5 million will go to the Department of Veteran Affairs for its Whole Health Initiative.

“Congress also approved over 68 cultural organizations across the country to receive more than $66 million in direct project funding, also known as congressional earmarks. These projects include arts education programs for youth, support for museums, theaters, and performing arts centers, and creative workforce apprenticeship programs. Additional funding increases of $26.8 million were also recommended to the Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) and $10 million for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.”

“Local and state arts agencies, arts organizations, arts unions, and artists played a significant role, as constituents, in contributing towards making this legislation possible. It cannot be overemphasized that the artists, creative workers, and culture bearers they support are the heartbeat of communities across the country. The social power of the arts has the power to unite us. The recommendation of funding at this level enables that.

“We are deeply grateful to the bipartisan and bicameral efforts of members of Congress to support and recognize the value of the arts as a national asset—particularly Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairs Rep. Chellie Pingree (D-ME) in the House and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) in the Senate.”

For tools, resources, and information on how to make the case for the arts and arts education, visit the Americans for the Arts’ Arts Mobilization Center. 


Regional Arts & Culture Council urges Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley to support Arts & Culture funding in Congress

Join Us! SIGN BY FRIDAY, NOV. 25, 2022

The final FY23 Interior Appropriations budget, which includes annual funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) will be negotiated by current members of both the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. Currently the House version sets allocations at an all-time high of $207 million each for the NEA and NEH, whereas the Senate Appropriations Committee (chaired by Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley) has allocated only $195 million each. 

RACC, the City of Portland, and Oregon arts and cultural organizations ask you to join us in respectfully urging Senator Jeff Merkley, Chair of the Interior Appropriations Committee, to accept the House-approved level of $207 million for both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).

View the letter, written by Americans for the Arts here.

Add your organization’s signature here. Please share with others and be sure to sign up by November 25th for the impact to be felt in Washington, DC.

As part of the arts and cultural sector, we know that investment strengthens our economy and the social fabric of our communities. Please join in advocating your support of this measure to Senator Jeff Merkley for increased funding!

Thank you! 

Regional Arts & Culture Council endorses the CREATIVE Act (Capital, Repairs, and Employment for Art Talent to Improve Visibility Everywhere) Introduced by Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR1)


Regional Arts & Culture Council endorses the CREATIVE Act

(Capital, Repairs, and Employment for Art Talent to Improve Visibility Everywhere) Introduced by

Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR1)

Portland, Oregon

We join arts and culture organizations and businesses across the nation, including the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Americans for the Arts (AFTA), Western States Arts Federation (WESTAF), Grantmakers in the Arts, Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon, and many others who believe that arts and culture are a vital part of what makes us human and enables us to thrive, share stories, connect, learn, and innovate. This act will support our arts organizations and grow our creative economy here in Oregon and the rest of the nation. The Capital, Repairs, and Employment for Art Talent to Improve Visibility Everywhere (CREATIVE) Act will be instrumental as arts organizations strive to recover from the pandemic. It will provide additional funds through grants to build or upgrade current facilities, produce art, reach underserved communities, and hire new staff.

“The arts are an integral part of our economy, help us better understand the world around us, and fuel authentic and meaningful community-building,” said Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici. “Arts organizations were hit hard by the pandemic and many are still struggling to rebuild. The CREATIVE Act will provide the funding these important organizations need to restore their programming and create jobs in the creative sector.”

The CREATIVE Act builds on the NEA’s critical support for local arts agencies organizations by expanding their grantmaking capacity. Specifically, the CREATIVE Act would:

Expand Access to Capital for Facilities: The grants can be used to improve or upgrade facilities, hire new staff, and produce art;

Seek Community Input: Applicants must include how their community will benefit from these resources and how they plan to sustain their programs;

Reach Underserved Communities: Eligible applicants must focus on access to the arts, including arts education in underrepresented communities;

Create Strong Guardrails: The grants will involve reporting requirements and a procedure for returning unused or misspent funds;

Make Rural Outreach a Priority: At least 20% of total grant funds will be reserved for rural communities.

Last year, The Arts Education for All Act was introduced to address the gap in access to arts education, which has the potential to improve the lifelong health and achievement of both children and adults. RACC joined hundreds of other organizations across the country in the endorsement of this act. Once again, Oregon is a leader in advocating, promoting, and encouraging creative work to be part of the artscape in our communities through these legislative acts.

Carol Tatch, RACC’s Chief of External Operations, said “As we look to creating the future that our artists and creatives deserve, RACC sees this as another tool for our continuing recovery from recent health and environmental impacts and an essential building block for access, equity, and engagement in our shared communities. Please support this effort with full hearts and open minds. Let’s KEEP creating the world we want to live in.

A one-page summary of the CREATIVE Act can be found here. The text of the legislation can be found here.                                                                                                 



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; 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




Mario Mesquita, Manager of Advocacy and Engagement, RACC


RACC Responds to SCOTUS ruling on June 24th, 2022: The Overturning of Roe v Wade

The Regional Arts & Culture Council believes that human rights include the rights of women and the right to freedom from oppression. We believe that no one is a second class citizen or resident. We believe that women are equal and should be treated as such. As an arts and cultural non-profit organization we support the arts and artists who create using all forms of creative expression. As a social justice organization we cannot remain silent, nor will we.

Our core values include:

  • Accessibility
  • Advocacy
  • Equity
  • Diversity
  • Community
  • Innovation

 For questions, please reach out to us at info@racc.org.

Change the Conversation About the Arts-AEP6 Now Open

Our nonprofit arts industry generates
billions in economic activity supporting millions of jobs every year.

The arts bring us inspiration and joy, and make our community a beautiful place to live and work. But the arts do so much more. 

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

After more than a one-year postponement, the Arts & Economic Prosperity 6 (AEP6) study is getting underway nationally this month of May 2022. This is the sixth national economic impact study of America’s nonprofit arts and cultural industry. It documents the economic contributions of the arts in diverse communities and regions across the country, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Previous partners have included local arts agencies, community foundations, economic development agencies, chambers of commerce, performing arts centers, and more. And RACC is looking for your participation!

It is now more important than ever to demonstrate that, even in the wake of COVID-19 and the resulting economic recession, the arts will provide a significant boost as we recharge the economy in America’s local communities. The arts will draw people out of their homes and back into community life—spending time with each other and spending their money with local merchants. Studies indicate that audiences cannot wait to return, and we are looking to our community along with them to count us in on that.

While the arts have the potential to impact many aspects of our community, the truth is they also have a power all on their own. The arts are an open invitation to engage in our  history, our heritage, our politics, the way we learn—in short, the arts are part of our daily lives, and play a role in all aspects of the human experience. While most appreciate the cultural benefit provided to our community, few realize that our local arts industry supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is a cornerstone of tourism. Economic impact studies such as these will expand the conversation about how many people view the arts.

In the previous survey, AEP5 showed that nationally the nonprofit arts industry generated $166.3 billion in economic activity, supporting 4.6 million jobs and generating $27.5 billion in government revenue. Locally, our arts industry generated $687 million of economic activity—$364 million in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $323 million in event-related expenditures by their audiences. This activity supported 22,299 full time equivalent jobs and generated $53 million in revenue to local and state governments. Our local nonprofit arts and culture organizations have been and will continue to be critical to our community and economic recovery.

We are currently seeking your help to collect this data for AEP6. While part of a national study, our reports will be based on spending by our own local nonprofit arts and culture organizations as well as the event-related spending by their audiences (at local retail, parking, and restaurant establishments). We believe this important research tool will demonstrate that when we invest our dollars in the arts, we are not doing so at the expense of economic development. Rather, we are investing in an industry that strengthens our local economy. 

Let’s change the conversation. The arts mean business. 

Learn more about the AEP6 study and how you can get involved today: AmericansForTheArts.org/AEP6 

In short, the arts mean business. Help us change the conversation.

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

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



If you are interested in participating and reside in our sister counties please contact the the following:

Washington County
Raziah Roushan, Executive Director of Tualatin Valley Creates, director@tvcreates.org.

Clackamas County
Dianne Alves, Executive Director of Clackamas County Art Alliance, dianne@clackamasartsalliance.org.

Arts & Economic Prosperity 6


The Arts & Economic Prosperity (AEP6) survey is back.

AEP6 documents the economic contributions of the arts in over 250 diverse communities and regions across the country, representing all 50 states and the District of Columbia. During 2015, AEP5 in Oregon the nonprofit arts and culture industry generated $687 million of economic activity—$364 million in spending by arts and cultural organizations and an additional $323 million in event-related expenditures by their audiences. This activity supported 22,299 full time equivalent jobs and generated $53 million in revenue to local and state governments.

The study put to rest a misconception that communities supported arts and culture at the expense of local economic development. In fact, what AEP5 showed was that communities were investing in an industry that supports jobs, generates government revenue, and is the cornerstone of tourism. This economic impact study sent a strong signal that when we support the arts, we not only enhance our quality of life, but we also invest in the Greater Portland Area’s economic well-being, including Clackamas and Washington Counties.

This year, we have a chance to study the impact of the past few years along with the resilience of our creative community. Nonprofit arts and culture organizations are active contributors to our business community. They are employers, producers, and consumers. They are members of the Chamber of Commerce as well as key partners in the marketing and promotion of their cities, regions, and states. Spending by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations totaled $364 million during fiscal year 2015.

To measure the impact of spending by cultural audiences in the Greater Portland Area, data were collected from 1,474 event attendees during AEP5. Researchers used an audience-intercept methodology, a standard technique in which patrons are asked to complete a short survey about their event-related spending (while they are attending the event). Event-related spending by these attendees totaled $116 million in the Greater Portland Area during fiscal year 2015, excluding the cost of event admission.

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 showed conclusively that, locally as well as nationally, the arts mean business!

Read more about RACC’s lead in the City of Portland and Multnomah County here.

Audience surveys will be collected from attendees at performances, events, exhibits, venues, and facilities during the 12 months from May 2022 through April 2023. Venue Eligibility

If you are interested in getting involved as either a venue to be counted please submit your live event for consideration here (for the tri-county area) and/or are interested in volunteering in Multnomah County, please contact Mario Mesquita, Manager of Advocacy & Engagement at Regional Arts & Culture Council at AEP6@racc.org

Raziah Roushan, Executive Director of Tualatin Valley Creates, director@tvcreates.org, for Washington County
Dianne Alves, Executive Director of Clackamas County Art Alliance, dianne@clackamasartsalliance.org, for Clackamas County

Read more at Americans for the Arts.

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 Regional Findings:
Oregon Study Regions Comparison

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 Oregon Summary

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 Greater Portland Area Summary

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 Clackamas County Summary

Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 Washington County Summary


Creative Workers Back to Work with the Creative Economy Revitalization Act

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Full bill text can be found here.

Read our previous posts about CERA:

Creative Work is Work

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






Senate Restores NEA Arts Funding for FY’18

Issued by Americans for the Arts on November 20,2017.

Thanks to you and thousands of Arts Action Fund members, we advanced another big victory today in the United States Senate to #SAVEtheNEA. Senate Appropriations Chairman Thad Cochran (R-MS) and Senate Interior Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who received our Congressional Arts Leadership Award this year, soundly rejected President Trump’s attempt to terminate the nation’s cultural agencies by fully restoring FY 2018 arts funding to $150 million for both the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Congress extended its deadline to December 8th to pass legislation to fund government agencies and programs, including the NEA.  At that time, they will need to either pass or further extend that deadline again in order to keep the government running. Other key factors still in play this fall include possible veto threats from the President, focus on tax reform, recovery funding, money to “build a wall,” and not reaching agreement on increasing the looming debt ceiling caps.

We’re close to the finishing line.  Help keep the pressure on Congress. Watch the above one million-plus viewed video featuring members of our Artist Committee speak out and then please come visit our online Action Center to send a message to Congress. See the Arts Action Fund blog for a detailed chart of the Senate-proposed budgets of the various federal arts agencies.