Reflections, Lessons, and Projections

by Jeff Hawthorne
Interim Executive Director

June is coming to an end, and so too is RACC’s 2017-2018 fiscal year. Now is a good moment, before a new fiscal year begins on July 1, to ruminate on RACC’s past and present, and what that means for our future.

A year ago this week, we celebrated the accomplishments of our retiring executive director, and prepared to launch a national search for her replacement. Even as this transition phase continues, RACC has shown that it is leader-full, confidently moving forward as the search goes on. Throughout this shift, I have been impressed time and again with the board’s profound dedication to the organization, and the staff’s drive to lead innovations that make our work more effective, accessible, and impactful than ever before.

Some of the staff-led accomplishments of the past year that I’m particularly proud of include:

  • Our grantmaking program launched two new initiatives: a Capacity Building Program for culturally specific organizations, and additional Equity Investments for General Operating Support organizations that are making real progress diversifying their staff, board, and audiences.
  • RACC revamped the Art of Leadership program to better align with the needs of small and midsize arts and culture organizations, resulting in the program’s highest attendance ever – with 63 graduates this past spring.
  • We continue to facilitate public art projects, including three collaborations with Portland Parks this past year – two of which were in East Portland. Big projects are also getting underway at the Multnomah County Health Department and with the renovation of the Portland Building… stay tuned!
  • Our Fresh Paint temporary mural program invited its first three muralists of color to paint Open Signal’s wall facing the highly visible Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd., and we collaborated with Prosper Portland to install murals by Eatcho and Arvie Smith at the new Natural Grocers store on NE Alberta St depicting Northeast Portland’s African American history, present, and future – check out the video.
  • RACC’s arts integration program, The Right Brain Initiative, continues to expand but with a new focus on serving schools where the achievement gaps are greatest – specifically schools where 30 percent or more of the population are students of color, English language learners, low-income and/or in neighborhoods with limited arts resources nearby.
  • RACC continues working to build better relationships with marginalized communities, and our community engagement team has been listening to shape RACC’s program delivery model as a result. This past year, staff launched the Art & Power conversation series that centers the experiences of artists from historically marginalized communities with topics ranging from cultural appropriation to the healing power of the arts.

We’ve also had learning moments. As an organization advocating for and supporting artists, we take continuous feedback and improvement seriously. This past year, we’ve done some new things or made changes based on feedback we received from community members, artists, and arts institutions. Some highlights include: conducting a survey with all General Operating Support organizations and restructuring how organizations are funded; adding more project grant application cycles per year to address artists’ needs; modifying our executive director search process based on community feedback; and developing policies and programs aligned with our equity lens.

RACC is stronger and more committed than ever as we continue working to enrich our communities through arts and culture. In a region that is ever-changing and growing, we keep the community’s arts and cultural needs first and foremost in our mind as we move through changes of our own.

Going forward, we have work to do to build deeper relationships with our government partners, and will be rolling out a new grantmaking framework for General Operating Support organizations in the months ahead. We are also in the process of revamping our fundraising programs in response to funding cuts, and pledge to reinvigorate RACC’s role in building a strong arts and culture advocacy network.

This September, RACC will present its annual State of the Arts report to Portland City Council. Some of our report will focus on these accomplishments, but it is also incumbent upon us to remind City Council of the real and persistent challenges we face as artists and arts workers. I’d love to hear about your success stories from the past year, and your perception of what’s working and what’s not. Please help us inventory the unmet needs that you experience or observe in our local arts community by dropping me a line at jhawthorne@racc.org with your thoughts.

From myself and all of us at the Regional Arts & Culture Council, thank you for supporting our work and holding RACC and our government partners accountable for more equitable investments in our community of artists, arts educators, and nonprofit organizations. We look forward to building even more with you in the year ahead.

RACC supports 88 upcoming artistic projects with $444,861 in funding

RACC has awarded $444,861 in project grants to 43 artists and 45 nonprofit organizations. These grants are funded by a combination of public and private investments, including the City of Portland’s general fund, the city’s Arts Tax, Multnomah County, Clackamas County, Washington County and Metro. Additional funding comes from RACC’s workplace giving campaign, Work for Art, and proceeds from RACC’s summer fundraising event, “In the Garden of Artistic Delights.”

“There are so many creative ways that local artists and nonprofit organizations are building connections between cultures, entertaining and inspiring us, and addressing important civic issues,” said interim executive director Jeff Hawthorne. “We are thrilled to invest in such a wide variety of projects, and I am especially delighted to see that 65% of the individuals receiving awards this year, and 27% of the organizations, are first-time Project Grant recipients. That’s a great reflection of our ever-evolving community.”

As part of its ongoing focus on equity and inclusion, RACC has established a goal of directing at least 30% of its programs and resources to culturally specific communities and people of color. In this round of project grant awards, 29% of the funded individual artists identify as people of color—the largest percentage since RACC began tracking this data in 2010. RACC is still working to quantify the cultural identity of organizations and to measure the demographics of their audiences.

“We are excited to be making progress,” Hawthorne said, “but there is still much work to do.”

A total of 197 grant requests were evaluated by peer review panelists who were organized by discipline and tasked to assess the artistic merit, public access, community impact and financial viability of each proposal. “We continue to engage new community members in our grant review process,” said Helen Daltoso, RACC’s grants director. “This year 32 artists, arts administrators and creatives participated in nine panels, and the vast majority of them were new to this role. We couldn’t do this work without them.”

The RACC Board of Directors unanimously approved all panel recommendations on December 13, with awards in three categories: Artistic Focus, Arts Equity & Access, and Arts Services.

Artistic Focus projects help artists realize their vision, and help organizations support their artistic mission. Examples funded in this round include $6,150 for Ropa Vieja, a fashion show and book launch presented by the multicultural collaboration “cvllejerx,” Angelica Milan and Maximiliano Martinez; $1,315 for Stacey Tran’s ongoing storytelling series Tender Table about food, family, and identity featuring women and gender non-conforming people of color; and $4,815 to Corrib Theatre for their production of Quietly, a play presenting a powerful scenario of truth and resolution in present day Northern Ireland.

Arts Equity & Access grants support programs and services with a strong community engagement component, including festivals, arts education projects, and programs that expand arts experiences for underserved communities. World Stage Theatre is receiving $6,500 to lead a city-wide Black History Festival in February in locations spanning as far east as Troutdale and west to Beaverton. Jeffrey Thompson will be leading his “Stay Sharp” drawing for life workshops at an assisted living facility in North Portland for seniors with his award of $5,596. Pacific Youth Choir will continue their outreach choir classes at two neighborhood elementary schools with their $6,500 award, with high school age student mentors, field trips, and a series of concerts.

Arts Services grants include projects that provide professional development opportunities for the arts community, including workshops or conferences. In this category, PDX Puppet Collective and the Secret Knowledge conference will be receiving funding to provide training programs that provide artistic growth for participants.

Project grants, which had been offered only once a year, are now available three times per year. The next project grant deadline is February 7. Grant orientations to be held: 1/18, 25, 30, 31. The next project grant deadline is February 7. Guidelines and orientation RSVP can be accessed at

A complete list of project grants appears below, and more detailed summaries of each grant are available at http://bit.ly/2CBoGra (PDF).

RACC project grants for individuals, December 2017

Note: (*) denotes Clackamas County applicants, and (**) denotes Washington County based applicants.  All other applicants are based in Multnomah County

Submission Title Project Type Discipline Award
Ezekiel Brown Artistic Focus Media Arts $5,600
Tamara Carroll Artistic Focus Theatre $5,120
Srijon Chowdhury Artistic Focus Visual Arts $6,300
Kindra Crick Artistic Focus Visual Arts $5,569
Lori Damiano Artistic Focus Literature $3,750
Marico Fayre Artistic Focus Visual Arts $4,285
Josh Feinberg ** Artistic Focus Music $5,600
Jon Garcia Artistic Focus Media Arts $7,000
Jared Goodman Artistic Focus Multi-Discipline $1,715
Allie Hankins Artistic Focus Multi-Discipline $3,943
Megan Hanley Artistic Focus Visual Arts $3,222
Wayne Harrel Artistic Focus Theatre $4,474
John Akira Harrold Artistic Focus Multi-Discipline $5,216
Megan Haupt Artistic Focus Music $6,300
Jennifer Kim Arts Equity & Access Literature $5,250
kathleen Lane Arts Equity & Access Literature $5,292
Shayla Lawson Artistic Focus Multi-Discipline $5,165
Tonya Macalino ** Artistic Focus Literature $3,642
Elizabeth Malaska Artistic Focus Visual Arts $5,250
Christine Martell ** Arts Equity & Access Visual Arts $5,560
maximiliano martinez Artistic Focus Visual Arts $5,900
Angelica Millan Artistic Focus Multi-Discipline $6,150
Matthew Minicucci Artistic Focus Literature $5,929
Stephen O’Donnell Artistic Focus Multi-Discipline $5,250
Gabe Ostley ** Artistic Focus Literature $4,725
Jayanthi Raman ** Artistic Focus Dance/Movement $5,440
Kaia Sand Artistic Focus Multi-Discipline $6,300
Bryan Smith Artistic Focus Multi-Discipline $4,200
Jennifer Springsteen Artistic Focus Literature $3,096
Melanie Stevens Artistic Focus Visual Arts $3,825
Jack StockLynn Artistic Focus Multi-Discipline $6,339
Shilpa Sunthankar ** Artistic Focus Media Arts $5,600
Norman Sylvester Arts Equity & Access Music $6,300
Ariella Tai Artistic Focus Media Arts $5,250
Kim Taylor Blakemore Artistic Focus Literature $3,123
Barbara Tetenbaum Artistic Focus Multi-Discipline $7,000
Jeffery Thompson Arts Equity & Access Visual Arts $5,596
Stacey Tran Artistic Focus Social Practice $1,315
Danielle Weathers ** Artistic Focus Theatre $5,600
Damaris Webb Artistic Focus Theatre $6,006
Ezra Weiss ** Artistic Focus Music $4,360
Ryan Woodring Artistic Focus Media Arts $3,908
Jennifer Wright Artistic Focus Music $4,500


RACC project grants for organizations, December 2017

Note: (*) denotes Clackamas County applicants, and (**) denotes Washington County based applicants.  All other applicants are based in Multnomah County.

Submission Title Project Type Discipline Award
Architecture Foundation of Oregon Arts Equity & Access Visual Arts $6,282
Art Gym at Marylhurst University * Artistic Focus Visual Arts $5,600
Artback * Artistic Focus Visual Arts $4,500
A-WOL Dance Collective Artistic Focus Dance/Movement $5,600
Beaverton Civic Theatre ** Arts Equity & Access Theatre $5,448
Big Horn Brass * Artistic Focus Music $2,828
Boom Arts Inc. Artistic Focus Theatre $7,000
Caldera Arts Equity & Access Visual Arts $5,120
Choral Arts Ensemble Artistic Focus Music $3,000
Circus Cascadia Arts Equity & Access Folk Arts $5,250
Classical Up Close ** Arts Equity & Access Music $5,600
Corrib Theatre Artistic Focus Theatre $4,815
Creative Music Guild Artistic Focus Music $2,700
defunkt theatre Artistic Focus Theatre $6,039
Disability Art and Culture Project Arts Equity & Access Media Arts $5,100
en Taiko Arts Equity & Access Music $6,300
Fear No Music Artistic Focus Music $6,300
India Cultural Association ** Arts Equity & Access Multi-Discipline $3,600
Live On Stage Artistic Focus Theatre $5,159
Mask and Mirror Community Theatre ** Arts Equity & Access Theatre $4,128
Media Project Artistic Focus Media Arts $5,250
Northwest Animation Festival Artistic Focus Media Arts $6,300
Pacific Northwest College of Art Artistic Focus Multi-Discipline $7,000
Pacific Youth Choir Arts Equity & Access Music $6,500
People-Places-Things  LLC Arts Equity & Access Literature $2,160
Portland Chamber Music Artistic Focus Music $2,300
Portland Community College Artistic Focus Literature $1,675
PETE (Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble) Artistic Focus Theatre $7,000
Portland Puppet Lab/PDX Puppet Collective * Arts Services Theatre $4,170
Prequel Artist Program Artistic Focus Visual Arts $3,488
push/FOLD Artistic Focus Dance/Movement $5,250
QDoc: Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival Artistic Focus Media Arts $7,000
Risk/Reward Artistic Focus Multi-Discipline $7,000
Rock Dojo Arts Equity & Access Music $5,108
Secret Knowledge Arts Services Multi-Discipline $5,250
Signal Fire Artistic Focus Literature $5,250
The Library Foundation Arts Equity & Access Multi-Discipline $6,300
The Old Church Society  Inc. Arts Equity & Access Social Practice $5,250
The Vanport Mosaic Arts Equity & Access Multi-Discipline $5,600
Viva La Free Arts Equity & Access Theatre $5,536
Washington County Cooperative Library Services ** Arts Equity & Access Multi-Discipline $5,600
Water in the Desert Artistic Focus Multi-Discipline $6,300
Willamette Light Brigade Artistic Focus Multi-Discipline $4,580
World Stage Theatre Arts Equity & Access Multi-Discipline $6,500
Zoulful Muzic Artistic Focus Theatre $4,160

Art Spark on July 21

Art Spark is back the evening of of July 21st, 6-9 p.m. Join us for another evening of education and celebration. This time we will be located at Disjecta Contemporary Arts Center (8371 N Interstate Ave​) for an indoor/outdoor event.

Enjoy the summer vibes and learn about community partners DUG (Deep Underground), Just Seeds, and more!

Connect with Portland Emerging Arts Leaders (PEAL) and network with Portland creatives.

As always, our Art Spark DJ, VNPRT will be providing the the music. “Like” Art Spark by RACC on Facebook to get new information on the event as it is announced.

Event is all ages and free.  We Look forward to seeing you there!

See details at http://bit.ly/2s3h1vZ

Summer events celebrate Eloise’s legacy

We invite the community to join us for two events honoring Eloise Damrosch, who will retire as RACC’s executive director on June 30. A free community event will take place on June 29, and a fundraising event to support local artists is scheduled for July 30.

  • On Thursday, June 29, join us for an open house and block party with music, food, drinks and entertainment – plus a special ceremony honoring Eloise. Scheduled performers include drummers and dancers from NAYA, Joaquin Lopez, Unit Souzou and Portland Lee Association Dragan and Lion Dance Team. This event is free and open to the public; RSVP here.
  • On Sunday, July 30, RACC presents In the Garden of Artistic Delights, a benefit for individual artists and a tribute to Eloise. This event is sponsored in part by Arlene Schnitzer, and takes place at Bella Madrona Gardens in Sherwood. Tickets are $150 each and include paella dinner, hosted beverages, entertainment and a brief live auction. Only 200 tickets are available for this limited capacity event; visit  gardenofartisticdelights.org for tickets and information.

Executive Director search update

The search committee has been finalized. The members are:

We continue to encourage broad community participation in our Executive Director Search Survey, open through May 10. An executive summary of our findings will be posted on this page shortly thereafter.


Previous updates:

POSTED ON APRIL 18, 2017 AT 9:12 AM.

The RACC search committee has hired executive search firm Aspen Leadership Group to lead the process to find the successor to outgoing executive director Eloise Damrosch, who will be retiring June 30. The committee considered several search firms and was most impressed with Aspen’s diversity experience, extensive network and impressive track record of high level arts searches, including many successful arts appointments in Oregon.

Aspen Leadership Group’s lead project manager, Anne Johnson, will be in Portland on May 1 and 2 to meet the Search Committee and representatives of RACC staff and the arts community to begin the formal due diligence process. In addition the search committee has just released an online questionnaire, open to anybody interested in providing input on the search for RACC’s next Executive Director. You can participate in the survey here.


POSTED ON MARCH 29, 2017 AT 12:37 PM.

With the retirement of our longtime executive director Eloise Damrosch, the RACC board has begun the process of finding her successor. We are committed to a transparent and inclusive search process resulting in the appointment of an outstanding individual to lead RACC into the future and continue to realize our mission of enriching our communities through arts and culture.

The RACC Board has appointed a Search Committee to steward the process of identifying and hiring the new executive director. In April the Search Committee will select an executive search firm who will help us manage the process of identifying, screening, interviewing and recruiting the new ED from a wide and diverse pool of candidates.

In the coming weeks we will be sharing in this space and in correspondence with our many constituents, the job posting, job description and ways to provide input on the search and selection process. There will be many opportunities for comment and suggestions, including a questionnaire, direct contact with the search committee at EDsearch@racc.org and regular progress reports in our newsletter and on the RACC website.

Once a finalist or finalists have been chosen there will be opportunities for community members to meet them and provide feedback to the Search Committee before a final choice is made. We are hopeful to have a new executive director in place late Summer or Early Fall.

We thank you for your ongoing support of RACC and our wonderful arts and culture community. We are excited about this new chapter of RACC and are grateful for your interest and input.



RACC’s executive director Eloise Damrosch announces plans to retire June 30. Read the press release here.

4/24 Advocacy Day 2017

This is a challenging time for arts and culture. Budgets are tight at the state level and federal funding is in jeopardy.
We must work together to defend arts, heritage and the humanities in our state legislature.

Join us for Advocacy Day 2017! We need your voice and your passion! Join us for advocacy training, meetings with elected leaders and an opportunity to meet with your legislators.

Advocacy Day 2017

Oregon State Capitol
Hearing Room 50
Salem, OR
REGISTER for Advocacy Day with the Cultural Advocacy Coalition

Celebrating the Art of Leadership class of 2016-17

On March 1, 2017  RACC celebrated the 2016-17 Art of Leadership cohort with a graduation reception sponsored by Columbia Trust Company. This year’s cohort participated in six half-day workshops from October through March, helping participants become board members for local nonprofit arts organizations. The series covers topics from finances to fundraising, strategic development to legal issues, helping participants develop leadership skills, network with business and arts leaders, and get matched with arts organizations closely aligned with their own interests and experience.

Congratulations to our graduates:

Eric Block, Metropolitan Group
Rodrigo Diaz, Portland Community College
Gillian Eubanks, Columbia Trust Company
Robert Hermanson, Retired Architect
Erin Hopkins, Sage Hospitality
Kathy Jennings, Portland Timbers/Thorns
Candace Kita, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO)
Shayda Le, Barran Liebman LLP
Nnenna Lewis, Downtown Clean and Safe/ Portland Business Alliance
Jeffrey Martin, Portland Playhouse
Ben Mathias, Perkins & Co.
Michael Miller, Michael R. Miller, CPA
Jacob O’Brien, XPLANE
Darcy Peart, U. S. Bank
Scott Peters, Boeing Company
Steve Price
Ryan Quarberg, Boeing
Inna Schwab, KPMG
Christine Stehr, US Bank
Brian Sweeney, BPS Architecture
James Ward, A-dec, Inc
Sara Watts, Self Employed

The 2016-17 Art of Leadership program was sponsored by The Boeing Company, with additional support from Barran Liebman, Columbia Bank, Perkins & Co., Tonkon Torp LLP and U.S. Bank.

To learn more, including how to be part of the 2017-18 series that begins next fall, contact abailey@racc.org.

Using Theatre to Change the Racial Ecology of Portland

By Bonnie Ratner, August Wilson Red Door Project

Is it possible you missed Hands Up in 2016?  If so, you missed a powerful and relevant production and post show conversations that moved Portland’s discussions about diversity to a whole new level. Five thousand Portlanders, both traditional and non-traditional theatre-goers, saw Hands Up in theatres, community centers, schools and colleges.  Hands Up is a presentation of the August Wilson Red Door Project, whose mission is to change the racial ecology of Portland through the arts.

Kevin Jones, CEO and Founder of the Red Door Project

Directed by Kevin Jones, CEO and Founder of the Red Door, and a critically acclaimed actor and director, Hands Up is a set of seven monologues originally commissioned by The New Black Fest in New York City. The curator at New Black Fest asked seven accomplished playwrights: “What do the police shootings of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, John Crawford III in Beavercreek, Ohio, and others bring up for you?”  The result is seven autobiographical monologues crafted together to take the audience on a provocative journey of self-discovery.

Jones said he wanted to bring Hands Up to Portland because of the artistic quality of the piece and because it aligns so well with the Red Door mission. “Portland has a healthy natural environment,” he said, “but it has a lot of work to do to create a healthier racial or social environment, a city where everyone can thrive.”

When Hands Up first opened, it played to about 50 people, but it didn’t take long before audiences reached 300.  Those audiences were diverse in terms of race, ethnicity, age and class — an uncommon mix for Portland and a demonstration of changing the social ecology by “mixing it up” for shared experiences.

The philanthropic community responded to the success and potential of Hands Up and the model that keeps performances at no cost to individual audience members.  RACC, Multnomah County, The Collins Foundation, Meyer Memorial Trust, Oregon Community Foundation and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation all have contributed to Hands Up.


Hands Up has had a major impact on audiences and local organizations. Director Jones thinks this impact is possible in theatre in a way that is not available in traditional diversity, equity and inclusion trainings, even ones that are designed to be interactive, because the artistic experience permeates audience consciousness.  “As a diversity consultant and theatre professional for over thirty years, I can tell you that theatre is a much stronger and more effective way to have impact,” he said. Jones added that it has to do with “provocation,” the kind of provocation that happens in theatre between the actors and the audience. “Involved in theatre, in this mechanism of artistic expression, an audience can be provoked and disturbed, but it is also protected.  As audience members, we can watch someone get shot on stage and have an experience of that shooting and we can accept it, question it, contemplate it, learn from it—all simultaneously.”


Jones begins every performance of Hands Up by saying to the audience: “We’re not asking for your agreement.  This really is not about your opinion. We’re asking you to understand that these are the real-life experiences of thoughtful law-abiding human beings. These are their experiences over a lifetime of reacting, contemplating, avoiding, second guessing and wishing it would go away. This repetition has infiltrated the psyche of our culture, the African American culture.  So, watch it from that perspective.  Experience it from that perspective. And then let’s talk.”

Then the lights go out, and an actor stands on the stage (sometimes a formal theatre; other times, a community venue) and tells you some truth.  The audience sits in the dark, and through the rite that still gives theatre much of its potency, a community emerges with a common purpose: to listen, to learn, to feel. For the next ninety minutes, the audience witnesses stories that are deeply personal, deeply painful, and told directly and intimately.

There’s a good chance that white audience members have never heard these stories first hand. The truth is that most white people don’t know how to make friends with people who are different from them. There are so many barriers:  Fear of hurting feelings. Not knowing what is “correct.”  Too busy managing everyday life to put in the time and effort at what seems like a monumental task. Afraid of acknowledging conscious and unconscious biases, a sense of superiority, a fear of the other, of being uncomfortable, of not being the good white person in the room.

People of color in the audience, especially black people, have an opportunity to reflect, to hear the invitation to heal, to embrace the parts of themselves that have been neglected because they’re focused on fighting off the external forces that are causing the trauma, and trying to understand the effect of that trauma over the course of a lifetime.  Black people also might be wondering how all this truth is going to shake out. Do white people really know what goes on?  And if they’re finding all this out now, what’s it going to be like when the lights come up?  Was it a good idea to come to this play after all?

All this is understandable and natural in our segregated city, even as it needs to change. But the power of Hands Up is that even as these thoughts, concerns and fears race through minds, the stories on the stage draw the audience in, and when the lights come up, all have survived: The black actors who once again risked all that pain to tell the truth; the people of color in the audience who have seen themselves reflected in their full humanity and have felt a collective breath of empathy coming from their fellow audience members; and the white folks who feel vulnerable and realize that this new vulnerability didn’t kill them after all. Letting in another human being with another story, a different story from their own, doesn’t detract from character or status. Empathy for another person doesn’t make us less than we are.


When the production is over, Red Door Founders Kevin Jones and Lesli Mones ask the audience a simple question:  “Okay, how do you feel?”  Not what do you think or what is your racial analysis or what have you read on the subject?  But, simply, “How do you feel?”  And from that simple truth, said Jones, “We begin to heal. Hands Up shifts the conversations that can be had in communities because the truth of the play and the immediacy of its portrayal have created a kind of intimacy among people who were strangers ninety minutes before when they sat down together in the dark. Something has cracked open, and there remains a sense of empathy and the possibility of a way forward.”  Audience members agree, calling the experience “transformative” and “unforgettable” and “necessary.”


Hands Up is a different theatre model.  The Red Door offers performances at no cost to audience members.  Community partners host performances, engage their constituencies, and help to facilitate talkbacks. Partners include organizations from the nonprofit, education, private and government sectors.  Significantly, the Red Door has performed Hands Up for the Portland Police Department and engaged in deep and productive conversations revealing truths from multiple perspectives. Other partners include the NAACP, YWCA, Wieden and Kennedy, Portland State University and funders.  Kevin Jones further explains the model and how the Red Door thinks about systems change:

“If you partner with the Red Door, you’ll hear about making change from a systems theory perspective, and this theory applies to everything on our planet. Everything is a system, and all systems have boundaries. All systems protect, expand and evolve. It is the boundary that protects. The boundary maintains the mechanisms that keep the system intact.  The system maintains homeostasis with its environment.  But when things aren’t working in a system, it needs feedback so it can evolve. Feedback informs the boundary. When homeostasis is threatened, it is the boundary that is called upon to be more permeable so change can happen.  Our culture is a system, all our institutions are systems and all of us, all people, are systems.  That’s a lot of boundaries and a lot of necessary protection to keep things working.  But it’s also a lot of feedback that’s necessary to move us along, to bring necessary change.  Hands Up and the conversations that follow, conversations that don’t blame but seek to deepen understanding so the feedback can get in, enable the possibility of change for systems that are stuck. We believe this is, and has always been, an important function of art and artists.  If you’re ready to partner with us, or just curious, email us at info@reddoorproject.org

The August Wilson Red Door Project’s


Superiority Fantasy by Nathan James
Holes in My Identity by Nathan Yungerberg
They Shootin! Or I Ain’t Neva Scared… by Idris Goodwin
Dead of Night… The Execution of… by Nambi E. Kelley
Abortion by Nsangou Njikam
Walking Next to Michael Brown by Eric Holmes
How I Feel by Dennis Allen II


The August Wilson Red Door Project brings Hands Up back in 2017 and has announced initial performance dates in conjunction with two community partners:

Friendly House on May 13 at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
Wieden & Kennedy on May 27 at 7:30 p.m. and May 28 at 2:00 p.m.

There is no cost for these performances, but reservations are required and can be made as of April 15th at boxoffice@reddoorproject.org. For more information: reddoorproject.org/handsup.