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.

“Visual Chronicle of Portland” exhibition opens at the Portland Building, March 28 – April 21

PORTLAND, ORE – A special exhibition focusing on new acquisitions to the Visual Chronicle of Portland collection opens at the Portland Building on March 28th. The Visual Chronicle of Portland, a collection of original works-on-paper that portray artists’ perceptions of what makes Portland unique, has been steadily growing since its inception in 1985 and now boasts 356 works by over 200 different artists. RACC normally rotates sets of work from this well regarded city-owned collection throughout public spaces in City of Portland and Multnomah County facilities, but this special exhibition offers the public a unique chance to see these recent acquisitions from the 2016/17 purchase in one place.

About the Artists: The Visual Chronicle strives to reflect a diversity of populations, artistic disciplines, and points of view; it represents a living archive that seeks to honestly document life in our city through the eyes of the artists who live here. RACC is committed to engaging and expanding the communities of artists and the range of artistic and cultural expression that it represents. The artists represented in this recent purchase include:

Holly Andres Kristin Kohl
Bobby Abrahamson Eva Lake
Heather Lee Birdsong Christopher Mooney
Alison Foshee Steven Slappe
Joseph Glode Mami Takahashi
Bryan David Griffith

To browse the collection on line visit the RACC website: Public Art Search

Viewing Hours & Location: The Portland Building is located at 1120 SW 5th Avenue in downtown Portland and is open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday. This exhibition of new acquisitions from the Visual Chronicle of Portland opens Tuesday, March 28th and runs through Friday, April 21st. The exhibition is free and open to the public.


My post today will not be breaking news to followers of the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, but grassroots advocacy is essential over the next few months. While Oregon is lucky to have an arts supportive – even passionate – Congressional delegation, we all must make our voices heard that the President’s budget proposal is unacceptable.  And also please thank our Representatives and Senators for past support. Their offices need to be flooded!


The White House has released its proposed budget to Congress, officially recommending full termination of funding of both the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) for FY2018. This is the first American President in history to propose zeroing out all funding for the nation’s federal cultural agencies.

Eliminating the NEA would be a devastating blow to the arts in America. For more than 50 years, the NEA has expanded access to the arts for all Americans, awarding grants in every Congressional district throughout all 50 states and U.S. Territories as well as placing arts therapists in 12 military hospitals to help returning soldiers heal from traumatic brain injuries. The NEA is also an economic powerhouse, generating more than $600 million annually in additional matching funds and helping to shape a $730 billion arts and culture industry that represents 4.2% of the nation’s GDP and supports 4.8 million jobs.

The federal appropriations process does not end here. We now begin a concerted grassroots effort to convince Congress to #SaveTheNEA. Here are the actions you can take right now:

  1. The most important thing you can do is to take two minutes to send a customizable message to your elected representatives in Congress and urge them to oppose any attempt to eliminate or cut funding to the NEA.
  2. Post on Facebook and Twitter to help rally national support to save the NEA. There is strength in numbers and your social media friends can help.
  3. Contribute to the Arts Action Fund to help ensure we have the resources to maintain our grassroots arts network.

PLEASE HELP! The road forward will be filled with horse-trading. Republican led Congresses have saved both agencies from extinction before. We cannot let this slip through.

Thank you for joining us.

Next up at the Portland Building: Recent additions to the Visual Chronicle of Portland, March 27 – April 21, 2017

A special exhibition focusing on new acquisitions to the Visual Chronicle of Portland opens at the Portland Building on March 27th. The Visual Chronicle of Portland, a collection of original works-on-paper that portray artists’ perceptions of what makes Portland unique, has been steadily growing since its inception in 1985 and now boasts 356 works by over 200 different artists. Sets of individual works from the Chronicle are regularly displayed in various public spaces in the City of Portland and Multnomah County, but this special exhibition offers viewers a unique chance to see these recent acquisitions in one place.

The Visual Chronicle of Portland strives to reflect a diversity of populations, artistic disciplines, and points of view, it represents a living archive, and RACC is committed to engaging and expanding the communities of artists and the range of artistic and cultural expression that it represents.

Viewing Hours & Location: The Portland Building is located at 1120 SW 5th Avenue in downtown Portland and is open 8 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday. The Visual Chronicle of Portland exhibit will end April 21, 2017.

To browse the collection on line visit the RACC website: Public Art Search.


Regional Arts & Culture Council welcomes new board members

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) board of directors has welcomed four new members. They include:

  • Eve Connell is a writer, editor and trainer of professionals in communications. She is the managing editor of University of Hell Press and visiting professor for various MA/MFA/MBA programs in California and Oregon, including OCAC and PNCA.


  • Katherine Durham is vice president, Individual Disability Insurance and Corporate Marketing & Communications, for Standard Insurance Company. Durham’s experience includes 20 years as a leader in a variety of positions in both start-up and Fortune 500 companies.


  • Frances Portillo of Portillo Consulting, International is an international independent consultant specializing in Cross-Cultural Communication, Social and Emotional Intelligence and Conflict Resolution. She has worked in over 33 countries as a presenter, trainer, facilitator and coach.


  • James Smith is a member of the Fort Peck Sioux Tribe of Montana and a descendant of the Warm Springs Tribe of Oregon. He is currently a Financial Analyst for Morrison Child & Family Services, and volunteers as Treasurer for the Concerned Indian Community

RACC board officers include Mike Golub, board chair; Phillip T. Hillaire, vice chair; Eileen L. Day, treasurer; Steve Rosenbaum, secretary and Jan Robertson, chair emeritus.

Other continuing RACC Board members include Nik Blosser, Verlea G. Briggs, Raymond C. Cheung, CPA, Representative Lew Frederick, Debbie Glaze, Osvaldo ‘Ozzie’ Gonzalez, Angela Hult, Dana Ingram, Susheela Jayapal, Parker Lee, Linda McGeady, Brenda L. Meltebeke, Anita Menon, Mitchell Nieman, Joanna Priestley, Shyla M. Spicer and Anita Yap.

Board and staff profiles are available online at racc.org/about/staff-board.