Eloise Damrosch announces retirement

Eloise Damrosch, the executive director of the Regional Arts & Culture Council, has announced her plans to retire on June 30, 2017. From 1987 to 2004, Eloise served as the public art director of RACC and its predecessor organization, The Metropolitan Arts Commission. She was appointed executive director in 2004.

“Eloise’s accomplishments are too many to list,” said RACC board chair Mike Golub. “Inarguably RACC has become a much stronger organization during her tenure. The number of artists, arts organizations and students that we serve has grown exponentially under Eloise’s watch. Our programs and impact on arts and culture in the region have grown dramatically under her stewardship. In short, her impact and imprimatur on the arts community in our region is an indelible one.”

“My time at RACC has been an amazing experience,” said Damrosch. “I have been so fortunate to have worked with smart, talented and creative people internally with our board and staff and externally in the arts and culture, business, government and non-profit communities. Together we have faced challenges and opportunities; celebrated wins; broadened our reach to be ever more inclusive; and pushed ourselves to meet our mission. Happily I will leave RACC with confidence in its future, faith in its staff and board, and a knowledge that our arts and culture community is vibrant and resilient.”

Damrosch has earned a local and national reputation as a respected arts administrator while helping create one of the best-known public art collections in the country. During her tenure of Executive Director, the organization developed an annual workplace giving campaign for the arts, Work for Art; established a comprehensive arts integration program, The Right Brain Initiative; increased the City of Portland and Multnomah County percent-for-art ordinances to 2%; and helped secure the passage of Portland’s voter-approved Arts Tax. Damrosch has also worked closely with RACC’s board of directors to develop a comprehensive agenda for equity and inclusion, transforming the way the organization allocates resources to help ensure that everyone in the region has access to culture and the arts. She is a member of the United States Urban Arts Federation, and recently termed off the Board of the Non-profit Association of Oregon.

RACCs Board of Directors has convened a committee to oversee the search process to find the next Executive Director.  A search firm will be retained in the coming weeks to help conduct the national search.

Company bands invited to Battle on May 17

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) is now accepting registrations for its second annual Battle of the Bands competition slated for Wednesday, May 17, 2017 at the Crystal Ballroom. Eight employee bands, sponsored by their companies, will perform in front of friends, family, co-workers and a panel of celebrity judges as they vie for the title of Best Company Band and other prizes. The event will raise more than $80,000 for RACC’s annual Work for Art campaign.

The debut of Battle of the Bands last year was an unqualified success, attracting seven employee bands, 400 music fans and $70,000 for the cause. Top honors went to Pencil Skirt Paula and The Straight Edge Rulers from ZGF Architects (Best Company Band); Members Only from Kaiser Permanente (Best Showmanship); and Smoke Before Fire from The Standard (Audience Favorite).

While those companies prepare to defend their titles in 2017, five spots remain for the 2017 Battle. Among the rules:

  • In order to perform, companies pay a sponsorship fee of $5,000 or more; sponsorships also include complimentary tickets and other benefits.
  • Spots are offered on a first-come basis. All bands must register by Monday, April 3, 2017.
  • Each band can have between 3-15 members.
  • Bands must be made up mostly of employees working for the sponsoring company; only one musician in each band may be exempted from this requirement.
  • Each band will have 10 minutes to perform, and all genres of music are welcome.

New this year, RACC is providing additional opportunities for local business participation through a lip sync video competition. For more information and application materials, visit http://workforart.org/bob/ or contact Alison Bailey at 503-823-5424.

Work for Art, now in its 11th year, is an annual campaign to raise money and awareness for local arts and culture organizations, primarily through workplace giving and other partnerships with local businesses. The 2017 campaign is led by Kregg Arntson, executive director of the PGE Foundation and director of Corporate Social Responsibility at Portland General Electric. More than 70 companies will participate in this year’s Work for Art campaign, and all proceeds from Work for Art and Battle of the Bands will be granted to approximately 100 nonprofit arts and culture organizations in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties.

Portland City Commissioner Chloe Eudaly and ZGF Principal Sharron van der Meulen are co-chairing the 2017 Battle. Tickets are on sale now for $12 each at The Crystal Ballroom box office, 1332 West Burnside Street in Portland; by phone at 1-855-CAS-TIXX; or online at https://tinyurl.com/jy6pjyg. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for $100 each, including complimentary food and beverage plus reserved seating.


Kalimah Abioto, Artist-in-Residence with Open Signal and RACC, to debut film on First Thursday

PORTLAND, ORE – Open Signal and the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) have partnered to support an artist-in-residence, Kalimah Abioto. The residency is part of Night Lights, a monthly digital media event in which artists project their work onto the north exterior wall of RACC’s downtown offices on First Thursdays. Abioto will produce a new work for the next edition of Night Lights on Thursday, March 2.

A graduate of the film program at Hollins College, Abioto’s work includes experimentally edited short documentaries and narrative films, with a focus on the Portland and Memphis African-American communities.

Through Night Lights, Abioto was granted a stipend of $5,000 from RACC and use of Open Signal media equipment, facilities and training. In November, she used these resources to travel to Mali, West Africa, where she collected video footage in Dogon Country, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Since returning to Portland, Abioto has collaborated with local dancers, musicians, filmmakers and prop-makers to create her Night Lights film entitled Sight. The film tells the story of three young girls with the ability to travel to different dimensions, who help an adult woman to rediscover her own power.

“It’s a film about spirituality—going inside to retrieve your gifts and share them with the world,” Abioto said. “Embracing your shadow, in a way.”

Through her residency, Abioto had access to Open Signal’s equipment and production studios, which she used to create one of the dimensions in Sight. Dancers Uriah Boyd, Akela Jaffi and Mia O’Connor staged a dance alongside the three young leads in Open Signal’s Cyclorama green screen studio, to music written and performed by Abioto’s sister, Amenta Abioto.

“The green screen studio is phenomenal,” Abioto said. “So is having the office space to meet with the team and the talent, as well as access to the equipment—it’s like having a support team.”

Abioto will debut her film at Night Lights on Thursday, March 2, starting at dusk, at the Regional Arts & Culture Council’s north exterior wall, 411 NW Park Avenue in Portland.

Abioto will also share her work in progress during Open Signal’s first Open House on Saturday, February 25 from 4-8 p.m. at 2766 NE MLK Jr. Blvd. in Portland.

On Wednesday, March 22, she will deliver an artist talk in conjunction with her collaborators at Open Signal at 7:00 p.m., screening her film again, discussing her filmmaking process and taking questions from the audience about its inspiration and production.


About Night Lights
Night Lights is a monthly public art event that promotes digital media, urban intervention, and technological innovation. On the First Thursdays of October through April, select artists are able to showcase their work on the north wall of the Regional Arts & Culture Council. Night Lights is a collaboration between Open Signal and RACC.

About Open Signal
Open Signal is a media arts center making media production possible for anyone and everyone in Portland, Oregon. Launched in 2017, the center builds upon the 35-year legacy of Portland Community Media to create a resource totally unique in the Pacific Northwest. Open Signal offers media workshops, an equipment library, artist residencies and programs five cable channels with locally produced content. Open Signal delivers media programming with a commitment to creativity, technology and social change. Learn more at opensignalpdx.org.

About RACC
The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) was established in 1995 and is funded by public and private partners to serve artists, arts organizations, schools and residents throughout Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. RACC provides grants for artists, nonprofit organizations and schools; manages an internationally acclaimed public art program; raises money and awareness for the arts through workplace giving and other programs; convenes forums, networking events and other community gatherings; provides workshops and other forms of technical assistance for artists; and integrates the arts into K-8 curriculum through The Right Brain Initiative. Online at racc.org.

NEA and NEH Letters to the President

ELOISE BLOG: As we know there has been considerable angst and very little reliable information circulating regarding the President’s position on arts and humanities.

As a first step in advocating for these vital organizations Americans for the Arts (AFTA), the national organization focused on arts advocacy, research, and support to the field, has shared a recent letter to the President from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Sen Tom Udall (D-NM) in support of continued funding to the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The twenty-two other Senators that signed include our own Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) and two GOP members, Senators Capito (R-WV) and Collins (R-ME).

There will be many opportunities going forward for advocacy, but I wanted you to see this letter and encourage the signers to press on.

Read the letter here.

Public Art Reboot

On Friday, 2/3 the Northwest Public Art Collective (NoWPAC) – which is comprised of artists, curators and Public Art administrators from the Pacific Northwest – gathered at Portland State University for Public Art Reboot, a day-long series of conversations where the group discussed practices, curation, growth, excellence and new ideas in the field of public art.

Here is a link to photos from the event. (Photos: Intisar Abioto)

NoWPAC facebook page https://www.facebook.com/NowPAC/

Stephanie Simek presents “Table of Elements (and Minerals)” at the Portland Building, February 21 – March 17

PORTLAND, ORE – Drawing on her previous work exploring materials with unusual and interesting physical properties, Stephanie Simek will install her deftly crafted, hand-built “table of holograms” in the Portland Building Installation Space beginning February 21st.

Simek’s project, titled Table of Elements (and Minerals), was designed with the architecture of the Installation Space in mind. Her installation not only serves as a way to engage visitors with a set of optical illusions (illusions that depend on the clever use of optical principles rather than complicated electronics) but it also functions as a conceptual container or vitrine for the artist’s personal table of elements—silicon, quartz, calcite, iron, copper, and bismuth. “It’s a table within a table, a reliquary for various elemental materials with remarkable inherent potential.” Simek says, “Each possesses unusual magnetic, electrical, or optical capabilities, and all have the ability to do work, such as carrying a signal or storing information.”

These familiar, but perhaps under-recognized, minerals have been used by the artist in her past installations to great effect. Those projects include the design and construction of a room-sized crystal radio, an invisibility cloak, a levitating sculpture, and an 8 byte data storage device.

About the Artist: Portland artist Stephanie Simek produces a wide array of work in multiple mediums. She received her BFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University and has shown and performed her work in the Pacific Northwest, New York, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Simek has received two Oregon Arts Commission Career Development Awards and was awarded a Regional Arts & Culture Council Project Grant in 2014. Her work will be included in a two-person show at Oregon State University in 2018.

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. Table of Elements (and Minerals) opens Tuesday, February 21 and runs through Friday, March 17.

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) manages the 13’ x 8’ installation space in the lobby of the Portland Building and presents installation based art there year round. For more information, including images, proposals, and statements for projects dating back to 1994, go to www.racc.org/installationspace.


The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) provides grants for artists, nonprofit organizations and schools in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties; manages an internationally acclaimed public art program; raises money and awareness for the arts through Work for Art; convenes forums, networking events and other community gatherings; provides workshops and other forms of technical assistance for artists; and oversees a program to integrate arts and culture into the standard curriculum in public schools through The Right Brain Initiative. RACC values a diversity of artistic and cultural experiences and is working to build a community in which everyone can participate in culture, creativity and the arts. For more information visit racc.org.

A message from Oregon’s Cultural Advocacy Coalition

Issued on February 8, 2017 by Christine Drazan, Executive Director, Cultural Advocacy Coalition

Last week I sent an email about the state’s daunting $1.8 billion shortfall. This week we have an opportunity to do something about it. Please consider attending a public hearing near you and tell budget-writers to protect arts and culture when they work to balance the budget.

The legislature’s Ways and Means Committee is taking a road trip and traveling across Oregon to invite public comment on possible budget cuts and spending priorities. Concerned Oregonians will be there to speak up for senior services, public safety, education and roads. Will you stand for the arts?

We know that targeted cuts or attempts to tap the Oregon Cultural Trust would deteriorate public funding for arts and culture in Oregon to levels which could cause lasting harm to the state’s cultural ecology.

Given the budget crisis and the risk that arts, humanities and public broadcasting may face at the federal level, we must do all we can to protect current funding for arts and culture here in Oregon.

Please consider voicing your support at one of the following meetings:

Friday, Feb. 10, 2017
5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at:
Oregon State Capitol
Hearing Room F
900 Court Street NE

Saturday, Feb. 11, 2017
12:00 to 2:00 p.m. at:
Portland Community College, Sylvania Campus
Amo DeBernardis College Center
12000 SW 49th Ave.

Friday, Feb. 17, 2017
5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at:
Hermiston High School
Main Commons
600 S 1st Street

Saturday, Feb. 18, 2017
1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at:
Madras Performing Arts Center
412 SE Bluff Street

Friday, February 24, 2017
5:00 to 7:00 p.m. at:
Southern Oregon University
Stevenson Union, Rogue River Room
1250 Siskiyou Blvd.

Saturday, February 25, 2017
1:00 to 3:00 p.m. at:
Lane Community College
Forum (Building 17), Rooms 308-309
4000 E 30th Ave.

Friday, March 3, 2017
6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at:
Port of Tillamook Bay
Officers Mess Hall
6825 Officers Row

Will you help protect public funding for arts, heritage and the humanities in Oregon? Let’s work together to protect the values that connect us, move us forward and enrich our lives. Your voice matters! Legislators are asking to hear from you. Thank you for all you do to support and strengthen creativity and culture in Oregon, and for using this opportunity to tell budget writers we must protect funding for arts and culture in Oregon.

Additional Resources:

  • Big picture on arts and culture in Oregon? Take a look at this.
  • Current arts & culture funding in Oregon? Here you go!
  • Who received arts grants in your community? And how much was the grant? Check here.
  • Have a specific question? Let us know!

Americans for the Arts (AFTA) Statement on Immigration and Refugee Ban

On January 27, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order that denies entrance into the U.S. by immigrant and non-immigrant visitors from seven Muslim-majority nations for 90 days. It also suspends entry of all refugees for 120 days and bars Syrian refugees indefinitely.

Americans for the Arts stands in opposition to policies that limit the free exchange of art, artists, and ideas based on nationality, faith, race, age or ability—and deplores the discriminatory nature of this travel ban. We urge the President to reconsider and rescind this executive order.

Implications for the Arts

The executive order addresses only entry into the U.S., and not the expulsion of those already inside the country. It does, however, mean that those people lawfully here—such as artists from the seven countries who travel to perform, exhibit, and speak internationally—may be unable to return to the U.S. should they leave the country, even if they hold a visa that permits international travel. This will have a harmful effect on scheduled performing arts programming and will interrupt the creation and scholarship of work in progress, such as museum exhibitions.

The Arts Improve International and Cultural Relations

The arts support dialogue, mutual understanding, and build positive relationships between the U.S. and global publics. They help us articulate our own values and beliefs and better understand those of others. Creatively sharing ideas, values, traditions, and other aspects of culture and identity are the very province of the arts.

  • Cultural exchanges: 650 local arts agencies have international programs that involve artists, teachers, students, and even donors (42 percent involve artists from other countries). 1-in-5 local arts agencies have Sister Cities partnerships that employ the arts.  These programs improve mutual understanding and appreciation of our cultures, both here and abroad.
  • Arts as an export industry: U.S. exports of arts goods (e.g., movies, paintings, jewelry) increased from $50.2 to $59.5 billion between 2009 and 2013, up nearly 20 percent. With U.S. arts imports at just $35.3 billion, the arts achieved a $24.1 billion trade surplus in 2013.
  • Tourism: U.S. cultural destinations help grow the economy by attracting foreign visitor spending. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that, between 2003-2015, the percentage of international travelers including “art gallery and museum visits” on their trip grew from 17 to 29 percent, while the share attending “concerts, plays, and musicals” increased from 13 to 16 percent.

You Can Make a Difference

  • Make your voice heard. We are staying in contact with Congress on this issue. You should, too. Join the Arts Action Fund to take political action. It’s free. We will send you alerts so you can respond to decision-makers fast.
  • Register to attend National Arts Advocacy Day on March 20-21 in Washington, D.C. where you can add your voice in person.
  • Inform us of any specific actions impacting the arts in your community as a result of the President’s new executive order.  (Email Ruby Harper at rharper@artsusa.org).
  • Tell your story about the power of the arts! The former President of South Africa, F.W. DeKlerk, once told the U.S. Secretary of State that it was his cultural diplomacy visit to the U.S. that changed his ideas about a multiracial democracy. He subsequently released Nelson Mandela from prison and they began the country’s transformation. The arts promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.
  • You are not alone. Our national arts partner, the U.S. Conference of Mayors, released a powerful statement of their support for refugees and immigrants.  It also includes dozens of statements by mayors from across the country.