RACC Blog

Regional Arts & Culture Council’s What’s Next Survey Summary

What’s Next: Connecting artists and creatives to opportunity and access

What's Next Respondents

What’s Next Respondents

Over a year and half ago, the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) reached out early on during the COVID-19 shutdown to our community and stakeholders to ask what their needs were during this extremely challenging time. Administered in 2020, the What’s Next survey sought to understand the types of support that the arts community most needed to survive and thrive during the pandemic and what it would need to recover. A total of 392 people responded to our survey, 63% of respondents identifying as artists. (Read the What’s Next Survey Summary for a visual breakdown summary of respondents and findings. Note: the report was published in May of 2021 and contains opinions, language, and information that has since been addressed by RACC. Clarification is indicated by brackets.)

You can read full results and report here.

 

Key Findings and Highlights

The following are key highlights and some findings, along with a summary of the initiatives RACC implemented to address these answers and continue to inform our future plans. Full results from the 2020 What’s Next survey can be found here

The What’s Next survey centered around themes of support, service, engagement, and connection during the early period of the shutdown, a time when the creative sector was hit hard by the impact of the global pandemic and successive shutdowns. RACC was interested in understanding how we could support and build resilience for the challenges, changes, and opportunities that would, and still do, lay ahead of us. With a commitment to equity and access, we intentionally sought to gather information on how best to support artists of color and others marginalized by traditional and mainstream support systems. 

The survey results revealed that the most critical needs across all respondents were as follows (language pulled from the original survey and answers given by respondents, listed here in order of importance determined by the frequency of each response):

  • Funding
    There remains an overwhelming need for arts funding in the region as organizations and individual artists face extreme challenges resulting from the Covid pandemic and struggle to remain financially viable.
  • Professional Development
    Training, professional development, collaboration, and mentorship opportunities remain essential, especially with the need to reinvent and reimagine the ways in which art is presented during and while recovering from a pandemic with limited in-person gatherings.
  • Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion [and Advocacy]
    More than ever before support is needed for inclusion of local artists from underrepresented groups and those who work in unconventional art genres. Outreach efforts are essential to attract and retain more diverse audiences.
  • Space [both physical and time/ability to work]
    A shortage of spaces, both physical and mental, was highlighted by respondents as a challenge to surviving and thriving in the past and still current environment. Physical spaces have been lost due to rising rents and limitations on in-person capacity. Reductions in mental space for creativity and networking opportunities have been difficult.
  • Connection
    Community-building is essential in the arts and respondents found it lacking here in Portland. It was indicated that collaboration is needed now more than ever. New ways to engage communities need consideration and are required.
  • Marketing Support
    Artists and arts organizations need assistance with advertising, marketing, and promotion in order to help recover from the ongoing pandemic losses. Reaching and engaging an audience is complicated with the ebb and flow of restrictions more than ever.

Responses from a combination of participants indicated an overwhelming need for funding to ensure viability as well as a sustainable future. Artists needed income and arts organizations needed patrons to survive the pandemic restrictions.

“Without audiences or with limited ones, operational funds are the highest priority, to avoid cultural organizations totally going under and disappearing.”

Apart from asking respondents about the most helpful financial support needs, the What’s Next survey also asked respondents to identify their top future professional development priorities to help RACC focus its resources to best meet the needs of the arts community.

Artists Identified:
Survey participants were given a list of possible professional development, technical support, or other related services and asked to identify which ones would be most helpful in the next 6-18 months.

  1. Social Media and marketing support (35%) 
  2. One-on-one coaching with RACC staff or other professional (28%) 
  3. Skill development workshops (25%) 
  4. Review and feedback of draft proposals (22%) 
  5. Post-decision feedback (22%) 
Artists Professional Development

Artists Professional Development

Arts Organizations Identified:
Survey participants were given a list of possible professional development, technical support, or other related services and asked to identify which ones would be most helpful in the next 6-18 months.

  1. Skill development (34%) 
  2. Coordinated political advocacy (29%) [RACC as guide for calls to action and coordination]
  3. One-on-one or group coaching for staff, board and/or professionals (27%) 
  4. Group info sessions for opportunities (grants, public art calls) (21%) 
  5. Convening discussion around urgent topics (20%)
Arts Organizations Professional Development

Arts Organizations Professional Development

How RACC Continues to Respond

As a result of the What’s Next survey findings, RACC responded by bolstering programming and processes already in place along with stepping into new arenas. Some, of these included:

  • Make | Learn | Build Grants: To increase financial assistance to a greater number of recipients, these flexible awards supported artists, creatives, organizations, and businesses during a time of rapid change and creative innovation. Funds were provided to 317 artists and 99 businesses in FY21, with the programming continuing through the pandemic.
  • Capturing the Moment supported by PDXCARES funding: In response to current social concerns, this initiative called for submissions from Portland artists of color that captured a creative response to the global pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, racial justice protests, climate crisis, and/or the political environment. Work was purchased from 34 Black, Indigenous, and other artists of color.
  • Capacity expansion for grant funding: By partnering with multiple governmental entities, RACC was able to support Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) funds impact in the community. Additional grants supported projects, Oregon Film, venues, and emergency operational support.

Looking Forward

The Regional Arts & Culture Council continues to be focused on making the greatest impact and aligning its investments with its commitment to community, racial equity, and access. RACC continues enhancing support for the creative community in the tri-county region through investment, centering and lifting up artists’ voices, and promoting connection and collaboration.

We will continue to reach out to engage our community by asking for their thoughts and insights to ensure we are effectively meeting their needs. We look forward to your consideration in participating in our next survey in Winter 2022.


Relief funding for arts organizations, artists, and performance spaces 2021

RACC is reposting here the latest information we have about federal, state, and local resources to support our community. Check for updates and sign up to receive RACC’s e-newsletter for timely notifications.

updated 4/23/2021

Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program opens April 24

The long-awaited Shuttered Venue Operators Grant (SVOG) application portal postponed the relaunch to Monday, April 26, 2021 @ Noon ET. Links below may be subject to change.

The U.S. Small Business Administration’s grant program for shuttered arts and culture venues allows for a grant of up to $10 million for eligible businesses, including live venue operators, promoters, theatrical producers, live performing arts organizations, museums, zoos, aquariums and theaters.

Technical Assistant-only for the Application Portal through SBA Call Center 1-800-659-2955.  For application assistance, SBA recommends contacting one of their local assistance providers.

  • Tips:
    • Register in advance and read through the FAQs for changes and clarifications. Those questions with an * asterisk before it are new additions.
    • Upload as much evidence documentation as possible and that can include explanation statements.
    • SBA will allow post-submission corrections for technical errors and omissions only.
    • Application portal server may get overwhelmed during the busiest times. SBA has created a “waiting room” system to keep your application in the queue.
    • The application now asks for both gross and earned revenue schedule. Remember, accrual method is requested for the gross revenue schedule in determining priority period, but you can use cash or accrual method for the earned income schedule.

Paycheck Protection Program Round 2:

The SBA continues to issue updated guidance and forms for next phase implementation of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP). Following is a collection of the latest links to new information.

SBA Paycheck Protection Program Resources:

SBA Resources on PPP First Draw and Forgiveness:

SBA Resources on PPP Second Draw

Business Oregon Commercial Rent Relief Grants

Oregon small business owners who have struggled to pay their rent during the coronavirus pandemic can apply for help from the state through Monday, March 22. Business Oregon, the state’s economic development agency, is administering the program. Grants up to $100,000 per business tenant and a maximum of $3 million for each landlord may be awarded.

Landlords must complete the initial application, but both the businesses and property owners need to participate in the application process and sign the grant agreement in order to qualify for funding.

More information here.

Check for updates and sign up to receive RACC’s e-newsletter for timely notifications.


Local nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $253 million in annual economic activity

PORTLAND, OR – The nonprofit arts and culture industry in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties generates more than $253 million in annual economic activity, according to Arts & Economic Prosperity IV, a national economic impact study. The study was conducted in 182 communities nationwide by Americans for the Arts, with local support from the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) and Business for Culture & the Arts (BCA).

According to the study, the region’s nonprofit arts and culture organizations spent $152 million during fiscal year 2010. This spending is far-reaching: organizations pay employees, purchase supplies, contract for services and acquire assets within their community. The industry also leverages more than $101 million in event-related spending by its audiences; as a result of attending a cultural event, attendees often eat dinner in local restaurants, pay for parking, buy gifts and souvenirs, and pay a babysitter. All combined, these dollars support 8,529 full-time equivalent jobs, generate $195 million in household income for local residents, and $21 million in local and state government revenues.

“Arts organizations add tremendous value to our community, but it’s not always something we can quantify,” said Eloise Damrosch, executive director of RACC. “We know that the arts have the power to inspire us and provoke us, delight and engage us. They foster creativity in the classroom and stimulate innovation in our workplaces. But now we see exactly how much arts and culture organizations contribute to the local economy – and it’s significant.”

Deborah Edward, executive director of BCA, added that arts organizations are important local businesses, too. “They hire employees and purchase goods and services in our community. They also anchor tourism and our after-work lives, supporting local restaurants, retailers, and hotels. Culture inspires commerce and our economy is all the better because of this dynamic. Plainly, the arts are good for business.”

The study found the total attendance at arts and culture events in 2010 was 4.6 million, and that 16.3% of these were visitors from out of town. Nearly 70% of all visitors say that the primary reason for their trip is “specifically to attend this arts/culture event,” and visitors who stay overnight in a local hotel spend an average of $154.79 per person as a direct result of their attendance.

The Arts & Economic Prosperity IV study was conducted by Americans for the Arts and supported by The Ruth Lilly Fund of Americans for the Arts. RACC, BCA, and the Creative Advocacy Network (CAN) contributed time and other support, including the collection of local data. The full text of the local report is available here.

Nationally, the study reveals that the nonprofit arts industry produced $135.2 billion in economic activity during 2010. This spending—$61.1 billion by nonprofit arts and culture organizations plus an additional $74.1 billion by their audiences—supported 4.1 million full-time equivalent jobs and generated $22.3 billion in federal, state and local tax revenues. The national report is available here.

“This study shines a much-needed light on the vital role the arts play in stimulating and sustaining economic development,” says Robert L. Lynch, president and CEO of Americans for the Arts. “Contrary to popular belief, the arts are a bustling industry that supports a plethora of diverse jobs, generates significant revenues for local businesses and to federal, state and local governments and provides quality of life that positions communities to compete in our 21st century creative economy.”

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) is the local arts agency for Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties, providing grants for artists, schools and nonprofit organizations; conducting workplace giving for arts and culture (“Work for Art”) and other advocacy efforts; presenting workshops and other forms of technical assistance; providing printed and web-based resources for artists; and integrating art into public spaces.

Business for Culture & the Arts (BCA) is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to strengthening Oregon’s cultural and economy vitality. BCA’s advocacy, strategic alliances, membership programs, research, networking and celebratory events help to connect businesses and the arts for mutual benefit. Approximately 180 Portland businesses are members of BCA, which is an affiliate of the national Business Committee for the Arts, Inc. www.nwbca.org.