Annual Report Complete list of grants Awarded

Complete list of grants Awarded to Artists, Arts Organizations, and Artistic Projects in FY2018-19

Further details about awarded grants are available on our Awarded Grants page here.

Grantee Grantee Type Grant Type Award Amount
45th Parallel Organization Project $5,000
Abreu, Manuel Individual Project $7,000
Adams-Santos, Stephanie Individual Professional Development $1,370
Advance Gender Equity in the Arts Organization Project $3,680
Ake, Jody Individual Professional Development $900
Akins, Crystal Individual Project $6,950
Alford, Jea Individual Professional Development $1,800
Algoso, Luann Individual Project $6,640
Allotey, Nii Ardey Individual Project $6,120
Alvarado, Amaya Individual Project $5,880
Amadeus Chamber Orchestra Organization Project $5,000
Aman, Steve Individual Project $5,600
Amorin, DB Individual Project $6,000
Anderson, Karl Individual Project $6,000
Anuntarungsun, May Individual Project $3,750
APANO (Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon) Organization Project $7,000
Architecture Foundation of Oregon Organization Project $5,250
Artback Organization Project $4,500
Artists Repertory Theatre Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $64,500
Artists Repertory Theatre Organization Equity Investments $25,000
Artists Repertory Theatre Organization General Support $69,500
Atwood, Evan Individual Project $6,300
August Wilson Red Door Project Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $18,500
August Wilson Red Door Project Organization General Support $12,000
August Wilson Red Door Project Organization Equity Investments $25,000
Awbrey, Olivia Individual Project $6,260
Bach Cantata Choir Organization Project $5,480
Bacior Emanuelson, Robin Individual Professional Development $1,428
Bag & Baggage Productions Organization General Support $10,000
Barrera, Claire Individual Project $6,510
Beaverton Civic Theatre Organization Project $6,260
Bedrock Theatre Organization Project $1,500
Bienestar Organization Project $5,950
Binns, Heather Individual Professional Development $900
Bleckinger, Sundance Individual Professional Development $1,213
Blue Sky Gallery Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $14,000
Blue Sky Gallery Organization General Support $11,700
BodyVox Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $64,500
BodyVox Organization General Support $31,600
Boom Arts Organization Professional Development $1,000
Boom Arts Organization General Support $10,500
Bracker, Rachel Individual Project $6,920
Brahim, Sarah Individual Professional Development $1,650
Brandt, David Individual Project $6,300
Brinkman, Lisa Individual Professional Development $1,080
Broadway Rose Theatre Company Organization General Support $23,000
Brooks, RaShaunda Individual Project $6,300
Brown, Emma Individual Project $5,000
Brown, Sage Individual Professional Development $900
Buchner, Eric Individual Professional Development $1,500
Butler-Denman, Lyra Individual Project $5,440
Byrne-Seres, Spencer Individual Project $5,250
c3:initiative Organization Project $6,300
Campbell-Balkits, Maura Individual Professional Development $1,219
Cappella Romana Organization General Support $13,800
Cappella Romana Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $33,000
Carpenter, Allynn Individual Project $5,740
Cascadia Composers Organization Project $5,530
Central City Concern Organization Project $6,000
Chamber Music Northwest Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $64,500
Chamber Music Northwest Organization General Support $39,600
Chang, Lisa Individual Professional Development $1,700
Chang, Wei-Chun Individual Project $6,300
Children’s Healing Art Project Organization General Support $13,400
Children’s Healing Art Project (CHAP) Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $18,500
Chipman, Pamela Individual Professional Development $900
Choi, Yoonhee Individual Professional Development $1,200
Clark, Merideth Individual Project $5,780
Clarren, Rebecca Individual Project $5,410
Classical Up Close Organization Project $4,870
CoHo Productions Organization General Support $12,800
CoHo Productions Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $18,500
Colligan, George Individual Project $3,000
Collins, Max Individual Project $4,300
Community Vision Organization Project $2,250
Compton, Amy Individual Project $6,300
Connelly, Brittney Individual Project $6,140
Corrib Theatre Organization Project $7,000
Couch Film Collective Organization Project $3,390
Crenshaw, Jana Individual Project $7,000
Curington, Susan Individual Project $5,530
CymaSpace Organization Professional Development $2,000
CymaSpace Organization Project $7,000
Czyzewicz, Alexandra Individual Professional Development $900
Dahl, Dicky Individual Project $5,880
Dahwen Wu, Roland Individual Professional Development $1,800
Dance Wire Organization Professional Development $1,800
Darnell, Tiara Individual Project $5,790
Davee, Edward Individual Project $6,860
de Bastion, Myles Individual Project $5,950
Del Individual Project $6,360
Desautels, Jeffrey Individual Project $2,080
Design Museum Portland Organization Project $5,600
Díaz, Sophia Individual Project $5,210
Disability Art and Culture Project Organization Capacity Building $10,000
Disability Art and Culture Project Organization Capacity Building $15,000
Disjecta Contemporary Art Center Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $18,500
Disjecta Contemporary Art Center Organization General Support $13,900
Division Midway Alliance Organization Project $4,800
dodd, jayy Individual Project $1,800
Doran, Sean Individual Project $5,610
Doughton, Steven Individual Project $7,000
Eao, Emmeline Individual Project $6,850
Echo Theater Company Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $33,000
Echo Theater Company Organization General Support $15,300
Edwards Center, Inc. Organization Project $5,950
Egan, Catherine Individual Professional Development $1,998
Egan, Catherine Individual Project $2,490
Emanuelson, Erik Individual Professional Development $1,586
en Taiko Organization Project $7,000
Estacada Area Arts Commission Organization Project $6,300
Ethos Inc. Organization Equity Investments $22,000
Ethos Inc. Organization General Support $29,600
Ethos Music Center Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $42,000
Ewell, Derek Individual Project $6,640
Experience Theatre Project Organization Project $3,400
Fear No Music Organization Project $6,400
Ferm, Mia Individual Professional Development $1,000
Flint, Joshua Individual Professional Development $1,767
Fogel, Stephanie Individual Project $6,300
Fonograf Editions Organization Project $6,280
Friends of Chamber Music Organization General Support $19,000
Fuemmeler, Anthony Individual Project $6,970
Fuller Rosen Gallery Organization Project $1,850
Fuse Theatre Ensemble Organization Project $6,230
Galen, Michael Individual Professional Development $1,950
García Marrufo, Rubén Individual Project $7,000
Gaskill, Dora Individual Project $3,640
Gilbert , Benjamin Individual Professional Development $600
Gilley, Damien Individual Professional Development $545
Girls Inc of the Pacific NW Organization Project $5,250
Gonzalez, Brisa Individual Professional Development $1,800
Gooden, Justus Tyrone Individual Project $6,650
Grant, Darrell Individual Professional Development $1,920
Green, Cheryl Individual Project $5,850
Greenwood-Rioseco, Anne Individual Project $6,200
Gugenheim Kedem, Shoshana Individual Project $6,290
Hamilton, Jo Individual Professional Development $1,656
Hamilton, Jo Individual Project $6,520
Hand2Mouth Organization General Support $8,000
Hand2Mouth Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $14,000
Hand2Mouth Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $33,000
Hankins, Allie Individual Project $5,470
Haque, Sabina Zeba Individual Project $7,000
Hare, Lauren Individual Professional Development $900
Hasan, Elijah Individual Project $5,600
Hayes, Marlana Individual Professional Development $1,500
Hearn, Dot Individual Project $7,000
Heidi Duckler Dance Theatre/Northwest Organization Project $5,910
Henniger, Michael Individual Project $3,870
Hocking, Justin Individual Project $6,300
Holley, Kennard Individual Project $6,300
Hollywood Theatre Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $64,500
Hollywood Theatre Organization General Support $38,300
Hough, Kurtis Individual Project $5,870
Imago Theatre Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $18,500
Imago Theatre Organization General Support $15,500
Independent Publishing Resource Center Organization General Support $10,600
Independent Publishing Resource Center Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $14,000
Independent Publishing Resource Center Organization Equity Investments $31,050
India Cultural Association Organization Project $5,000
Irving, Apricot Individual Professional Development $1,501
Jacobs, Diane Individual Project $6,300
JANE a theater company Organization Project $5,950
Jarrett, Lisa Individual Project $7,000
Johnstone, Eve Individual Project $4,600
Jones Redstone, Dawn Individual Project $6,990
Kataoka, Ayako Individual Professional Development $1,237
Kawano, Yukiyo Individual Professional Development $2,000
Keller, Zoe Individual Professional Development $485
Kim, Una Individual Project $6,970
Klauder, Caleb Individual Project $5,250
Koff, David Individual Project $2,780
Kolosowsky, Natalya Individual Project $6,780
Kowalska, Melinda Individual Project $4,560
Kristin, Wil Individual Project $6,490
Kuttab, Amy Individual Project $5,410
Lakewood Center for the Arts Organization General Support $21,000
Larson, Kendra Individual Project $2,650
Latino Network Organization Project $4,970
Leeb, Jordana Individual Project $3,100
Lesperance, Ellen Individual Professional Development $960
Letra Chueca Press Organization Project $5,130
Li, Yuan-Chen Individual Professional Development $800
LineStorm Playwrights Organization Project $4,180
Lippert, Sophie Individual Project $6,170
Literary Arts Organization General Support $45,000
Literary Arts Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $64,500
Little, Willie Individual Project $6,250
Live On Stage Organization Project $6,950
Live Wire! Radio Organization General Support $15,200
Live Wire! Radio Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $33,000
Long, Eric Individual Project $4,010
Long, Taylor Individual Professional Development $1,787
Longstreth, Katherine Individual Project $6,050
Lowe, Janie Individual Project $6,930
Martin, Barbara Individual Professional Development $766
Martin, Sommer Individual Project $6,970
Matheson, William Individual Project $2,260
Matlow, Cambria Individual Professional Development $1,227
Matlow, Cambria Individual Project $5,600
McGeorge , Megan Individual Project $5,060
McKinley, Melinda Individual Professional Development $1,300
McNamara, Jason Individual Project $4,950
MediaRites Organization Capacity Building $10,000
MediaRites Organization Capacity Building $15,000
Mefford, Benjamin Individual Project $2,880
Mehta, Jessica Individual Professional Development $1,750
Mehta, Jessica Individual Project $5,220
Metropolitan Youth Symphony Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $33,000
Metropolitan Youth Symphony Organization General Support $19,700
Miles, Rhen Individual Project $5,360
Milholland, Lola Individual Project $5,380
Miller, Emily Individual Professional Development $300
Miller, Emily Individual Project $3,580
Miller, Grant Individual Project $5,600
Miller, Kristen Individual Professional Development $2,000
Miracle Theatre Group Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $42,000
Miracle Theatre Group Organization Equity Investments $16,500
Miracle Theatre Group Organization General Support $21,000
Mitchell, S. Renee Individual Project $6,930
Monroe, Lacey Individual Professional Development $900
Montavilla Jazz Festival Organization Project $3,600
Morris, Elise Individual Project $5,890
Morris-Judd, Nancy Individual Project $7,000
Moscoso, Jose Individual Project $6,290
Moss, Eva Individual Project $6,300
Moulton, Suzanne Individual Project $6,300
Musica Maestrale Organization Project $2,930
My Voice Music Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $18,500
My Voice Music Organization General Support $9,800
Myers, Arwen Individual Professional Development $1,820
Nakano, Ryan Individual Project $6,300
Native American Youth and Family Center Organization Project $6,300
New Expressive Works Organization Project $6,300
Ng, Xi Jie Individual Project $4,420
Ngo, Aja Individual Project $5,370
Northwest Children’s Theater & School Organization Equity Investments $10,000
Northwest Children’s Theater & School Organization General Support $52,300
Northwest Children’s Theater & School Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $64,500
Northwest Classical Theatre Collaborative Organization Project $6,300
Northwest Dance Project Organization General Support $34,200
Northwest Dance Project Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $64,500
Novarino, Jade Individual Professional Development $1,200
NW Documentary Arts & Media Organization General Support $8,000
NW Documentary Arts & Media Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $14,000
One World Chorus Organization Project $6,950
Onstott, Cosper Individual Project $6,300
Opera Theater of Oregon Organization Project $5,400
Opera Theater of Oregon Organization Project $5,950
Oregon ArtsWatch Organization Project $7,000
Oregon Ballet Theatre Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $126,000
Oregon Ballet Theatre Organization General Support $131,000
Oregon Ballet Theatre Organization Equity Investments $20,000
Oregon BRAVO Youth Orchestras Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $33,000
Oregon BRAVO Youth Orchestras Organization General Support $14,600
Oregon Children’s Theatre Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $64,500
Oregon Children’s Theatre Organization Equity Investments $10,000
Oregon Children’s Theatre Organization General Support $72,900
Oregon Jewish Museum and Center for Holocaust Education Organization Project $6,980
Oregon Symphonic Band Organization Project $2,380
Oregon Symphony Association Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $200,000
Oregon Symphony Association Organization General Support $352,000
O’Rourke, Rachel Individual Project $4,480
Ortega, Rodolfo Individual Professional Development $1,700
Our Bold Voices Organization Project $5,020
Outside the Frame Organization Project $7,000
Pacific Northwest College of Art Organization Project $7,000
Pacific Youth Choir Organization Project $6,530
PassinArt: A Theatre Company Organization Project $5,930
PCC Sylvania Organization Project $6,900
PDX Jazz Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $42,000
PDX Jazz Organization General Support $17,200
PDX Pop Now! Organization Project $7,000
Pearl, Cora Individual Professional Development $1,530
Pendulum Aerial Arts Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $14,000
Performance Works NorthWest Organization Project $5,840
Perini, Julie Individual Professional Development $820
PETE Organization General Support $8,000
PETE (Portland Experimental Theatre Ensemble) Organization Project $5,950
PHAME Organization Equity Investments $20,000
PHAME Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $42,000
PHAME Organization General Support $13,700
Phillips, Mo Individual Project $4,010
PlayWrite Organization General Support $10,100
PlayWrite, Inc. Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $14,000
Polaris Dance Theatre Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $18,500
Polaris Dance Theatre Organization General Support $12,300
Politzer, Kerry Individual Project $6,870
Portland Art Museum/Northwest Film Center Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $200,000
Portland Art Museum/Northwest Film Center Organization General Support $427,000
Portland Baroque Orchestra Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $42,000
Portland Baroque Orchestra Organization General Support $28,700
Portland Center Stage Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $126,000
Portland Center Stage Organization General Support $225,000
Portland Center Stage Organization Equity Investments $52,500
Portland Chamber Music Organization Project $1,500
Portland Columbia Symphony Organization General Support $13,200
Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $18,500
Portland Community Reinvestment Initiatives, Inc. (PCRI) Organization Project $5,950
Portland Festival Symphony Organization Project $5,180
Portland Gay Men’s Chorus Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $33,000
Portland Gay Men’s Chorus Organization Equity Investments $9,000
Portland Gay Men’s Chorus Organization General Support $14,700
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art Organization Equity Investments $40,000
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art Organization General Support $41,900
Portland Institute for Contemporary Art Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $64,500
Portland Japanese Garden Organization Project $5,600
Portland Jazz Composers Ensemble Organization Professional Development $1,500
Portland Latin American Film Festival Organization Project $7,000
Portland Meet Portland Organization Project $5,600
Portland Opera Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $126,000
Portland Opera Organization General Support $214,000
Portland Oregon Women’s Film Festival Organization Project $7,000
Portland Piano International Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $33,000
Portland Piano International Organization General Support $20,000
Portland Playhouse Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $42,000
Portland Playhouse Organization General Support $23,000
Portland Playhouse Organization Equity Investments $40,000
Portland SummerFest Organization Project $5,600
Portland Taiko Organization Project $3,920
Portland Tango Association Inc Organization Project $5,600
Portland Youth Philharmonic Association Organization General Support $23,800
Portland Youth Philharmonic Association Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $42,000
Portland Youth Philharmonic Association Organization Equity Investments $12,000
Profile Theatre Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $33,000
Profile Theatre Organization General Support $17,100
Profile Theatre Organization Equity Investments $50,000
Provax, Alyson Individual Project $5,790
Psaltis, Reid Individual Professional Development $1,387
Public Annex Organization Project $6,500
Purvis, Charles Individual Professional Development $630
push/FOLD Organization Project $5,250
Q Center Organization Project $5,360
QDoc: Portland Queer Documentary Film Festival Organization Project $7,000
Rafter, Kate Individual Professional Development $1,800
Ratner, Bonnie Individual Professional Development $1,500
Rengill, Elilai Individual Project $4,980
Resonance Ensemble Organization Project $6,350
Rier, Erika Individual Project $1,240
Ripper, Karina Individual Project $7,000
Risk/Reward Organization Project $7,000
Rock ‘n’ Roll Camp for Girls Organization General Support $10,500
Roushan, Raziah Individual Project $6,570
Sanchez, Michael Individual Professional Development $810
Shambry, Vin Individual Project $5,850
Shine Children’s Chorus Organization Project $5,860
Signal Fire Organization Project $6,870
Simonds, Jake Individual Professional Development $1,750
Singh, Anupam Individual Project $5,850
Sinner, Lauren Individual Professional Development $900
Slavic Community Center of NW Organization Project $6,260
Solunaya, Reina Individual Project $6,300
Steele, Jenelle Individual Professional Development $1,740
Stevens, Melanie Individual Project $3,800
Stewart, Aremy Individual Professional Development $900
Stigant, Mandy Individual Project $4,930
StockLynn, Jack Individual Project $6,620
Strand, Julie Individual Project $7,000
Street Books Organization Professional Development $1,800
Street Roots Organization Project $6,650
Swanson, Jennifer Individual Professional Development $995
Syharath, Samson Individual Project $4,500
Takohachi Organization Project $6,240
Taylor Blakemore, Kim Individual Professional Development $1,700
The Circus Project Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $42,000
The Circus Project Organization General Support $12,800
The Giving Tree NW Organization Project $3,730
The Portland Ballet Organization General Support $24,100
The Portland Ballet Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $42,000
Theatre Vertigo Organization Project $3,870
Third Angle New Music Ensemble Organization General Support $8,000
Third Angle New Music Ensemble Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $14,000
Third Rail Repertory Theatre Organization General Support $29,100
Third Rail Repertory Theatre Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $33,000
Thomas, Alison Individual Professional Development $1,000
Tiedemann, Sarah Individual Project $4,930
Tillman, Kai Individual Project $6,950
tomasello, taryn Individual Professional Development $1,500
Torres, Ikaika Individual Project $6,870
Tran, Minh Individual Project $7,000
Trask, Kirista Individual Project $4,490
Triangle Productions Organization General Support $13,000
Triangle Productions Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $18,500
Trotter, Stephanie Individual Project $3,510
Trujillo, Juan Individual Project $5,600
Turner, Sarah Individual Project $5,250
Urban Art Network Organization Professional Development $2,000
Vanport Mosaic Organization Capacity Building $10,000
Vanport Mosaic Organization Capacity Building $15,000
Vazquez Gomez, Patricia Individual Project $6,500
Vigeant, Leslie Individual Project $2,210
Viva La Free<Kenton Action Plan Organization Project $7,000
Vivas, Maya Individual Professional Development $2,000
Vivian, Chanel Individual Project $5,560
Vo, Anna Individual Project $6,650
Vos, Mike Individual Project $3,220
Washington County Cooperative Library Services (WCCLS) Organization Project $5,970
Water in the Desert Organization Project $7,000
Westside Youth Choir Organization Project $1,910
White Bird Organization General Support $42,100
White Bird Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $64,500
Whitworth, Joni Individual Project $5,600
Wilcke, Lisa Individual Project $2,200
Willamette Writers Organization Project $6,590
Wilson, Dan Individual Project $5,260
Wilsonville Arts & Culture Council Organization Project $2,700
Wolf, Cameron Individual Project $6,590
WolfBird Dance Organization Project $6,210
World Arts Foundation, Inc. Organization Project $7,000
World Stage Theatre Organization Project $5,820
Write Around Portland Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $18,500
Write Around Portland Organization General Support $13,400
Wu, Chliu-Mie Individual Professional Development $1,930
XRAY.FM Organization Project $5,000
Yamamoto, Takahiro Individual Project $5,850
Yanke, Erin Individual Project $5,500
Yarbrough, Xavier Individual Project $6,280
Yoshikawa, Ken Individual Professional Development $683
Young Audiences of Oregon Organization General Support $46,100
Young Audiences of Oregon Organization Special Allocation of AEAF Funds $64,500
Zingsheim, Crystal Individual Professional Development $1,500

Hank Willis Thomas and Intisar Abioto featured in a new public art project, In—Between

A new temporary public art project is being installed along the median strip on NE Holladay Street between the Oregon Convention Center and the new Hyatt Hotel and parking structure. As part of a new series called In—Between, the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) invited Portland-based artist Intisar Abioto and Brooklyn-based artist Hank Willis Thomas to create ten banners, each 10 feet tall, featuring the artists’ words and images. The banners will appear on five posts along NE Holladay Street between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and 1st Avenue through May 31.

Funding comes from the city’s Percent-for-Art ordinance, which sets aside 2% of the construction costs for Prosper Portland’s new parking garage to create public art. An artist selection panel was composed of community members, artists and representatives from Prosper Portland, the Oregon Convention Center, Mayer-Reed Landscape Architecture.  The panel agreed that goals for the project should include bold artwork that connects to the area’s communities and reflects the general concepts of movement, change, adaptation – addressing a general statement of “where are we going.”

With this pilot exhibition, the panel seized on an opportunity to feature internationally acclaimed multi-disciplinary artist Hank William Thomas, whose work is currently featured in an exhibition at the Portland Art Museum, and pairing him with a local multi-disciplinary artist in Intisar Abioto.

Please note: There has been a delay in installing the banners. Stay tuned; more information about this project will be posted on racc.org after December 10.


A deep dive to review and strengthen RACC

by Madison Cario

Since arriving in Portland nine months ago, my time has been filled with stories. Stories from artists, the community, our partners, our supporters and of course, some of our critics. I have heard an incredible range of anecdotes and ideas, I have listened to feedback, and I have enjoyed conversations around the question of “why”—why art and culture are essential, why RACC exists, and of course, why art and equity matter.

These stories have brought to life the goals and objectives that RACC’s Board of Directors—in alignment with the City of Portland and the community at large—established for me when I was hired. Key priorities were to evaluate RACC’s challenges and opportunities, and to develop a strategic plan ensuring that RACC can fully realize its vision—and responsibility—to support and advance a thriving, equitable and inclusive arts and culture environment throughout the region.

In service to this vision, it has become very clear to me that RACC must engage in a deep internal review, evaluating our own organization from within before we engage the community in establishing new priorities for the future. This work is essential to strengthen RACC’s foundation and to set us up for doing more good work in our community.

I am truly excited to embark on what we are calling a “deep dive.” I came to RACC to lead the organization into a new chapter, implement change, and strengthen our important work. This is exactly what we aim to do and I want us to be as transparent as possible throughout the process. So here is what we plan to do next:

First we will conduct an independent review of our financial structure and systems. Fortunately, we have a great track record of solid accounting practices and controls as verified every year through independent financial audits. At the same time we know that many of our financial systems could be improved for greater efficiency and effectiveness.

  • We have hired a third party to review our budget and analyze the cost of RACC’s projects and programs.
  • This assessment includes a review of financial statements and reporting systems, recommendations for process improvements, an assessment of the capabilities and limitations of our finance and accounting software, and recommendations for staffing and structuring the finance team.
  • I should also note that RACC completed a pay equity study this past summer, which showed balanced and appropriate compensation among our team. We made some minor adjustments in response to the study’s recommendations.

Second, we will transform RACC’s internal culture. It is essential that we lead on issues of equity and inclusion, and ensure that RACC has a vibrant, forward-thinking culture that reflects the thriving communities we serve. To do this work, we will take these steps:

  • This summer, RACC issued an RFP for a partner to work with the staff and board over an 18-month period to build a comprehensive plan for Equity, Diversity, Inclusion, and Access—including comprehensive training and mentoring programs. The search committee is in the final phase of reviewing proposals, and we expect this work to begin in November, building on equity-focused workshops that we completed over the past few years.
  • We are also in the final phases of hiring an internal, part-time Equity & Organizational Culture Facilitator who will help guide the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Access consultants. RACC also has a strong Staff Equity Workgroup that reorganized this past year, and I am grateful to them for moving much of this work forward.
  • We will retain a third party to review our HR systems, policies and procedures with a particular equity focus on hiring practices, professional development, supervision, retention, attrition, and compliance. A search for that partner is now underway.

These priorities represent the most important next steps in RACC’s strategic planning process. We continue to be guided by questions about our future: What will Portland and its citizenry look like in the years ahead? What needs, opportunities, trends, and personas will arise, and what will be the best role for RACC to play going forward? One thing we know for sure: our region will rely on art, equity and efficiency to succeed, and it is incumbent upon RACC to ensure that our internal systems are strong as we set out to merge these priorities in service to the community.

This work will go deep, and take 3-6 months to complete before we continue into the next, more public phases of strategic planning. These internal reviews will become the foundation for our path forward, reflecting our commitment to equity and our obligation to ensure that everyone in our community has access to culture, creativity and the arts.

I am grateful to RACC’s many stakeholders for their ongoing support, and remain inspired by the region’s strong commitment to arts and culture. We are excited to build an even stronger support system for the future of our arts and culture community, and I welcome your comments and questions at any time. You can reach me at ed@racc.org.

Navigating Engagement and Art-making in Public Spaces

by Patricia Vázquez Gómez


Editor’s Note: In August, RACC co-hosted a workshop for emerging mural artists with Mural Arts Philadelphia, which was followed by our Art Spark summer event. We asked one of the participants, Patricia Vázquez Gómez, to share their experience and thoughts about mural making in the public realm with our readers.


How can we expand our notions and strategies in working with specific communities? Does working with communities makes an artwork better? What can we do to produce aesthetically vigorous and coherent work while we include a diversity of sensibilities? What is the role of murals in the transformation of our places and communities? How can murals go beyond the representation of issues and be catalysts of change?

These are some of the questions that I pondered during and after participating in a workshop organized by RACC and led by Shira Walinsky and Cathy Harris from Mural Arts Philadelphia. The session focused on strategies for community engagement and participation. Since 1984 Mural Arts Philadelphia has brought together communities and artists to “create art that transforms public spaces and individual lives”. The amount and variety of work coming from this organization is outstanding. I was impressed by Mural Arts’ community engagement infrastructure, and their evident savvy in matching artists with communities to produce powerful, vibrant and socially relevant murals. Creating artwork in collaboration with communities is increasingly encouraged, but it poses challenges that not all artists might feel prepared for or willing to take on. I worked as a community organizer and educator for 7 years; and working on art projects with people comes somewhat natural to me. But in my experience, engaging communities with care and intention always takes extra time and energy, resulting in a significant amount of unpaid work. Negotiating with wall owners is another difficulty I have run into. Very recently, I had a mural project cancelled, because the wall owner wanted something more “neutral” than my proposal of candid portraits of the diverse residents of the apartment complex where the mural was going to be painted. I felt hopeful in learning about Mural Arts, their clear vision for the visual landscape of a place and the resources they have developed to facilitate the public engagement aspects of mural making for artists.


Who gets to paint a mural? Why? What are the challenges that artists of color face in accessing public space for our projects? What kind of support do we need? What kind of resources exist? How is the current political climate influencing our decisions about what we decide to paint? Why public art? What makes a public space public?

After the workshop, we moved into an outside space, and despite the unusual wet and chilly August weather, the latest edition of Art Spark was lively and well attended. I felt honored to share microphone with Alex Chiu and Eatcho, two artists whose work I admire and whom I hadn’t yet had the pleasure to meet. I was pleasantly surprised to learn about Molly Mendoza, a gifted illustrator and comic writer, and Tomás Valladares from the Portland Street Art Alliance, an organization I wish I had known of before. One of the most valuable and enjoyable aspects of Art Spark is the opportunity to learn from and about other artists. Happily, there are always new artists to meet in the seemingly small Portland’s arts community. We each spoke for a very brief time, but what I heard expanded my reflections on what it means to be public artists of color, inserted in a city where permits and regulation of public space compromise the urgency and spontaneity of artwork made for and with our communities. When one of the attendees asked which city of the world inspires us for its murals I first thought of the mural at the Women’s Building in San Francisco, one of my all time favorites, and of Mexico City, the city where I was born and raised, which is considered one of the most important referents in mural painting. But I also had to mention Oaxaca in southern Mexico, where an irreverent, socially and politically committed street art based on a strong and old tradition of printmaking is everywhere in the streets. I believe that the best street art happens in places where artists and communities feel ownership and have immediate access to public space. How we are going to defend the right to public space access in Portland, in the face of urban development that imposes stricter regulations while favoring specific aesthetics and a “hip” look is one of the questions many of my fellow artists are grappling with.



Patricia Vázquez Gómez works and lives between Portland and Mexico City. Her practice investigates the immigrant experience, social invisibility, the performative aspects of identity, the intersections between ethics and aesthetics and the social function of art through a variety of media that includes painting, printmaking, video and socially engaged art projects, The purpose and methodologies of her work are deeply informed by her experiences working in the immigrant rights and other social justice movements in the US. Patricia’s work can be explored at http://cargocollective.com/patriciavg⁠

Black Life Experiential Research Group Pursuing Change Through Art and Radical Geography

by Bruce Poinsette


(This is the second of two articles about artist-in-residence projects that RACC manages through the Percent for Public Art Program for the City of Portland.)

Spend a few minutes with Dr. Lisa Bates and Sharita Towne and the two women will have you questioning everything you’ve ever learned about the role of Black creativity in America. For the transdisciplinary artist and urban planner duo, the Black imagination is a tool for tangible change that they’re putting into action through their collaboration as the Black Life Experiential Research Group.

“The Black imagination isn’t about distraction,” says Towne. “We’re not using it to distract us from our reality. Our imagination is an underground railroad of meanings that is actually about derailing oppression. It’s in our imagination that we find a means of escape.”

Officially described as an “interdisciplinary collaborative for inquiry and activism at the intersection of art, urban planning, and radical geography,” BLERG is a think tank that Towne and Bates began developing in the spring of 2017. With the support of the Regional Arts & Culture Council, BLERG is currently participating in an artist-in-residence program focused on the Humboldt neighborhood. Utilizing a variety of different artistic mediums, collaborators, and spaces, the project seeks to both build community and redefine the narrative around Black life in Portland. BLERG-related projects include a DIY newspaper called the “Black Life Sentinel,” collaborative events with local Black artists such as “This is a Black Spatial Imaginary,” ongoing oral history interviews with longtime residents of the Humboldt neighborhood and community, and collaborative learning experiences with students at Jefferson High School.

Towne and Bates are keenly aware that the term “think tank” evokes thoughts of a disconnected, sterilized approach. Bates specifically references the work of geographer Clive Woods when she notes that statistics and metrics like the “achievement gap” and measurements of “blight” have long been used to dehumanize Black communities. Yet, instead of running away from these analytical tools, she and Towne are working to repurpose them to serve Black Portlanders. 

“He (Woods) asked the question, ‘Are we academic coroners? Is this just an autopsy over and over again?’ And then he turns and asks, ‘Isn’t it the same scalpel in the hands of a coroner that’s in the hands of a surgeon?,’” recalls Bates. “So how can we take these tools, instruments, and ways that we study and think and wield them with a different intention?

“How do you talk about struggle and oppression, but also talk about resilience and joy? How do we talk about how Black life continues in those conditions?”

Towne adds, “When Black people get together, be it across discipline or geographies, something shakes loose inside of us. New possibilities are born out of that. With a think tank, we’re not just interested in producing a dry, analytical report. We’re interested in producing an experience that is just as much ours as it is the people who end up collaborating with us to make it or the people who witness it and carry it forward in whatever work they might do that benefits Black life.”

In many ways, Towne and Bates’ vision for BLERG is informed by their past experiences in the areas of art, activism, and urban planning. Towne is transdisciplinary artist and educator who has spent significant time not just in Portland, but also Salem, Tacoma, and Sacramento. She has won a host of awards and produced a number of exhibitions throughout the country. Some of her recent local projects include the film workshop De-Gentrifying Portland and Our City in Stereo exhibition.

Bates, meanwhile, is professional urban planner and activist scholar. Like Towne, Bates has won awards for her work, which has included research stints not just in Portland, but post-Katrina New Orleans and Chicago. She has worked with a multitude of public agencies in Portland to develop equity plans and strategies, including previously serving on the board of directors for the Portland Housing Center.

Considering Bates and Towne’s mutual interest in exploring the roots of gentrification and studying Black space, it was only a matter of time before their paths crossed at the Portland City Club a little over a year prior to the creation of BLERG. After hitting it off, the two quickly developed a vision for a project. Among other things, one of their primary goals was to pivot the larger cultural narrative from Black Lives Matter to “Black Life Matters.” Specifically, they wanted to move away from just discussing the Black experience within the narrow prisms of racial oppression and state-sponsored violence, and instead focus on the entirety of what it means to be Black in Portland. For Bates and Towne, this meant celebrating Black life as an everyday experience and discussing historical Black places as a matter of geography.

Black Life Sentinel Issue One

Black Life Sentinel Issue One

One example of how this ideal manifests in their work is the “Black Life Sentinel.” The DIY newspaper, which is a collaboration with the Portland African American Leadership Forum, Northeast Coalition of Neighborhoods, and the Regional Arts & Culture Council, dedicates each issue to a specific subject of concern for Portland’s Black community. In the latest edition, the paper took on urban renewal. Specifically, the theme of the issue, as well as the title of an editorial by Bates and Towne, was “Is more urban renewal what North/Northeast Portland needs?” In addition to the editorial, the paper contains both current and historic pictures of North/Northeast Portland’s Black community, interviews and testimonials from Black residents, a copy of PAALF’s vision for valuing Black lives, a glossary of urban renewal-related terms, and even a copy of a press release and separate document from the City of Portland making the case for urban renewal.

With the assistance of PAALF, Towne and Bates distribute the papers through word of mouth. Bates says she was genuinely surprised to find out how many people were unaware that the City was considering expanding its urban renewal efforts. For her, it signaled a clear deficit in media coverage.

“Where is this being reported or talked about at?,” says Bates. “Is it not being framed or connected in away that makes sense to people? What happened here? Me, being in urban planning and being attuned to the urban renewal area here, I knew all about that. I just thought everybody knew about it because it’s a big deal and it’s this super historically significant site. And then I started talking to people and handing them papers, and they knew nothing about it.”

While she was surprised by the collective lack of knowledge about current urban renewal plans, Bates understands that the subject in general isn’t particularly accessible for most people. In addition to being considered “boring,” she says it is often depressing. Specifically, the constant research on exclusion, exploitation, displacement, and predatory lending weighs on her.

“It’s just all of these layers upon layers of ways that policy and planning and urban renewal have defined Black people and spaces with Black people in them as defective and unacceptable, then did things to those people to contain, remove, and acculturate them in some harsh way,” says Bates. “But it’s also extremely depressing and in some ways, a weird project for urban planning. Urban planning is inherently future looking. Urban planning is supposed to be about the 25 year plan.

“But what are the tools that would let us imagine a different future? All of the basic tools we have in planning just involve projecting forward from a baseline, assuming the baseline is okay. But if none of this is okay at all because we now understand where we came from, then what would be the thing? So you have to start getting into something that would be way more about the imagination and creative problem solving. It can’t just be learning how to do a population projection. It can’t just be the mainstream tools of real estate site analysis because that’s already got all the bad stuff baked into it.”

BLERG taps into the aforementioned creative problem solving in a variety of ways, including rethinking the very foundation of their approach. Perhaps the best example of this is their collaboration with Jefferson High School, which is part of a larger RACC-sponsored artist-in-residency in the Humboldt Neighborhood.

Black Life Sentinel Issue One

Inside Black Life Sentinel Issue One

For this portion of the project, Towne and Bates work with a Jefferson Senior Inquiry class that explores race and social justice. They visit the class anywhere from twice a month to twice a week. Unlike other courses that seek to engage students with local artists, they make a point of not going into the classroom with a set plan. Instead, they work with the teachers and participate in the activities the students are already doing. They also spend a lot of time simply listening and conversing with students to gauge their perspectives. Four months in, while they don’t have any set projects, a number of students have agreed to work with BLERG on oral history interviews with their family members. Others are currently working with Towne and Bates on gallery presentations set for this spring.

“It can sometimes feel meandering or time consuming for artists or people outside of the school,” says Towne. “At the same time, I think it’s important in a place like Jeff to not arrive with a formula that you want to plug them into as variables. I think Jeff is a high school that is often sensationalized in ways that those youth don’t need to be enduring in their high school experience and in the history of this neighborhood and community. We’re really interested in being there and seeing how we share inquiry and give each other life. That way, we can see what shakes loose out of the soundboarding of our shared stake in Black life in this place.”

Sarah Dougher, a local musician and Portland State University professor who helps teach Senior Inquiry at Jefferson, echoes Towne’s sentiments. She says she’s been particularly impressed with how Towne and Bates give students space and encouragement.

“One thing that is really meaningful for our students is when people come in and spend the time to get to know them and to develop relationships with them,” says Dougher. “Most of the time when an artist or writer comes in, students are put in a position to automatically like and trust what that person is doing. One thing that Sharita and Lisa do is understand that is actually not a given. Building relationships with students is part of what makes the learning happen. This means actually spending a lot of time in the classroom with us and doing what we’re doing.”

While the Jefferson collaboration doesn’t yet have a centralized project, one BLERG activity that Dougher says was especially impactful for her students was the “Curation Station” project. As part of this activity, Towne and Bates invited six artists of color representing a variety of different mediums to speak to students. The artists ranged from graphic designers to traditional museum curators. In the weeks following “Curation Station,” Jefferson students even chose one of the presenters to be the keynote speaker for their Black History Month Symposium.

Going forward, Dougher hopes the BLERG collaboration can serve as a model for expanding and developing similar projects at other schools. While she admits that between Jefferson, PSU, and BLERG, it requires an inordinate amount of planning and resources, she believes Towne and Bates’ deliberate, responsive approach is still very much worth the investment. Dougher believes this approach is especially important for introducing students to careers they may not otherwise engage with in a meaningful way.

“It sets up situations for students to interact with different kind of adults, particularly weird adults like artists,” says Dougher. “Most of the adults coming into a school setting are not like that.”

“For me, it’s not ‘Some young people of color saw a role model.’ That’s gross,” adds Bates. “It’s about someone seeing something that made them think about what they’re doing with their work in a different way.”

Black Life Sentinel Issue One

Inside Black Life Sentinel Issue One

In many ways, this undefined approach to working with Jefferson students is reflective of the BLERG project as a whole. By taking on a transdisciplinary approach that encompasses various artistic mediums, as well as community partners and spaces, Towne says it gives the project the advantage of being hard to contain.

“If I’m hitting something as hard and embedded as the white spatial imaginary of Portland and what it has done to generation after generation–if I’m hitting it with all these things in such a massive way, it creates these fissures that can be used in different ways to get to the meat of it and break it apart,” says Towne. “Whereas if it’s one particular angle, I find it’s very easy to get preoccupied with the medium or get preoccupied with the art. But when you use all these different things, it lifts us out of that. Then we can talk about the conceptual underpinning of what we’re dealing with rather than the cool video we saw.”

Going forward, Towne and Bates are working with a local library partner to host more programming that focuses on family and community history in the Humboldt neighborhood. As with all their other programming and activities, the ultimate goal is to create and expand opportunities for different members of Portland’s Black community to engage with each other. Despite the historic apprehension on the part of the City towards most Black organizing, Towne points out that the benefits of this engagement go far beyond the Black community.

“It’s out of that mutuality and solidarity of Black spaces that we see an emergence of the prescription to society’s problems,” says Towne. “As a Black Oregonian seeing and witnessing what that has meant to generation after generation of my family, the values we infuse into space and the way that we take care of people is something that really informs this project.

“When you look at North and Northeast Portland, you see the Black spatial imaginary also included Pacific Islanders. It included Vietnamese refugees. It included all of these people. And that’s what I think I’m interested in. I want people to realize that when we’re centering Blackness, it’s not to exclude anybody, ever. It’s just to acknowledge the way that our values have permeated into the landscape of this place and benefited a lot of people, even in moments of the most devastating segregatory policies of the 20th century.”


¹The presentations will be held at PCC Paragon Gallery from Apr. 4-25.
Derrais (d.a.) Carter, Roshani Thakore, Melanie Stevens, Black Life Experiential Research Group (Sharita Towne and Lisa K. Bates), Kayela J, and Ashley Stull Meyers.
The Humboldt Neighborhood Artist-in-Residence project is a partnership between PCC Cascade, the City of Portland and RACC and made possible with funding from PCC Cascade and City Percent for Art funds from neighborhood street improvements. “It’s cool because it does allow for people to really get into the community and not just put up a tombstone that says, ‘They Black community was here,’” says committee member Donovan Smith. “It really allows them to dig in and find out what the community that’s here needs and reflect that back through different artistic avenues. I also like that they’re going through these different cycles so each artist has the chance to build off the work that came from the artist and residence before them.”


BRUCE POINSETTE  is a versatile freelance writer, copy/content editor, editorialist, and speaker. Poinsette versatile work ranges from content creation to speechwriting. He has authored over 100 articles in five Portland area publications, including The Skanner, The Oregonian, Street Roots, Flossin’ Media, and We Out Here Magazine;  in the collegiate curricula at Portland State University and University of Oregon. As a speaker, Poinsette has made presentations and participated in panels at various churches, K-12 schools, and universities. Poinsette has also conducted workshops on the journalistic interview. Find out more about Bruce and his work here.


Response: Jo Ann Hardesty

For the spring 2018 primary election, RACC distributed a questionnaire to all candidates running for Portland City Council; Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington County Boards of Commissioners; and Metro Council. Each candidate was asked five questions on March 13 or 14, and given the opportunity to respond by March 30 when this story was first published.

Here are the responses provided by Jo Ann Hardesty, running for Portland City Council, position 3. All responses are reprinted verbatim.



RACC: In what specific ways have you supported arts and culture in Portland?

JAH: As chair of the Community Grants Committee for the East Portland Action plan I have advocated for funding support for:

  1. Portland Slavic Festival, 2015, 2016, 2017
  2. JAM Multicultural Festival, hosted by APANO Aug 2017
  3. Jim Pepper Festival 2015, 2016, 2017

Additionally, I am a 12+ year volunteer at the Waterfront Blues Festival, volunteering with KBOO on behalf of the Oregon Food Bank). This past year, as the beneficiary of the event changed I felt obliged to not participate.

On a more personal note, in a past life I was married to a local jazz musician, which exposed me to our local music scene. What struck me most during this time was how incredibly under appreciated world renowned artists were that lived here.  I’m proud that i had the pleasure to know Leroy Vinegar (Bassist), Janice Scroggins (pianist), Linda Hornbuckle (vocalist) who unfortunately have all passed. I’m a huge fan of live music and for fun make it a point to check out old friends like Nancy King, Norman Sylvester, Mel Brown and other local musicians.  In addition I have been a season seat holder at Portland Center Stage and attended the Montavilla Jazz Festival this year and was ask to provide a few words of welcome, which was an honor.

Because of these experiences, I support my friends on the PDX Jazz board who are working to make blues and jazz available to young children/students to pass on this important legacy so it doesn’t die with current musicians.  As President of the NAACP, I worked in coalition with our members and leaders to help create a Black Legacy Project event that highlighted and featured their creations for sale. We also provided awards to several artists in recognition of the challenges faced by artists in Portland such as high rent, dislocation, lack of visibility and marketing assistance.


RACC: Artists and arts organizations add measurable value to our region’s economy, our education system and our quality of life. Yet there are a number of pressing needs in Portland that often compete with arts and culture for attention and investment.  How would YOU describe the importance of arts and culture in our community, and what should Portland be doing to support this sector?

JAH: Artists and arts organizations are vital to a world class city.  Currently we spend 54% of flexible funding on policing services. I believe you know a lot about a city in how they spend discretionary funding.  There is an enormous inequity in how we invest in cultural programs. For example, the Rose Festival has a building on the waterfront for $1 a year yet most arts organizations led by people of color have to put on multi-day cultural festivals on with no assistance from the City of Portland.  I look forward to working with Commissioner Eudaly to ensure we are equitably investing in artists and arts organizations that represent the mosaic of talent in Portland.


RACC: The region’s affordability is a serious concern for everyone in our community. What are your plans for making housing and creative spaces more affordable for artists, nonprofit arts organizations and arts-related businesses?

Arts organizations, artists, and small business owners all are facing the repercussions of gentrification.  We must ensure we maintain affordable artist space and expand access throughout the city. We also need to work to ensure that those spaces remain affordable for the long term. I will work with my colleagues to ensure we don’t miss the opportunity to address this need as a priority along with housing.


RACC: The city’s Arts Tax is disliked by some, while 62% of voters approved it. Thanks to the Arts Tax, every K-5 student in the City of Portland now as an art, music or dance teacher, and dozens of nonprofit arts organizations are expanding access to the arts by providing free and low-cost arts experiences for Portland residents. What changes to the Arts Tax, if any, would you want Portland City Council to consider?

JAH: I’m very concern that some retires are exempt from paying this tax while persons with income at $10,000 are forced to pay this tax.  There are many low-income community members who are experiencing this regressive tax at a time they are challenged with keeping a roof over their head.  We must change state law to allow us to tax those who can most afford it. Having said that i look forward to auditing this process to ensure that those least able to pay for arts education are in fact the true beneficiaries of the funding.


RACC: What are some of your other priorities for the City of Portland that would be of interest to artists, arts organizations and arts educators in our community?

I believe in intersectionality and know that the artistic community, in addition to specific concerns, are also concerns with broad issues impacting our society at large. What I hear most often talking to community members, is fear of being priced out of the neighborhoods people are currently connected to and believe our housing crisis does touch all of us. Additionally, I am very motivated to help address climate change through the Portland Clean Energy Fund as well as ensuring our democracy by bringing campaign finance reform to the city with the implementation of campaign finance reforms hopefully approved by the voters this Fall.

Lastly, I am very interested in learning more from you on how you think the City Council can assist arts organizations and artists more effectively.  I need to hear directly from you, what is working, what are the challenges of your community and what solutions to you believe would address the issues most important to you.


Welcome New RACC Staff

School’s out and summer’s here! While you’re getting ready to attend the countless arts and cultural events happening these warmer months, we’ve got some new faces at RACC we’d like to introduce you to. Meet the newest RACC staff: Jae, Lokyee, and Yessica:

Jae Yeun Choi

Jae received her MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and has taught poetry at Reed College, Portland State University, and the University of Iowa. Her poems have been published in The Volta, A Plume Annual, Tin House, The Iowa Review, and Flying Object’s It’s My Decision series and in exhibitions at 356 S. Mission, 3 Days Awake Gallery, PMoMA, and Good Press Glasgow. Jae thinks of herself as an old hermit, but loves to hit up pretty much any road that ends at a lake, volcano, or hoodoo.

What do you do at RACC?                         

I program artists’ workshops and develop resources aimed at supporting artists in our community with foundational tools and skill-building. I also administer a grant program specific to advancing an artist’s creative practice or business–the Professional Development grant gives up to $2,000 of support to cover costs like travel or registrations costs for artist residencies, workshops, or professional consulting services.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

In karaoke bars, I’m more of a back-up dancer than a singer. But I used to rent karaoke rooms by myself in Little Tokyo to the point of having a punch card, and I’d have a solid time with Kate Bush, Joni Mitchell, and Rihanna.

What’s a secret talent you have, or little-known fact about you?

I’m a super intuitive person, I think I can predict the future sometimes.

How is art a part of your life?

I feel happy that almost element of my day has been totally affected or effected by artists. I’m a poet in my practice and within my communities, but ultimately I don’t believe that art is all that separable from life, regardless of what you do for work or fun. I’m interested in grappling with the question of who is coming up with those definitions or restrictions, and I love when those definitions get messier and are forced to evolve because they can’t be contained. Rules for me are the most helpful tool in giving me something to spring away from.

Complete the sentence: “Arts and culture are  _____________”

I fully believe that “arts and culture” is a patterning, a way for one person to address their least diminished self, then look at another person and see their least diminished self looking back.

Photo of Yessica AvilaYessica Avila

Yessica is a Los Angeles native from Huntington Park. She graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona where she received a BFA in Graphic Design. After graduating in 2012, she began her advocacy work as a volunteer for the local chapter, the Pomona Valley Bicycle Coalition.

Yessica’s family and personal story as first generation immigrants from Mexico is the motivation for her advocacy work for the undocumented and immigrant community. Her work centers on equity for people of color and underrepresented communities. Her professional experience is grounded in community grassroots for anti-gentrification and anti-displacement.

What do you do at RACC?

I am an Arts Education Coordinator for RACC. I manage the communication and outreach of its program The Right Brain Initiative.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

Selena- Dreaming of You/ Selena Como la Flor (sorry Selena is just too good to pick one)

What’s a secret talent you have, or little-known fact about you?

I can stipple forever.

How is art a part of your life?

I was very fortunate to grow up in a city like LA where murals narrate the stories of first generation-immigrants (Chicanos). Today, poetry has become my guide to listening to the people of color outside the Mexican hegemony.

Complete the sentence: “Arts and culture are  _____________”

stories and survival of our history.

Photo of Lokyee AuLokyee Au

Originally from Los Angeles, California, Lokyee is second generation Chinese American, whose roots go back to Hong Kong. Coming from a family of cooks and bankers, she is a first-generation college graduate, and recently completed two master’s degrees from the University of Oregon: Environmental Studies and Community and Regional Planning. A creative of color herself, Lokyee is a firm believer in the critical role arts and culture plays in social movements. Much of her professional and personal work intersects with her background in environmental justice, racial justice, policy, and communications.

What do you do at RACC?                                                                     

As the Communications Manager, I keep a pulse on a number of moving parts. Collaborating closely with the Communications and Community Engagement team, we work to strategically communicate RACC’s work, events, opportunities, and more to the many communities we work with and serve.

What’s your go-to karaoke song?

I Want You Back by Jackson 5

What’s a secret talent you have, or little-known fact about you?

I can beatbox.

How is art a part of your life?

I grew up playing the piano and singing in choirs, so music is a big part of my life. I’m also a self-taught illustrator (I call myself an amateur doodler), inspired by plants and whimsy.

Complete the sentence: “Arts and culture are  _____________”

A reflection of our realities, a tangible imagination of what’s possible, and catalysts for social change.


Get to know the other RACC staff and board by visiting our staff page

Portland Auditor: Clearer Goals, Strong Leadership, Better Results


On May 22, 2018, RACC participated in a Portland City Council work session with Portland Auditor Mary Hull Caballero and her staff as they presented their findings from a 9-month performance audit of the organization.  This is the first ever audit of RACC, and was requested last summer by Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Commissioner Nick Fish. The audit presented an opportunity to examine the relationship between RACC and the City as we negotiate a new five-year service agreement with the City.

While the audit was intended to assess RACC’s performance, the report findings indicated the assessment was difficult because the City does not have clear goals for arts and culture. To improve arts and culture services, the audit suggests clarifying the City’s goals and RACC’s strategy to address these goals. As a result, the auditor delivered five specific recommendations as part of their report:

  1. The Arts Commissioner and the Mayor should work with the Arts Council, City leaders, City agencies involved with arts and- culture, and community stakeholders to: (a) Assess the state of arts and culture in Portland; (b) Identify needs; (c) Develop clear goals, vision, and strategy for arts and culture for City Council adoption.
  2. The Arts Council should conduct a strategic planning process to clarify the organization’s mission, goals and vision for arts and culture. Update bylaws to reflect governing agreements.
  3. City Council should review the intergovernmental agreement with the Arts Council, and in conjunction with other jurisdictions party to it, recommend changes that reflect the appropriate level of board representation and funding from each jurisdiction.
  4. The Arts Commissioner, Mayor, and the Arts Council’s Executive Director should update the contract, consistent with the City’s goals for arts and culture.
  5. The Arts Commissioner and Mayor should appoint a contract administration professional to: (a) Monitor compliance with the contract; (b) Provide technical assistance on performance measurement and reporting to the Arts Council; (c) Review the annual budget submitted by the Arts Council; (d) Develop a consistent mechanism to track all City funding to the Arts Council; (e) Develop procedures for the Art Council’s reporting so that there is consistency over time.


An important clarification:

One statistic reported by the Auditor has created confusion on City Council, and has been mischaracterized by the press. The auditor calculated RACC’s internal expenses, including “salaries, staff training and rent,” as 33% of our overall budget of $11.2 million, but failed to provide any context for that number, leaving the impression that RACC’s internal expenses are excessively high. Working with the auditor’s staff and perusing public records at https://www.portlandoregon.gov/cbo/72512 , we were able to determine that RACC’s “internal expenses” are, in fact, very low compared to the city’s own bureaus. Portland Parks and Recreation has internal expenses of 40%, the Water Bureau is 51%, Equity and Human Rights is 84%, the Auditor is 85% and Fire is 86% — just to name a few. We believe that internal investments, including personnel, are essential to move the city’s agenda forward, but it is important for people to understand that “internal expenses” are not the same as “management and overhead” expenses.

RACC’s independent financial audit confirms that 15% of our budget is spent on management, overhead and fundraising, while 85% of RACC’s budget goes toward program delivery. This includes RACC’s grant awards and public art commissions, of course, but also community engagement staff who actively connect people in underrepresented communities to our services and other arts experiences in town; arts education coaches who train classroom teachers to integrate the arts into their curriculum; and public art maintenance technicians who keep the city’s public art collection in tip-top shape.


Moving forward:

Notwithstanding the City Auditor’s misleading calculations, RACC supports the recommendations in the Auditor’s report. As reflected in interim executive director Jeff Hawthorne’s recent op-ed piece, we look forward to helping the City identify clear goals for arts and culture. In the meantime, RACC continues to strengthen our leadership role within the arts and culture arena.

  • RACC has awarded more than 5,000 grants totaling $44 million in the past 23 years.
  • Our nationally-recognized Public Art Program manages a widely-celebrated public art collection of more than 2,000 artworks for the City of Portland and Multnomah County, and grows artist capacity through programs and resources
  • Through our workplace giving campaigns, we have raised more than $8 million for local arts organizations
  • RACC organizes networking events, forums, and workshops for thousands of artists every year
  • Under our Arts Education programs, RACC builds capacity for teaching artists, educators, and curriculum developers to integrate arts into the K-8 subjects in the region, serving more than 27,000 students a year.
  • For the past three years, RACC has been keenly focused on identifying barriers in arts access and pathways to better serve underrepresented communities. Our 2015 Equity Statement articulates the organization’s equity philosophy and frames how we operate, and we have conducted focus groups to understand barriers to access. More recently, our 2017-18 Community Engagement Plan lays out our strategies to equitably expand outreach, collaboration, and resource distribution efforts. Additionally, we have been developing new programming that fills in gaps in arts participation by artists from marginalized communities, with our Art & Power conversation series as an example.

For more information on these and other RACC program accomplishments, visit RACC’s online annual report for 2017.

We look forward to collaborating with the Mayor, the Arts Commissioner and City staff to implement these recommendations and better support culture, creativity, innovation and the arts in our community.