City Arts Program releases 2021-22 report (2024)


The City Arts Program was established in 2018 following a recommendation from the City Auditor that the City’s contract with the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) required more oversight. The City Arts Program delineates and tracks RACC’s funding and time spent on the City’s arts and culture priorities, and the collaborates closely with the Council Liaison to RACC, Commissioner Carmen Rubio, to ensure that RACC’s services are aligned with its contract requirements.

RACC has been the City’s primary arts and culture service provider since 1995, when the City’s Metropolitan Arts Commission was spun off into an independent 501(c)(3) organization designed to serve the broader tri-County region, including Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties. Today, the City invests in RACC through three funding streams:

  • special appropriations from the general fund ($3,796,363 million in FY22);
  • some of the proceeds of theArts Education and Access Fund ($2,103,525 in FY22);and
  • the percent-for-program, which stipulates that 2% of any publicly funded capital construction project to pay for the acquisition and maintenance of public art. ($357,834 in FY22).

In July, 2021, the City entered into a new three-year agreement with RACC to continue providing arts-related services through June2024 – including grants to artists and nonprofit organizations, and managing the city’s public art collection. This contract features a new, quarterly reporting schedule, and performance measures designed to monitor progress toward our shared goal of ensuring that all Portlanders have access to arts and culture – with a special focus on historically underrepresented populations, including Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander and Multiracial communities; LGBTQIA+ communities; and individuals with disabilities.

City Arts Program Budget

The City Arts Program received $4,245,043 in Special Appropriations (General Fund) in FY2021-22, including $3,796,363 for contract services provided by RACC. The City Arts Program also secured $90,000 in grants from the private sector to support last year’s Community Healing through Art initiative.

The City Arts Program has received $4,414,845 in Special Appropriations (General Fund) this fiscal year, FY2022-23, including $3,922,218 for contract services provided by RACC. The City Arts Program has also raised over $200,000 from other public agencies and private partners to support our Cultural Planning initiative.

Role of the City Arts Program

In partnership with the Commissioner-in-Charge of the City’s arts & culture portfolio, Commissioner Carmen Rubio, the City Arts Program works alongside RACC and other partners to support Portland’s diverse arts and culture ecosystem, and to expand opportunities for all Portlanders to participate in creative experiences. We are guided by the City’s Core values of Anti-racism, Equity, Transparency, Communication, Collaboration, and Fiscal Responsibility. We also value the role of arts and culture as a catalyst for innovation – in the arts sector, across the creative economy, and in our classrooms – and we believe that everyone in the City of Portland should have equal access to a full, vibrant creative life. Access to culture, creativity and the arts are essential to a healthy and democratic society.

Under Commissioner Rubio’s leadership, the City Arts Program has expanded its capacity and increased opportunities to support our arts and culture ecosystem above and beyond the services provided by RACC, and this report is focused on the direct services and value provided by the City Arts Program.

RACC provides a separate report on its finances, programs, and performance measures.

Program Highlights

Cultural Planning.Thirty years ago, the City and other local government agencies adopted “Arts Plan 2000,” and established the Regional Arts & Culture Council as our primary arts service provider a few years later. Portland and the region have changed a lot since then, and we are excited to be embarking on a new cultural planning process to assess the state of arts and culture today, and to develop a bold new vision for the next generation of arts and culture in our communities.

The City Arts Program is leading this effort, and several local government agencies and nonprofit partners have joined our coalition, including Multnomah County and Metro; the Clackamas County Cultural Alliance and Tualatin Valley Creates; the cities of Hillsboro and Beaverton; and RACC. We have also received financial support from Travel Portland and Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District, and a generous grant from the James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation.

A steering committeeof 24 community members will guide this work going forward. Nominated by staff and elected officials from the participating jurisdictions, steering committee members represent diverse perspectives from across the region, and multiple sectors of the community, including arts, culture, creative economy,education, business, social justice, “unlikely allies,” and others. Working with our planning consultants (Cultural Planning Group and Metropolitan Group), they will help us design engagement strategies that reach deep into underrepresented communities, and ultimately co-create the vision, goals, and strategies of the plan, which will be completed in early 2024. The steering committee includes:

  • Nat Andreini,Portland All Nations Canoe Family
  • Trieste Andrews,Oregon City Arts Commission
  • Nicole Bradin,Washington County Visitors Association
  • Julie Bunker,Patricia Reser Center for the Arts
  • Joe Cantrell,artist
  • Gus Castaneda,Aloft Hotel
  • Corinn DeTorres,TriptheDark Dance Co.
  • Jerry Foster,PassinArt
  • Subashini Ganesan-Forbes,NEW Expressive Works
  • John Goodwin,Portland Art Museum
  • Kimberly Howard Wade,Caldera
  • Kamil Khan,Beaverton Downtown Association
  • Jaimie Lorenzini,Happy Valley Policy Analyst
  • Barbara Mason,artist
  • Dr. S. Renee Mitchell,I Am More
  • Jeremy Okai David,artist
  • Sushmita Poddar,small business owner
  • Sankar Raman,The Immigrant Story
  • Barbara Steinfeld,consultant
  • Karis Stoudamire-Phillips,MERC Commission
  • Toni Tabora Roberts,consultant
  • Tonisha Toler,Collins Foundation
  • Sharita Towne,artist
  • Tammy Jo Wilson,Art in Oregon

Council Office and Cross-Bureau Collaborations: Over the past year, the City Arts Program has led and/or partnered with Commissioner Rubio’s office to support a wide range of projects in collaboration with other Council Offices and City Bureaus, including:

  • Monthly convening of City Hall Arts Policy Liaisons to inform and seek feedback from Council offices.
  • Community Healing through Art, a series of arts engagements tohelp Portlanders processthe emotional toll ofthe events of the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recession, racial justice reckoning, and multiple climate-related emergencies. We appreciate how this Council has spoken about the importance of artists in our economic recovery and emotional healing.
  • Installing new Indigenous artwork in the Mayor’s Office, by Don Bailey (Hoopa Valley Reservation), Bobby Mercier (Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde) and Asa Wright (Klamath/Modoc/Yahooskin).
  • Sponsoring a wide variety of community-based arts events in collaboration with Council Offices, including El Grito Portland Festival, Historic Parkrose Farmers and Makers Market, Portland Chinese Festival, Portland Parks & Recreation Tonga Day, Portland Veterans Day Parade, the Royal Rosarians, and Race Talks: The History of Black Drag in Portland.
  • Convening staff across City bureaus who are engaged in arts-related projects and programs to increase awareness and share resources. Portland Parks & Recreation, PBOT, the Bureau of Development Services, other City bureaus, and Prosper Portland all partner with artists and arts organizations in meaningful ways, and have important roles to play in supporting the City’s vibrant arts and culture ecosystem.
  • Supporting the City’s Tribal Relations program and INDÍGENA, an Indigenous storytelling collective, in showcasing Indigenous portraits in public spaces across the City of Portland throughout Native American Heritage Month.
  • In response to Council Resolution 37576, the City Arts Program has been convening staff from PBOT, the Water Bureau, RACC, and other partners to restore the Thompson Elk Fountain to its original location and condition, with the addition of a recirculating water pump. The Portland Parks Foundation has been a critical partner in this effort, leading the feasibility and design process, and last month we presented their plans publicly in a Design Advice Request hearing, and received positive feedback from the Historic Landmarks Commission and other community members. We are now finalizing those designs and preparing for the Type III Historic Resource Review that should pave the path for restoration work to begin next year.

Creative Laureates.In June of 2021, Commissioner Carmen Rubio and the City Arts Program named Leila Haile and Joaquin Lopez as our new Creative Laureates, to serve as the City’s official ambassadors to the broader creative community. Leila and Joaquin have been active advocates for Portland’s diverse arts and culture ecosystem, and we are excited to bring them to Council next spring, before their two-year terms expire, to share their experiences and insights. Each Creative Laureate receives an annual honorarium of $5,000, and this year the City Arts Program is providing additional funds to help support their community-based programs.

ARPA Program Management. Thanks to the advocacy of Commissioner Rubio and with the support the of City Council, the City Arts Program is managing four projects as part of the City’s strategy to invest $208 million from the U.S. government's American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). Of this sum, City Council allocated $2 million to provide support for artistswho identify as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander and People of Color; LGBTQIA+ artists;artists with disabilities; and other under-served and under-represented artists.The specific initiatives being managed by the City Arts Program are:

  • Activating the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center($500,000): Portland Parks & Recreation and the City Arts Program are providing free space and residency grants to artists to present public programs at the IFCC, which is emerging as a Center for Black Arts and Culture. The first round of resident artists, selected in October, include Domo Branch, James Bullock, Breana DePriest, Future Prairie/Onry, Kwik Jones, Machado Mijiga, Lauren Modica, Brian Parham, Aaron Spriggs, and Studio Abioto & Black Art/ists Gathering. 100% of all artists-in-residence funded thus far identify as Black or African and American, and applications for the next cycle of grants and residencies will open next summer.
  • Indigenous Public Art($500,000): The City Arts Program has contracted with theNative American Youth and Family Center (NAYA)and is collaborating with NAYA and RACC to procure and install new public artworks celebrating Indigenous culture in the Cully neighborhood. The project is underway and will continue into 2024.
  • Support for Artists in Under-represented Communities($500,000): The City Arts Program established a beneficiary agreement with RACCto provide grants ranging from $500 to $5,000 to support artists and other creatives in underserved and under-represented communities, including but not limited to artists who identify as Black, Indigenous,Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander and People of Color; LGBTQIA+; and artists with disabilities.
  • Resiliency Support for Cultural Organizations($500,000):In collaboration with the Office of Commissioner Carmen Rubio, the City Arts Program awarded $500,000 to 29 community-based, cultural nonprofit organizations to help reinvigorate artistic programs in their communities.Beneficiaries include:

Together, these 29 organizations employ 672 Full-Time-Equivalent employees, 75% of whom identify as Black, Indigenous, and People of Color.

More demographic information on these organizations and other American Rescue Plan beneficiaries can be found on the City’s Open Data Portal at the Rescue Plan Open Data.

Program Growth: We are excited to strengthen our collaborations with City Council to develop a more robust approach to arts and culture policy strategy with the addition of Stephan Herrera, formerly senior policy advisor for Commissioner Rubio, now Arts Policy Advisor and Council Liaison for the City Arts Program. And in January, 2023, the City Arts Program will launch recruitment efforts for a new Arts Education Coordinator position to support and coordinate services across Portland’s six school districts who benefit from the Arts Education & Access Fund (AEAF), also referred to as the Arts Tax, and to support the work of our AEAF Oversight Committee.

Cultural Planning: We are grateful to City Council members who have participated in our cultural planning process so far, and we look forward to engaging you further in the year ahead. Community engagement activities will begin in earnest in February, 2023, and Council can expect a completed plan, along with recommendations for your consideration, to be presented in the spring of 2024.

Monuments: Parallel with our cultural planning process, the City Arts Program and Commissioner Rubio’s Office are collaborating with community partners to develop an inclusive and thorough community engagement process that will help City Council make some decisions about the monuments that were toppled in the summer of 2020.

We are grateful to Portland City Council for recognizing the value of arts and culture in our communities. Your investments are so important – now more than ever – as we focus on our economic and emotional recovery.

We are especially grateful to Commissioner Rubio and her team for their keen interest in understanding and strengthening the relationship between artsstakeholders and the city. As Council's Commissioner-in-Charge of the City’s arts & culture portfolio, and liaison to RACC, her leadership has illuminated many collaborative and innovative opportunities to support Portland’s arts community, and to shine a light on the impact of artists and creatives as key drivers of our economy and a core part of Portland’s cultural identity.

City Arts Program releases 2021-22 report (2024)
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