About the City Arts Program

Information
Lizzie Weeks Mural by Kayin Talton Davis
Investing in artists, community-based arts programs, arts education and public art.

(Image above: "We've Been Here," a mural in the Lizzie K. Weeks Room of the Portland Building, by Kayin Talton Davis)

Arts and culture are integral to our community and vital to Portland's identity as a center of creativity. Artists and creative workers help define our culture, fuel our economy, and enhance our quality of life. We celebrate creativity in all its forms so that communities can connect, companies can flourish, and students can succeed in school and in life.

The role of the City Arts Program is to support Portland's arts and culture ecosystem and expand opportunities for Portlanders to participate in creative experiences. Jeff Hawthorne is the City Arts Program Manager, and he collaborates with the City's Arts Commissioner, Carmen Rubio, to oversee the arts services provided by the Regional Arts & Culture Council and to coordinate arts-related services provided by City bureaus and other programming partners. 

This fall, a coalition of local government agencies, led by the City of Portland, will launch a comprehensive cultural planning process to develop a new vision for arts and culture in the Portland metro region, and to create a policy framework to help achieve that vision. We look forward to sharing more information in October and hope you will participate in these important conversations in the year ahead!  

Our primary arts services provider is the Regional Arts & Culture Council

The Regional Arts & Culture Council delivers a wide array of arts and culture services, including advocacy, grantmaking programs, and managing the City's public art program.

Public art and the Percent-for-Art program

The Percent for Art program dedicates two-percent of the cost of the City's qualifying infrastructure projects to purchase public art, under the guidance of RACC. Created in 1980, the program originally committed one-percent of qualifying project funds. City Council doubled the funding level in 2005.

Thousands of pieces of art have been placed across Portland, from City buildings downtown to neighborhood installations. Today, the program focuses on purchasing art from underrepresented artists and adding art in historically undeserved communities.

Explore Portland's public art collection.

Grants for artists and nonprofit organizations

In FY21-22, the City will invest more than $3.6 million in grants through the Regional Arts & Culture Council. Visit racc.org for a summary of grant programs and deadlines.

Arts Education and Access Fund  

Funded by an annual income tax of $35 per adult, the Arts Education and Access Fund supports arts and music education in K-5 schools and grants to local nonprofit organizations.

Funds are distributed based on student population to hire arts or music teachers  for kindergarten through fifth grade students at the six districts in the city: Portland Public, David Douglas, Centennial, Parkrose, Reynolds and Riverdale.

Remaining funds go to RACC to award grants to support arts access. A minimum of 5 percent of funds distributed to RACC must go toward schools and nonprofit organizations that provide high-quality arts experiences with and for underserved communities. The remaining funds provide general operating support grants to a wide range of local arts organizations.

Other helpful links

The Arts Empowerment Program in the City's Bureau of Development Services guides artists and arts organizations through the permit process when creating or transforming space. Art is a powerful tool for equity and we prioritize project assistance to Black, Indigenous, People of Color and persons with disabilities. By supporting artists and arts organizations, this program hopes to ensure the creation and retention of affordable and safe arts spaces in Portland.

Are you looking to paint a mural? There are two options: RACC's public art murals program provides up to $5,000 in matching funds for murals that become part of the city's public art collection, and the City's original art mural program issues permits for other murals.

Portland Parks & Recreation provides a number of other arts and culture programs, services and opportunities; visit portland.gov/parks/arts-culture for more information.