Council expands staff to support Portland’s arts and culture community

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Arts and culture are essential to our identity as a city. The recovery of our region — especially our downtown — depends on arts and culture.

The visionaries and advocates in our community have been sustaining the heart and soul of Portland during these challenging times. Strategic investments of public dollars can help to incubate new ideas, methods, and frames for cultural expression, particularly among underserved communities. 

As Portland’s Arts & Culture Commissioner since 2021, Commissioner Carmen Rubio recognizes that arts and culture are key drivers and core parts of Portland’s identity — both in terms of our culture and our economy.  The fact has illuminated a need for increased capacity in the City Arts Program, which will now have two new positions: City Arts Policy Advisor & Council Liaison and the Arts Education Coordinator. 

“My goal for expanding capacity is to institutionalize roles in the City that prioritize arts policies and projects in the long term to align with the recently launched cultural planning process,” Commissioner Rubio said. “I look forward to working more closely with the City Arts Program, regional partners, and creative communities to ensure the City’s future investments in arts and culture not only grow and diversify, but thrive.” 

City Arts Policy Advisor & Council Liaison   

Stephan Herrera, who previously served as Commissioner Rubio’s Senior Policy Advisor, has transitioned to be the City Arts Policy Advisor & Council Liaison, a role that is focused on internal and external arts and culture engagement for the City. 

The position is the primary council office liaison to the City Arts Program, will support the cultural planning process and coordinate the City’s engagement and planning efforts around monuments.  

Arts Education Coordinator  

On October 19, Portland City Council amended the Arts Education and Access Income Tax code to create a new Arts Education Coordinator position in the City Arts Program. Formerly housed at the Regional Arts & Culture Council, this position will manage arts education services across Portland’s six school districts, improve oversight of voter investments, and strengthen collaboration between school districts and among arts teachers.  

The City Arts Program has been meeting with school districts and representatives of the Arts Education and Access Fund Oversight Committee to finalize the job description, and recruitment for this position is expected to begin in January. (Watch this space for details.)