The City Arts Program invests in public art, education and grants.
From community murals to performance art shows, arts and culture shape Portland's identity — and fuel its economy. Portland has a long history of investing in the arts, building a vibrant collection of public art and supporting a rich network of independent arts organizations.
Created in 2018, the City Arts Program coordinates arts investments, ensures accountability and transparency, and works to make sure all Portland residents benefit from the arts. The program is charged with developing a vision for arts and culture in greater Portland, and creating a policy framework to help achieve it. This work is intended to deliver on recommendations from the City Auditor, who in 2018 called for a clear vision, goals and reporting on public art investments.
Led by a City Arts Manager, the program serves as a partner to the community and works with the City Council liaison to RACC, currently Commissioner Carmen Rubio, to advance strategic policy initiatives that supports the arts ecosystem.
Regional Arts & Culture Council
The City Arts Program manages the contract with the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), the City’s arts agent. RACC provides a broad range of arts services on behalf of the City and region, including advocacy, grants administration, arts education monitoring, and stewardship of the City's public art program.
Percent for art
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.
Arts Education and Access Fund
Funded by an annual tax of $35 per adult, the Arts Education and Access Fund supports arts and music education in local 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 the Regional Arts & Culture Council to award grants to nonprofit organizations. A minimum of 5 percent of funds distributed to RACC must go toward schools and nonprofit organizations that provide high-quality arts experiences to students, with an emphasis on underserved communities. The remaining funds provide general operating support grants a wide range of high-quality arts programs to the public.