Culture, creativity and the arts shape Portland's identity — and fuel our economy. Portland has a long history of investing in the arts, supporting artists and arts organizations, building a vibrant public art collection, and funding arts education and access throughout the city.
Created in 2018, the City Arts Program is led by the City Arts Manager who coordinates the arts services provided by the Regional Arts & Culture Council and other programming partners. The City Arts Manager collaborates closely with Commissioner Carmen Rubio, the City Council's liaison to RACC, to advance strategic policy initiatives that support Portland's arts ecosystem.
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.
Regional Arts & Culture Council
The Regional Arts & Culture Council is the City’s primary agent for delivering arts and culture services, including advocacy, grant programs, arts education monitoring, and managing 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 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.
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.
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.
Photo credits at the top of this page, from left to right: A performer from Kalakendra, photo by Dodge and Burn Studios; detail of a mural by Alex Chiu; a recent exhibit at the Portland Art Museum; a performance at Mississippi Studios; Portlandia © Raymond Kaskey.