Our Creative Future: Co-creating an arts and cultural plan for all

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Over the next year, Portlanders will be invited to shape the future of arts and culture in our region.
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Creativity is in us all and is all around us. Crossing city and county lines, arts, culture and creative expression exist everywhere, every day, from the songs sung on the biggest stages to the family dinners made with recipes passed down from generations.

Across the greater Portland region, local governments are partnering to launch a cultural planning process and set the vision for the next generation of arts and culture in our communities. This effort is being led by staff from the City Arts Program and Portland City Commissioner Carmen Rubio’s office; Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington counties; the cities of Hillsboro and Beaverton; the Metro regional government and the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), with financial support from these agencies as well as Travel Portland, Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation District, and the James F. & Marion L. Miller Foundation.

Over the next year, community members will be invited to connect to this process and shape the future of arts and culture in our region – celebrating successes, identifying gaps and developing strategies to meet those needs.

The process kicks off this week when the steering committee of 24 community members, representing diverse perspectives from across the region, meets for the first time. Nominated by participating jurisdictions, the steering committee will help design engagement strategies to reach communities and individuals who can offer fresh ideas and insight to harness emerging opportunities and overcome longstanding challenges.

The steering committee will also advise the staff team throughout the planning process, and ultimately co-create the vision, goals, and strategies of the plan.

“It’s easy to take arts and culture for granted in a region as vibrant as ours,” said Portland City Commissioner Carmen Rubio, who serves as the city’s arts commissioner. “It’s also all too easy for civic engagement processes to overlook voices who might hold the key to unlocking well-known challenges or harnessing unique opportunities. That’s why it will be important to hear from as many people as possible.”

Community engagement activities will begin early next year, through interviews, listening sessions, community surveys, and other channels. A plan that sets a new vision for the next generation of arts and culture in the region will be developed later in 2023 and presented to Portland City Council and other government agencies for adoption in early 2024.

The process is being guided by Cultural Planning Group, a national firm that specializes in developing cultural arts plans for cities and counties, and Metropolitan Group, a Portland-headquartered social purpose creative and strategic consulting agency. They are committed to creating a plan by, with and for the communities that make up greater Portland’s cities and counties. 

“We look forward to collaborating with many community partners in the months ahead to set a new vision for culture, creativity and the arts in our region,” said Jeff Hawthorne, arts program manager for the City of Portland. “We are also committed to articulating strategies that local governments should pursue to ensure a vibrant arts and culture sector for years to come.”

A new website to support the cultural planning process will be launched in January. You can sign up to receive updates in the meantime, or follow the City of Portland on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.