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Portland Parks Commissioner Carmen Rubio, Portland Parks & Recreation (PP&R), and the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center (IFCC) Community Advisory Committee are pleased to announce efforts to advance the community-led vision for the beloved public space at IFCC. The IFCC Community Advisory Committee (CAC) proposes the building be redeveloped as a site where the history of Portland's Black community - and its rich arts and culture contributions - can be presented, displayed, discussed, and honored. This vision is moving forward.
The City has issued a Request For Proposals (RFP) for a feasibility study that will produce market, financial, and operational analyses to determine a sustainable operating plan for IFCC – a plan that is in alignment with the community’s vision. Submissions are due by 4:00 pm on October 21, 2021. This effort is funded by the 2020 Parks Local Option Levy (Parks Levy). Additionally, the Portland City Council has received money from the American Rescue Plan Act to develop a grant/residency program to support Black artists at IFCC.
The Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center is a community arts center located at 5340 N Interstate Avenue, in North Portland’s Overlook neighborhood. The building was originally constructed in 1910 and used as a fire station until 1959. Portland's first Black City Commissioner and PP&R Director, Charles Jordan, established IFCC as a North Portland community space and a focal point for Black culture in 1982.
IFCC was managed by the nonprofit organization IFCC, Inc. until 2010 when that nonprofit concluded its operations. Management authority was given to Ethos, Inc., which returned responsibilities to the City of Portland in 2014. Since 2018, the building has been utilized for short-term, multi-week leasing by arts organizations which align with the IFCC’s current project goals.
In 2018, PP&R was charged with developing a community-driven plan to reopen IFCC as a center for arts & culture with the following goals:
- Respect and honor IFCC’s history and roots in the Black community
- Uphold IFCC’s original mission to explore, preserve and celebrate Portland’s diversity; and
- Advance the City of Portland’s commitment to racial equity.
In July 2018, former Parks Commissioner Amanda Fritz appointed a Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to develop a vision and recommend a sustainable operating model for IFCC. In April 2019, the IFCC CAC submitted a report to Long and the late former Parks Commissioner Nick Fish. To realize this vision, the CAC recommended that the center operate under a nonprofit organization managing the site in partnership with the City of Portland. The report also demonstrated through financial analysis that program operations are unsustainable in the current facility due to its size, space constraints, and unreinforced masonry (URM) status.
In July 2020, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and Long stated their support of the CAC’s vision and the formation of a partner nonprofit organization.
- Fall 2021 - Winter 2021/22: Consultant selection and contracting for Feasibility Study
- Winter 2021/22 - Spring 2023: Feasibility Study
Community Advisory Committee Members
A Community Advisory Committee was appointed in June 2018 to develop a sustainable plan to re-envision and re-activate IFCC as a center for arts and culture, with the goals to:
- Respect and honor IFCC's history and roots in the African American community
- Uphold IFCC's original mission to explore, preserve and celebrate Portland’s diversity
- Advance the City of Portland's commitment to racial equity
As the Committee develops a thoughtful, long-term plan for IFCC, PP&R recognizes there is an immediate and urgent need for creative space in Portland at present.
In February 2018, the City adopted “A Plan for Preserving and Expanding Affordable Arts Space in Portland.” PP&R is committed to fulfilling the Plan by supporting the IFCC Community Advisory Committee to “develop a strategy for culturally-specific creative spaces” (Recommendation XVIII) and by “providing short-term affordable leases for interim uses ahead of future development” (Recommendation XVII).
Community Advisory Committee members:
- Antoinette Edwards (Office of Youth Violence Prevention, retired)
- Cynthia Sulaski (Overlook Neighborhood Association)
- Donovan Smith (Gentrification is WEIRD!, artist, writer, speaker, producer)
- Dr. S. Renee Mitchell (I Am MORE, artist, writer)
- Helen Daltoso (Regional Arts & Culture Council)
- Jeana Woolley (JM Woolley & Associates, community developer)
- Patricia Welch (North Portland Library, retired)
- Prentice Onayemi (Grains of Salt, artist)
- Rob Smith (PHAME, artist)
- Subashini Ganesan-Forbes (Former Creative Laureate of Portland, New Expressive Works)
The CAC is currently meeting monthly on Zoom. If you would like to attend, please contact Maija Spencer at firstname.lastname@example.org.