Portland, Oregon – Responding to COVID-19’s harm to historically under-served communities, Arts & Culture Commissioner Carmen Rubio and the City Arts Program announced the recipients of grants to reinvigorate community-based artistic programming.
Grantees were selected for their relationships and cultural contributions to Portland’s communities. They have track records honoring ancestral lineage, languages and dialects, and culturally-rooted customs and artistic expression. They have worked in the face of oppression, forging new relationships and in juxtaposition to dominant spaces and dominant culture narratives, behaviors, and customs. These grants will help groups and organizations recover and reinvigorate cultural programming that was impacted by the pandemic.
The grants are funded with $500,000 in funds from the American Rescue Plan (ARPA). All organizations that applied received some funding between $5,000 and $35,000. Recipients are:
- 1 World Chorus
- Black United Fund of Oregon
- Boom Arts
- East Portland Neighbors
- en Taiko
- Equitable Giving Circle
- Friends of Noise
- Future Prairie
- Japanese American Museum of Oregon
- Lan Su Chinese Garden
- NAYA Family Center
- New Expressive Works
- New Year in the Park
- Open Signal
- Ori Art Gallery
- Portland Taiko
- Pride Northwest Inc.
- Rejoice! Diaspora Dance Theater
- Somali American Council of Oregon
- Steps PDX - Steps for Youth
- Theatre Diaspora
- Vanport Mosaic
- World Arts Foundation
- World Stages Theatre
- YGB Portland
Specific details on the request for proposals can be found here, as well as a thorough timeline of the application and review process.
“It is my hope that these funds can incubate new ideas, methods, and frames for cultural expression,” said Commissioner Carmen Rubio. “I’m thrilled that we had such a tremendous slate of applicants, and that we were able to fund 100% of applicants. These grants are a key piece of building belonging together as we reopen Portland.”
Mark Takiguchi, Interim Deputy Director at the Japanese Museum of Oregon, captured a feeling shared by many grantees: “This resource gives us hope and allows us to pursue the cultural programming that we might otherwise have to abandon or reduce.”
Many grantees had specific cultural programming the grants would support.
“Funds from this grant will allow us to pay larger stipends to the teen sound engineers in our Sound Squad Supreme program,” said Friends of Noise Executive Director Andre Middleton, “as well as purchase more equipment so that our Sound Services Division can better accommodate the event needs of our clients in the community.”
“We had an overwhelming amount of interest and excitement for Steps for Youth, our youth BIPOC dance program, this past spring,” said Monica Parra, Step PDX’s Director of Education and Community Engagement. “This grant will allow us to expand in the fall, providing a safe place for multicultural and multiracial families to meet, feel supported, build community, and contribute to their overall wellness.”
"These funds will help us to finally initiate and grow programming put on hold by the pandemic,” said Pride Northwest’s Executive Director, Debra Porta. “In particular, this grant will help us lift up and foster the artistic talent and aspirations of our LGBTQIA2S+ young people."
“Funds from this grant will enable us to provide free drumming, chorus, and video production classes for under-resourced youth in the Portland Metro area this summer and fall,” said 1 World Chorus Director Aaron Nigel Smith.
The Black United Fund of Oregon expects to spend their grant to support their NE Alberta Cultural Preservation Project, which was launched in 2021. “The project chronicles the history of historically-Black North and Northeast Portland,” said Dr. LM Alaiyo Foster, the President and Chief Executive Officer. “With this grant, we can collect and disseminate even more photographs, video footage, artifacts, artwork, and first person testimony for the thousands of annual visitors we anticipate.”
"We are incredibly grateful to have the support of our city as we continue to make and share art in person and online," Future Prairie's Creative Director, Joni Renee Whitworth, said. "Our grant will help us expand our archival podcast, Future Prairie Radio, which provides a platform for marginalized Portland-based artists to discuss their creative practices and provide unique and queer perspectives on our society."
"Funds will help Portland Taiko enhance our artistry and educational programs,” said Board Co-Chair Carolyn Saiget. “Portland Taiko is eager to be able to continue to affirm Asian-American pride, inspire and educate audiences, and build community through the power of music as they have 27 years in the greater Portland area."
The Native American Youth and Family Center’s Director of Youth and Education Services, Daniel Guilfoyle, made a similar point, noting that the organization’s grant. “will allow us to increase its capacity to provide Cultural Arts programming for the Native American and Alaska Native community in Portland.
“With this support, Lan Su Chinese Garden will further our efforts in community-oriented cultural programs,” said Venus Sun, Senior Director of Culture & Community Engagement. “One example is our ‘This is She’ program series, which highlights the life stories of BIPOC female leaders in our community.”
Subashini Ganesan-Forbes, Founder and Executive Director of New Expressive Works, said their grant would enable them to, “dig even deeper into our decade long commitment to be honest, transparent, and fierce partners in uplifting the resilience and empowerment of our cultural communities."
About Commissioner Rubio
Commissioner Carmen Rubio joined the Portland City Council in January 2021. She oversees Portland Parks and Recreation, the Bureau of Planning and Sustainability, the Office for Community Technology, and the Office of Equity and Human Rights; has liaison responsibilities to the Mt. Hood Cable Regulatory Commission, League of Oregon Cities, Metro Policy Advisory Committee, and Portland Community Media; and serves as Portland’s Arts Commissioner.
About the City Arts Program
The City Arts Program was established in 2018 to coordinate arts services across bureaus and to oversee the City’s contract with the Regional Arts & Culture Council. This summer, the City will launch a comprehensive cultural planning process to develop a vision for arts and culture in the region; for more information visit portland.gov/omf/cityarts.