Working Proactively to Elevate the Role of Arts + Culture in the City of Portland

News Article
Arts and Culture

Portland, OR- Arts and culture have long been essential to a vibrant and diverse community, and as part of the City of Portland’s commitment to responsibly fostering a strong creative culture with taxpayer investments, the City is restructuring its approach to arts oversight and administration. 

To build a solid foundation of support, engagement, and activity in the arts, the City is establishing the Office of Arts and Culture, formerly known as the City Arts Program. This new office will collaborate with service providers to strengthen and expand the artistic landscape of Portland. 

City Council and the City Arts Program have undertaken a comprehensive review of its collaboration with the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) to align investments in the arts more effectively. 

As a result of this review, the City has decided to move away from a sole-source contract with RACC and will not be renewing its contract when it is scheduled to expire in June 2024.

Instead, the City will pursue a more diverse approach by issuing Requests for Proposals (RFPs) for service contracts that better match the expanding budget and scope of responsibilities for arts and culture.  

This new model will enable the City to work with multiple service providers, establish stronger performance measures, and reduce its investment in loosely defined administration and overhead expenses, all to ensure a broader and more effective reach in delivering arts-related grants and services. 

City Council have unanimously agreed that this is the best way to move forward and wants RACC to participate in this reset, as RACC will be invited to bid on these contracts.   

Commissioner Ryan is leading the City's efforts to proactively redefine the role of arts and culture in the new government structure. The City is investing time and energy into planning and initiating new relationships and partnerships to maximize the impact of taxpayer dollars in this area. 

The City values RACC as an essential partner in promoting arts and culture over the past three decades. As Portland transitions into the new government structure, RACC will continue to be an invaluable source of ideas, recommendations, and facilitation. The City is eager to learn from RACC's upcoming strategic planning process to better understand its desired role in supporting the diverse arts and culture ecosystem of Portland and the region. In addition, a regional cultural planning process is now underway that will establish a new vision for arts and culture in early 2024. This plan will help shed further light on the best role for a regional arts service provider, and identify goals and strategies that local governments, including the City of Portland, should pursue to better support of arts and culture over the next ten years. 

Clear, transparent communication and uninterrupted service is of utmost importance during this transition. The City, together with RACC, is committed to sharing these decisions and steps with Portland's arts community and the public. The vision, underlying ideas, changes in the system, and the reasons behind these transformations will be communicated throughout the process to keep Portlanders informed and engaged. 

With this strategic approach to arts and culture, the City of Portland aims to foster a more dynamic, inclusive, and thriving artistic community that reflects the diverse spirit of the City.