Jan 30, 2024 - News

Arts Bureau to control public grants for artists

Illustration of M.C. Escher hand drawing another hand holding a stack of money

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Portland's plan to manage arts funding is shifting.

What's happening: Arts Commissioner Dan Ryan said last year his arts and culture program will not renew its contract with the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC), which has been doling out millions since 1995.

  • As of July 1, the city will no longer supply RACC with the bulk of its $7.5 million budget.

Why it matters: Portland aims to stimulate the post-COVID arts sector by treating it as an arm of economic development. The city thinks it can save money on administrative costs and give more to artists.

Driving the news: Thursday is the deadline for other nonprofits to apply to manage grants for arts organizations (orchestras, museums) and artists.

At a series of arts conversations with the public last year, Ryan and his team stressed that they could save $1 million in administrative costs by not using RACC.

The City Council was also unimpressed with RACC's 2022 report, saying "RACC could not answer basic questions about the organization's finances, what the impacts of the City's investments have been, and who was being served."

What's next: The new nonprofits will be announced in April, and grants go out to artists in September as usual.

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