Some disappointing news out of Oregon. Portland is withdrawing support and participation from the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC), an independent organization that handles granting and arts education activities in Portland and three surrounding counties. I had written about RACC and Portland’s support of arts and culture before. RACC had been strongly encouraging groups to work toward diversifying their boards, staff and audiences years before it became more of a national focus.
The city has been developing their own arts office which will take up much of the work RACC had done. According to the article, the relationship between the city and RACC had been strained for some time now.
Over the years the city has displayed unrest over the regional approach, with complaints from the city auditor’s office and some city council members that RACC wasn’t providing them with sufficient financial information.
What will the breakup mean for the city and its metropolitan neighbors? It comes at a time when the tri-county area is in the midst of developing a long-term strategy, called Our Creative Future, for regional arts: Presumably, that strategy-in-the-making will have to take a sharp turn.
Writing for Oregon Artswatch, Bob Hicks suggests the timing of this announcement introduces less stability to the already shaky operating environment arts and cultural organizations in the Portland are experiencing as they try to navigate a post-Covid losses, inflation and audience reluctance to return.