News from the City Arts Program                             

We hope the new year is treating you well so far, even as we continue to navigate all of the uncertainties of an ongoing pandemic. The disruptions to our arts and culture sector remain a significant challenge, and we are pleased to learn that State Representative Rob Nosse (D-Portland) will be introducing a bill to invest another $50 million to support arts and cultural organizations negatively affected by the pandemic; follow the Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon for more details. In the meantime, here are some updates from the City Arts Program. 

Monuments and Memorials: What Comes Next

Last fall, Portland’s Monuments and Memorials Project presented an exhibit of more than 30 artworks and proposals examining the question, what is an appropriate monument or memorial for our time and our place? As Karly Quadros reported in Street Roots, projects ranged from “a striking video of an artist dancing atop the vacated base of a toppled Confederate monument to a newspaper page imagining the futures of Sandra Bland, Philando Castile, and others had their lives not been cut short by police violence.” 

To expand on this conversation, the Portland City Council has allocated $50,000 for a comprehensive, community-based process that will help City Council decide what to do with five specific monuments that were toppled or removed in the summer of 2020: Harvey Scott, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt Rough Rider, and Promised Land.

The project, led by the Office of Commissioner Carmen Rubio and the City Arts Program, will also inform new public policies and procedures for considering monuments and memorials in the future. The City expects to issue an RFP in February for a consultant to design and conduct a public process this spring, with extensive engagement in communities that are underrepresented in the City’s public art collection. For more information, visit the City Arts Program website

IFCC at night

American Rescue Plan Funding for Arts and Culture

When City Council allocated nearly $104 million in American Rescue Plan Recovery Funds last year, they included $2 million for relief and recovery for local artists of color. We’ve been working diligently to shape four distinct initiatives to distribute these funds in the months ahead:  
  • $500,000 will be invested in procuring and installing artworks that celebrate Indigenous culture in the Cully neighborhood. The City recently published a request for proposals for a community partner to lead this project, and we expect to award a contract in February or March. 
  • $500,000 will be invested in culturally specific nonprofit organizations to support artistic programming in their communities. Eligibility requirements and application materials will be published on in early February.
  • $500,000 has been allocated to provide free space and residency grants for artists presenting public programs at the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center. While the City prepares to launch a feasibility study to support the future vision of this space as a Black Arts and Culture Center, we are also working with the IFCC’s Community Advisory Committee to program the space over the next two years using the Rescue Plan funds. Watch for updates published on the IFCC website soon.  
  • The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) will manage and distribute $500,000 for artists in under-represented communities, including artists who identify as Black, Indigenous, Latinx, Asian, Pacific Islander, and people of color; LGBTQIA+; and artists with disabilities. Applications will be available later this spring (in April or May) at to support artistic projects as well as emergency needs. 

You can learn more about these and other American Rescue Plan investments in the City of Porltand at   

More Relief Funds Available

The Oregon Arts Commission, the Oregon Community Foundation and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation are partnering to invest another $1.5 million in support for artists’ recovery from the pandemic. Applications for the Artist Resilience Program are available now through February 10, 2022. 

City Seeks Proposals from Cultural Planning Consultants

The City has been collaborating with a coalition of regional partners to launch a comprehensive cultural planning process this summer. This planning effort, which will include robust community engagement activities and abundant opportunities for input, will help us assess the state of arts and culture in our region, identify opportunities, address inequities, and develop a clear vision for arts and culture going forward. 
Later this month, we will open our search for qualified consultants (individuals, firms or teams) with experience helping government agencies conduct a cultural planning process. The lead consultant we ultimately select this spring will help design and manage the cultural planning process over the next two years. Interested parties can watch for an RFQ (Request For Qualifications) to be posted on the City’s vendor portal no later than February 1, with responses due February 17. 


Charter Review

In Case You Missed It... 

  • Portland's independent Charter Commission has embarked upon a once-in-a-decade opportunity to review and revise the City's Charter (basically the City’s constitution) and recommend changes for Portland voters to consider. Your input now will help the Charter Commission better understand how community members would like to be served by city government and represented by our city’s elected leaders. We encourage you to participate in the Charter Commission's online survey by January 24.
  • RACC’s annual report for 2021 is now available online, and RACC's Make Learn Build grant applications are due January 26 at 5 p.m. These grants support artists, creatives, organizations, and businesses. 

  • The Small Business Committee of the US House of Representatives had a pretty remarkable discussion earlier this week on "The Power, Peril, and Promise of the Creative Economy." We encourage you to watch the hearing on YouTube, which includes testimony from Nataki Garrett of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. This is a great example of engaging elected officials in conversation about the importance of our sector, and helps build momentum for future arts policy and investment decisions.

Please share this newsletter with other folks who may be interested in learning more about how the City supports culture, creativity and the arts in Portland.
Thank you!

Jeff Hawthorne
Arts Program Manager 
City of Portland, Office of Management and Finance


Top banner photo credits: NW Dance Project dancers Ingrid Ferdinand and Santiago Villarreal in rehearsal for the premiere of Ihsan Rustem’s “Linger” (Oct. 2021), photo by Blaine Truitt Cover; Delphon “DJ” Curtis Jr. in “Hedwig and the Angry Inch” playing through March 6 at Portland Center Stage at The Armory, photo by Owen Carey; La’Tevin Alexander performing in "Hercules Didn't Wade in the Water" by Michael A. Jones as part of the Vanport Mosaic Festival in 2017; the Interstate Firehouse Cultural Center. 
Do you have a great photograph that is representative of our local arts community? We are looking for images to include in future issues of this newsletter and elsewhere in the City's communication channels. Email 
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