RACC’s New Office

ON OCTOBER 1, RACC moved into its new administrative offices at 411 NW Park Avenue in Portland. RACC’s new home includes a street level storefront plus second story offices in the General Automotive Building, a LEED Gold certified building. RACC secured an affordable seven-year lease to accommodate the growth of its programs in recent years and into the future. Our new neighborhood (actually just a few blocks away from our old space) is near the Portland Streetcar, MAX Yellow and Green lines, Union Station, and the Portland Bus Mall. Other arts organizations in the neighborhood include the Museum of Contemporary Craft, Portland Center Stage, Blue Sky Gallery, countless commercial galleries—as well as the future home of PNCA in the 511 Federal Building.

RACC welcomed more than 300 friends and family into the new space with a First Thursday open-house event on December 1.


Building Community

THE PORTLAND BUILDING, the city’s HQ for many municipal services, isn’t just a place to pay your water bill or gawk at the Portlandia statue. The lobby inside hosts site-specific, interactive, and experimental art installations sponsored by RACC. The exhibitions rotate monthly and present work by local artists that expand the definition of art and stimulate dialogue about art in public places. Heidi Keith’s Saving Daylight, for example, presented viewers with a wall of a 182 meticulously rendered paintings that captured the eastern Portland sky each morning from winter solstice to summer solstice. Also in 2011, Adam Moser’s End Credits used the familiar movie-credit format to project Portland Building employees’ names and titles, introducing some of the lesser-known tasks that keep the city going. Past exhibits are archived at racc.org/installationspace.


Yes We Can

RACC CONTINUES TO partner with and invest in the Creative Advocacy Network, an independent nonprofit organization working to establish a dedicated public fund for the arts. A CAN ballot measure planned for November 2012 would generate new funding to provide increased access to arts and culture for every resident, including free, in-classroom arts and music experiences available to every school-age child in the City of Portland. The dedicated funding would also strengthen local arts and cultural institutions. According to CAN, “the arts are not a luxury, but a necessity.” The campaign has been using Twitter, Facebook, and its website, theartscan.org, to publicize its mission and raise funds to promote the ballot measure.


Arts for All

DURING 2010, with the Portland area’s unemployment rate in double digits, 12 local classical music organizations devised a program to offer $5 tickets to Oregon Trail cardholders (those enrolled in the state’s food-stamp program). In a six-month pilot period after its January 2011 launch, the program, Music for All, sold more than 1,400 tickets, expanding audiences and outreach opportunities for the participating performance groups and bringing arts experiences to many for whom they may have been out of reach or simply off the radar. The Oregonian called the program “one of the quiet success stories in Portland’s arts community.”

With funding from RACC and Work for Art, as well as the City of Portland, Music for All became Arts for All in the fall of 2011. The original coalition has signed up 30 additional groups, stretching from dance (BodyVox, Polaris Dance Theatre) and stage (Hand2Mouth, Oregon Children’s Theatre, Artists Repertory) to other organizations such as the Northwest Film Center, Wisdom’s NW Indian Storytelling Festival, and Japanese drumming troupe Portland Taiko. That meant that this past holiday season, a family of four could go see OBT’s The Nutcracker or Portland Center Stage’s A Christmas Story for just $20.

One in five households in the state have an Oregon Trail card, part of the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or SNAP. That rate is higher than the national average, as is the state’s unemployment rate, which was over 9 percent for each month in 2011. “Participating in the arts shouldn’t be out of reach for Portlanders struggling through these hard times—whether living on a fixed income, struggling through underemployment or the loss of a steady job,” said Mayor Sam Adams of the program. “My appreciation goes out to the Portland arts organizations that have stepped up to make this program happen.” In addition to supporting the participating groups, RACC also helps fund promotional materials, including the Arts for All website at artsforallpdx.org.

Although you must present an Oregon Trail Card to qualify, SNAP credit can’t be used to buy the $5 tickets—the cards are just for food, to use at the grocery store or the farmers market. But one participant who’d been out of work for three years called the program “food for the soul.”