Regional Arts & Culture Council

The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) is an organization that administers arts grants in Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas Counties that also do advocacy in the Portland metropolitan area in Oregon, United States.[1] It evolved from the city’s Metropolitan Arts Commission agency in the 1990s.[2] In 1995, the Metropolitan Arts Commission became the RACC as an independent non-profit organization.[3]

Regional Arts & Culture Council
Regional Arts & Culture Council logo.png
Regional Arts and Culture Council, Portland, Oregon (2013).jpg
Interior of the organization's office, 2013
PredecessorMetropolitan Arts Commission
Portland metropolitan area


The mission of the organization is to integrate arts and culture in all aspects of community life through vision, leadership and service. RACC is funded by the City of Portland, Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington counties, Metro, the Oregon Arts Commission, and several private donors. It provides programs and offers grants to artists and arts organizations throughout the region. RACC also manages the 1.33-percent-for-art program for Multnomah County, and the 2%-for-art program for the City of Portland. The City of Portland paid $228,000 for the Portlandia, statue in 1985 which was installed atop the Portland Building.[4]

RACC funds a variety of not-for-profit, publicly accessible arts activities in the region.[5][6] From the five "majors" (Oregon Ballet Theatre, Oregon Symphony, Portland Art Museum, Portland Center Stage, and Portland Opera) to smaller and emerging groups like Oregon Children's Theatre, Literary Arts, Portland Institute for Contemporary Art (PICA), PlayWrite, and Write Around Portland, RACC funding provides approximately 1 to 5% of most local arts organizations' total budgets. RACC also funds a number of individual artists each year.[7]

RACC provides resources for artists through its website and several newsletters (both printed and electronic). RACC provides several technical assistance programs, including workshops for artists, and convenes public forums and other meetings to discuss important arts and culture issues in the community. In 2004, RACC launched a workplace giving program for arts and culture called Work for Art to raise additional funds for local arts organizations.[8] The agency launched a public-private initiative as a gap filler for schools lacking art teachers called The Right Brain Initiative at an expense to the district of $15 per child.[9]

The organization receives funding from the city budget, but unlike a city bureau, it is governed by its own private governing board. In 2018, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler and then commissioner Nick Fish asked the city auditor's office to investigate if RACC was meeting its contractual obligations with the city. The city's senior management auditor Jenny Scott reported "The city has no clear goals for arts and culture." Scott described the situation as "there’s little oversight at the city of how RACC spends its money."[10]


The executive director of RACC is A. Madison Cario.[11] Former executive directors have included Eloise Damrosch, Bill Bulick, Mike Pippi, and David Hudson. RACC is managed by a Board of Directors of approximately 25 persons, with a staff of approximately 40.[12]

In 2020, RACC laid off 15 staff to better address the goal and streamline the organization. The administration of Right Brain Initiative was moved to Young Audiences of Oregon and Southwest Washington during this change.[13]


  1. ^ Baer, April. "Audit: Portland Regional Arts And Culture Council Needs Oversight". Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  2. ^ Perry, Douglas (2020-01-29). "Regional Arts & Culture Council lays off 15, will add new staff as it reimagines its role". oregonlive. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  3. ^ "Public Art Program Overview". Regional Arts and Culture Council. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  4. ^ LOCANTHI, JOHN (September 14, 2014). "So Sue Us". Willamette Week. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  5. ^ RACC. "Our Programs". Regional Arts & Culture Council. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  6. ^ RACC. "About RACC". Regional Arts & Culture Council. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  7. ^ Stabler, David (December 20, 2012). "Regional Arts & Culture Council gives record $732,440 to 66 groups and 94 artists". The Oregonian. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  8. ^ "Work for Art launches 6th annual campaign". Hillsboro Argus. September 2, 2011. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  9. ^ Special to The Oregonian (2012-04-14). "The Right Brain Initiative links artists with classrooms, filling a budget void in Gresham's schools". oregonlive. Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  10. ^ Baer, April (May 22, 2018). "Audit: Portland Regional Arts And Culture Council Needs Oversight". Retrieved 2020-04-30.
  11. ^ Baer, April. "Portland's Arts Agency Hires Madison Cario To Top Job". Retrieved 2019-04-03.
  12. ^ RACC. "RACC Staff & Board". Regional Arts & Culture Council. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  13. ^ Orr, Donald (January 31, 2020). "Portland's Regional Arts And Culture Council Announces Job Cuts As Part Of Restructuring". Retrieved 2020-04-30.

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