Portland-area arts council, partners working to rescue artists
Support for artists and arts organizations is in the works, as the Regional Arts & Culture Council and partners are establishing a pool of funds to help them.
Madison Cario, RACC executive director, said it's RACC's duty to come to the aid of individuals and groups during an "unprecedented" health and economic crisis because of COVI19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus.
"This is what I always imagined doing, but not under these circumstances," Cario said. "We have the data and infrastructure to support this movement score."
RACC sent out the Oregon Arts Organization & Individuals COVID-19 Impact Survey to artists and groups on its email list in Oregon about projected revenue losses, and the results, so far, have been eye-popping.
As of Sunday, March 22, 266 organizations from 25 counties have reported, and collectively they are reporting projected losses of $40.6 million through the end of May. And, that doesn't include, yet, numbers from the Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
A total of 1,281 individuals from 25 counties reported; they're projecting $10.1 million in losses through May.
Cario expects to provide updated numbers soon.
RACC has been distributing its normal, general operating support funds to individuals and groups — from a fund estimated to be $5 million range annually, depending on Arts Tax income — while working with several groups on a pooled fund for distribution at a later date. "We're quickly flipping whatever we can," Cario said.
Potential pool fund partners are Oregon Community Foundation, Miller Foundation, Tualatin Valley Creates, Oregon Arts Commission, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust and The Collins Foundation, Cario said.
"The goal is to have it be where whether you have a funder you know and go to, there's no wrong door," Cario said.
The pool amount — likely to be in the several millions — and timeline for dispersal of money hasn't been determined yet. "This week we're looking at how to set up applications," Cario said, "and because I t's statewide, it's important for OCF to know where funds are already pooled."
Cario said that the pooled funds likely would go mostly to organizations, but the partners also would look at how the crisis impacts individual artists, as well as administrators, technicians, installers, preparers, etc. "And, not be overlooked are employees of arts organizations, as we could be looking at a high unemployment rate in the near future," Cario said.
In addition, a survey by the Americans for the Arts has been sent to artists and groups to query them on need for federal dollars.
RACC, under Cario's guidance, has been working to streamline programs while doing advocacy work and funding, promoting public art and fostering education. RACC is funded by city of Portland (including the Arts Tax) and private donors, as well as Metro and Multnomah, Clackamas and Washington counties.
"(The crisis) has given us an opportunity to leapfrog right into advocating for and providing resources for our community," Cario said. "We need all leaders at all levels to take action; this is a marathon, and we have to be strategic. What is the long game? What do we need to prepare for and fund-raise for? How can we pivot and do things differently."
At the same time, "right now we have to make sure our community is cared for with housing, food, connection, and do whatever we can to be flexible with funding," Cario said, adding that the city, and Commissioner Chloe Eudaly, have been "amazing" in their support of RACC.
Cario said that it's important to support the arts in a time of crisis to keep citizens connected and for hope and inspiration. Cario said there is ample support out there through various means and "we can be that technical support for our artists."
RACC will also be launching a separate fundraising campaign on its website to support the local arts economy, which will serve to respond more quickly to artists in need while the pool fund is being established.
For more: www.racc.org.
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