Tools for Organizations

This online toolkit includes a collection of useful information and helpful resources for arts organizations that are working through a very challenging economy. If you have suggestions for additional resources that RACC can share, please contact

RACC Resources

Strategic Response to the Economic Crisis. Nationally acclaimed arts consultant George Thorn has worked with over ninety local arts organizations including dozens through RACC’s Cultural Leadership Program, and discusses here six things every arts organization should do in order to address the current economic situation head-on.

What does the Economic Stimulus mean for the arts in Portland? The NEA has released guidelines and other information about how it will invest its $50 million of stimulus funds. Also, Americans for the Arts has developed a summary of other items of interest in the stimulus package. RACC is working with the City of Portland and other government partners to ensure that our community takes full advantage of these programs.

Conversations with Local Arts Leaders. RACC has been having a series of conversations with arts leaders to learn some of your best practices in responding to this changing economy, and to help identify what RACC’s role can and should be in these difficult times. Here is a summary of some of the things we have heard.

RACC Response. This article, New Strategies Emerge from New Economic Realities, describes how RACC plans to make adjustments to its own programs and services as a response to the economic crisis.

Value. Investment. Action. RACC and NW/BCA have assembled a series of talking points that arts leaders can draw from to help communicate the measurable value that arts and culture provide for our communities; the sustained and intentional investment that is required to foster a vibrant arts community; and actions that every person can take to support the arts.

Voter Attitudes Toward Arts and Culture in the Portland region. In March 2008, as part of the Regional Creative Capacity Project, Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin & Associates conducted a new regional survey to assess the public’s level of engagement in the arts, and the extent to which voters might support proposals that provide stable, ongoing funding for arts and cultural activities. This is a summary of their findings.

Economic Impact Report. Not only do arts and culture organizations enrich our lives and feed our souls – they also produce direct and measurable economic benefits. For those in our community who just don’t get the intrinsic arguments, this document, published in 2007, counts the jobs that are created by the region’s arts organizations, and measures the impact of arts-related spending by audiences.

Economic Impact Calculator. Measure your own organization’s economic impact with this handy tool.

Other resources in the arts community

Local Foundations Survey. Grantmakers of Oregon and Southwest Washington has released important new research on how the economic downturn is impacting foundation funding levels and patterns in 2009. The survey finds that half will be granting less money in 2009 compared to 2008. Fifty-two percent of funders will be pulling back funding levels this year, giving less than in ’08. Under half (39%) will be maintaining the same level of funding as in ’08. A small handful (9%) will be giving more this year compared to last year.

Kennedy Center Forms “Arts in Crisis” to Help Struggling Arts Non-Profits. The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., has announced a new initiative designed to help nonprofit arts organizations that are struggling to stay afloat during the current recession. Arts administrators can have confidential discussions with the center's executive staff about issues such as shrinking income sources, fundraising, budgeting, marketing, the use of technology, and other areas pertinent to maintaining a vital performing arts organization in a troubled economy. Any nonprofit arts group may sign up to receive assistance, which will be provided via e-mail, phone, Web chats, and/or site visits.

Resources for Staying Strong. NAO has developed some helpful online resources for local nonprofit organizations.

Survive an Economic Downturn. Meyer Memorial Trust has provided this online resource for non-profits to share their challenges and solutions. There are listings of resources, recovery funding, and advice for new strategies during this challenging time.

Fundraising Trends Survey and Report. The Nonprofit Association or Oregon collaborated with Retriever Development Counsel to assess the impact of the current economic crisis on nonprofits in our region. Many arts organizations participated in this January, 2009 survey.

Business Volunteers for the Arts (BVA). BCA can recruit, train and place experienced business professionals on pro bono consulting projects for nonprofit arts organizations in the region. These volunteers contribute professional skills and resources on a project-by-project basis.

Arts Funding Response and Readiness Kit. Americans for the Arts has created an online toolkit to help arts organizations respond effectively in times of crisis. Includes up-to date information, key messaging, communications and advocacy strategies, and the research you need to make the case for keeping the arts in your community.

Nonprofit Economic Vitality Center. The National Council of Nonprofits is developing an ever-evolving resource to help nonprofits better understand the economic situation and have ready access to strategies to help you navigate the economy so nonprofits can serve their communities more efficiently.

Navigating Troubled Waters. We all agree that surviving the next two years will require significant focus on planning, increased structural flexibility and capacity to adapt quickly, willingness to take risks and innovate, a new openness to collaborating, and a heightened responsiveness to community need. In this Winter 2008 publication, consultants from WolfBrown offer independent perspectives to navigating troubled seas.

Managing in Tough Times, a Collection of Resources for Nonprofits and Funders Navigating Turbulence. Courtesy of The Bridgespan Group.

Guide to Navigating the Financial Crisis. This broad overview of the economic situation – and how every nonprofit organization should respond – is provided by the Nonprofit Finance Fund.

Useful Speeches, Articles, Op-Eds and Video Conversations

Conversation: Robert Lynch, President, President of Americans for the Arts, The Newshour, PBS, March 27, 2009 (video conversation: 10:55 min)

The Arts Need Better Arguments, The Wall Street Journal, February 18, 2009

Saving Federal Arts Funds: Selling Culture as an Economic Force, The New York Times, February 15, 2009.

A curtain call for the creative industry, The Oregonian (Guest Opinion by Chris Coleman and Commissioner Jeff Cogen), February 11, 2009

Arts Leaders Urge Role for Culture in Economic Recovery, New York Times, January 25, 2009.

7 Ways to Support Artists The Toronto Star, January 19, 2009.

The Ultimate Gift in a Time of Crisis, an op-ed by Kira Higgs, printed in The Oregonian, November 17, 2008.

Place + Happiness = Portland Prosperity, an op-ed by Richard Florida, printed in The Oregonian, April 27, 2008.

Art Changes Everything, an economic impact argument from Eloise Damrosch and Virginia Willard, 2007.

The Arts Mean Business, an economic impact argument from Robert Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts, 2007.

Other useful links

Americans for the Arts
Creative Advocacy Network
Business for Culture & The Arts
Oregon Arts Commission
Oregon Cultural Trust
Regional Creative Capacity Project
The Right Brain Initiative
Work for Art


Staff to Contact

Jeff Hawthorne
Director of Community Engagement