RACC announces new structure for project grants

RACC has long offered project grant support to individual artists and organizations in the region, helping to support the creation and presentation of artmaking of all kinds. More than 140 artistic projects were funded last year, ranging from solo dance performances to an audio documentary series exploring gentrification to afterschool Taiko ensemble classes for youth.

Traditionally, RACC’s project grant application has been offered once a year, in the summer, to support the many performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, broadcasts, festivals, tours, workshops, events, installations, and happenings that occur in the following calendar year. Now it is time for something new.

RACC is responding to community needs

Project grants are the most popular funding program at RACC by volume, and the interest and need for public support has increased significantly over the years. In 2008, RACC received 192 applications; two years later that number had increased to 267, and by 2014 RACC received a record 358 applications. This growth in the creative community needs to be met by a granting structure and timeline that better serves the artmakers, rather than the grantmakers.

In the most significant project grant change in years, RACC is moving from one deadline annually to three deadlines a year. The arts community can plan for the next project grant deadline coming up on Wednesday, August 2, 2017 by 5:00 p.m.  Subsequent project grant deadlines will be in February, June and October of 2018. RACC’s professional development grants will also move to the same multiple deadlines every year.

With the more frequent grant deadlines, artists and organizations can apply when they are ready to present their projects for consideration rather than when RACC’s application is available.

Grantmaking for Equity

Over the last two years, RACC staff have collected community feedback through online surveys and focus groups, and have researched and incorporated national best practices in grantmaking. Project grant enhancements are building on the lessons learned in administering RACC’s Arts Equity Grant program that was launched last year, and are a direct response to community need.

As always, RACC project grants are available to individual artists and non-profit organizations in Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas counties. The project grant categories and the application itself are slightly different than in previous years, so RACC encourages applicants to explore the categories and other grant requirements well in advance. The new categories for project grants will be:

  • Arts Equity & Access. Arts Equity Grants, which were first awarded in 2016, are now being folded into project grants and made available to individual artists as well as organizations. This change also allows RACC to expand Arts Equity Grant funding to all three counties when it had previously only been available to City of Portland and Multnomah County applicants. Arts Equity & Access projects will support arts programs and services that involve direct community participation from communities that are underserved, students, and other events and festivals that are community based.
  • Arts Services. Arts Services is a new category to artists and organizations that are providing technical assistance and other services to the field. RACC has seen an increasing number of these proposals over the last few years, and this new category makes funding available to projects that support the arts community with activities such as workshops and conferences.
  • Artistic Focus. The Artistic Focus category remains unchanged with the vision, innovation, creativity and high artistic quality of the artist or arts organization at the heart of the proposal.

As returning grant applicants read through the project grant guidelines and application, they may notice some additional changes. For example, organizations will no longer be required to meet a one-to-one match in their proposed budgets, and the review criteria has been revised.

Two-step process

RACC is also implementing a new two-step application process that will include a shorter Inquiry Application, followed by a Full Application for those proposals that are ready to be considered by a grant review panel. The Inquiry Application is brief, including several short questions plus a narrative opportunity to describe the proposed project, but will allow a staff review panel to determine that the details and timing of the proposed project are far enough along to be competitive.

“This new process will help save applicants from doing all the work of a full application at once,” says grants officer Helen Daltoso. The Inquiry Application will be reviewed by staff, and projects most likely to be competitive will be invited to submit a Full Application. Proposals that are not selected to submit a Full Application will have an opportunity to prepare further and re-apply in the next project grant deadline.

“If a project isn’t quite ready to move forward and needs more time to work out some of the details, there will always be another opportunity to re-submit another application in a few months,” said Daltoso. “Applicants will no longer have to wait a full year for the next opportunity to apply.”

Summary of Key Changes

Taken together, these changes will give artists and arts organizations more flexibility, and more opportunities for success at the Full Application stage. With three annual deadlines, applicants can come forward with proposals when they, and the projects they are developing, are truly ready for consideration.

  • Move from one annual deadline in August to three deadlines February, June and October beginning in 2018.
  • Applicants will be establishing their own project timeline, rather than having to adhere to the calendar year.
  • Revising grant categories to include Artistic Focus, Arts Equity & Access, and Arts Service projects.
  • Two-step application process:
    • Step one: Inquiry Application – a short application outlining project details
    • Step two: Full Application – only projects most likely to be competitive will be invited to submit a full application

The RACC staff and board are excited to launch this evolution of project support and how we serve the many dancers, filmmakers, composers, actors, artists, writers, performers, producers and creatives throughout the tri-county region.

How to Apply

The first step in the application process is to read the Project Grant Guidelines. This document outlines all the details of the program and can help applicants determine whether their project is eligible for a grant.

RACC is moving to a new online grant application system, so first time and returning applicants alike will need to create a new account in the new system at racc.org/apply.

Applicants who submit an Inquiry Application will receive a response from RACC within 5 weeks. Full Application proposals will be grouped by discipline and reviewed by a panel of community volunteers who have interest and experience in arts and culture programming.

The next four project grant deadlines are:

  • Wednesday, August 2, 2017 by 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, February 7, 2018 by 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, June 6, 2018 by 5:00 p.m.
  • Wednesday, October 3, 2018 by 5:00 p.m.

GRANT ORIENTATIONS

For more detailed information on Project Grant applications you may attend the following free orientation sessions. It is important that you register for these orientations by either going to https://racc.org/rsvp or emailing Jack MacNichol at  jmacnichol@racc.org.

  • Thursday, July 13, 2017 | 6:00-7:30pm | Beaverton Library Auditorium 12375 SW 5th St, Beaverton
  • Friday, July 14, 2017 | Noon-2:00pm | RACC Office – 411 NW Park Ave #101, Portland
  • Monday, July 17, 2017 | 6:00-7:30pm | Kenton Library Meeting Room – 8226 N Denver Ave, Portland
  • Wednesday, July 19, 2017 | 6:00-7:30pm | Midland Library Meeting Room – 805 SE 122nd Ave, Portland
  • Thursday, July 20, 2017 | 3:00-5:00pm | RACC Office – 411 NW Park Ave #101, Portland
  • Wednesday, July 26, 2017 | 6:00-7:30pm | Hollywood Library Meeting Room – 4040 NE Tillamook St, Portland
  • Thursday, July 27, 2017 | 9:00-11:00am | RACC Office – 411 NW Park Ave #101, Portland

Questions?

You can learn more about Project Grants and read the new Grant Guidelines on our Project Grant page. Please contact Jack MacNichol with questions about RACC grants, or with translation and technical assistance requests, at 503-823-2928 or jmacnichol@racc.org.