Barry Johnson

Barry Johnson has written about and edited arts and culture stories of various sorts since 1978, when he started writing about dance for the Seattle Sun. He edited the arts section of Willamette Week and wrote a general culture column in the early 1980s and started at The Oregonian as arts editor in 1983, moving between editing and writing (visual arts, movies, theater, dance) until leaving in 2009. Since then, he’s been thinking about new ideas to help make arts and culture journalism ever more useful and engaged. Oregon Arts Watch is one of those ideas.

 

Starting Over: It’s not about the elk, it’s all about the elk

Dear New York Review of Books, In Portland we love our Elk.

Toward the end of an engrossing New York Review of Books article, I suddenly was caught up short by a familiar image. Back in August, Brian Libby, the indefatigable author of PDX Architecture, decided to check in on the current state of Roland Hinton Perry’s Elk, which the City had  removed from its natural habitat in the middle of Southwest Main Street near the Justice Center after its plinth was damaged by fire. Libby’s photograph of the newly sheltered Elk, reduced to a column’s width square, illustrated the NY Review of Books article along with a 2-column shot of the Pergamon Altar in Berlin from the 2nd century BCE, and a 3-column reproduction of Willem Van Hacht’s splendid Apelles Painting Campaspe, which dates back to 1630.

This isn’t a story about the Elk, per se. Libby’s already told that one perfectly well. And a former colleague of mine at The Oregonian, Doug Perry, added some historical details in his story about Brian’s story. They’ve got you covered.

Roland Hinton Perry’s Elk in seclusion/Photo by Brian Libby

It’s not even a story about a correction to Susan Tallman’s NYRB article, a review of two new books about the history of art history, that I would like to suggest. It’s a small correction: Tallman says that Elk was targeted by protesters, perhaps because “its materials and manner of execution, as well as its urban position, testify to its origins in the white male power-base of turn-of-the-twentieth-century America.” The Elk, as Libby points out, was not targeted for destruction: The fires were part of a celebration of the elk and, maybe, the natural world by the protesters. The “white male power-base” was represented by the Justice Center, not this spindly legged yet large member of the deer family. In fact, protesters replaced the original with an amusingly elk-ish statue of their own. Vivo el uapití! (Tallman does give herself an out: “It may just have been in the wrong place … at the wrong time.” But the “targeted” suggestion is wrong per all accounts I’ve seen.)

“Perhaps the protesters, like Winckelmann, recognized a style and, through it, an entire worldview.” These are Tallman’s last words on the Elk. To which I would say, “definitely not.” But the words do fit into what I took away from Tallman’s article, though it isn’t quite what I think she had in mind. Her reasonable larger point is that “Art history is, inevitably, a story imposed on a selected group of artifacts by people who, consciously or unconsciously, have predilections and agenda.” I don’t disagree.

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On revolt in the streets, circa 1971

The Mayday anti-war protests led to the largest mass arrest of demonstrators in American history, which author Lawrence Roberts will talk about via Powell's Books

Portland protests.

The city has been doing it a long time now—it seems like forever—and given the new justifications for protest that arrive almost every day, I don’t expect the protests to stop any time soon. I expect them to grow. So, the city has had to do a lot of thinking about protests, demonstrations, marches, and the nature of its dissent, and that will go on, too, I suspect.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading around these topics, and one of the most useful books to me has been Mayday 1971 by longtime investigative editor Lawrence Roberts. I met Roberts in Seattle at the very beginning of my own journalism journey, but Roberts soon left Seattle and spent most of his career in pursuit of answers to difficult questions, running investigations teams at the Hartford Courant, the Washington Post, Huffington Post, and Pro Publica, among others, leading three teams to Pulitzer Prizes along the way.

Mayday 1971, his first book, is about the week of anti-Vietnam War protests in Washington, D.C., that led to the mass, illegal arrest of around 12,000 protesters by D.C. cops. Despite claims to the contrary at the time, they were operating under the authority and order of the Nixon administration, as it turned out. The book makes the connection clear. Maybe already you’re getting the idea that past protests can inform our own.

Think of Mayday 1971 as a case history of a specific protest, maybe, or a military history of a specific battle. Roberts discusses the thinking of both the protesters and the government leading up to the engagement, considers the strategies employed by each side, follows the events as they unfolded, and then tracks the legal and political threads afterwards. Are the seeds of Nixon’s eventual destruction apparent in his response to the May Day protest, the lies that were told and the dirty tricks that were played? These weren’t tea leaves; they were practice.

The joys Mayday 1971 provides are considerable, especially if you know something about the time. Roberts sketches characters as diverse as Richard Nixon and Abbie Hoffman, telling delicious stories about the bully boys in the Nixon administration and the lives of the protest organizers.  He maintains a clear narrative thread through various digressions into their biographies, legal matters, drug consumption, paranoia and constant deceit. The stories are new, beautifully told, and get to the heart of the quixotic attempt by protesters to shut down the government for a day. They also reveal the absolute indifference to laws and the Constitution by the government, and the grotesque tough-guy talk they used to express it.

We learn, for example, that Nixon never for a moment thought about the position of the demonstrators, why they opposed the war and his part in it. He only thought of the demonstrators as enemies, maybe like the Viet Cong. As such, they didn’t deserve the truth, the protection of the law, or humane treatment once they were arrested. This idea—that those who dissent are automatically enemies—seems to be endemic to governments of all sorts. And it elicits a visceral, violent response to protests by the government, along with a whirlwind of lies and coverups. So yes, Roberts’ deeply researched account has a lot of parallels to our own tragic times.

Powell’s Books is hosting Roberts for a Zoom conversation about his new book at 5 pm today, Thursday, Sept. 24. I’ll be on hand, too, and we will be talking about some of these matters, I have no doubt. Please join us with your own questions and considerations?

Interview: Daniel Mathews on trees, fire, and public policy

As forest fires consume hundreds of thousands of acres in Oregon and Washington, Daniel Mathews' "Trees in Trouble" moves to the front burner

The release of Daniel Mathews’ Trees in Trouble earlier this year was swallowed up by events that seemed of more immediate urgency than a book about a specific effect of climate change. The fate of pine forests in the West deferred to the reading public’s growing understanding of how devastating the covid-19 pandemic was going to be and how threatening President Trump was to American democracy itself. But maybe we don’t have to connect too many dots to see how entangled climate change, pandemics, and the violation of democratic principles really are. But I digress.

I have known Mathews since the 1980s when we met socially and then professionally. I edited some of his nature essays in The Oregonian’s Northwest magazine, and his Cascade-Olympic Natural History: A Trailside Reference has a prominent spot on my shelf of reference books. Since then we’ve had dinner many times and even hiked together a few times. In my mind, that disqualified me from reviewing Trees in Trouble, his exploration of the condition and prospects of the Western pine forests, Ponderosa and Jeffrey, Sugar and Bristlecone, Lodgepole and Two-needle Piñon, often through the eyes of long-time researchers in field, tramping about their forests.

An interview seemed appropriate, though: We could talk about the book and the topics surrounding it without some of the formality of the typical interviewer/interviewee relationship. And then as we neared the end of the process, the massive fires that were burning in California as he wrote Trees in Trouble, came to Oregon. 

As I type, the skies above Portland are relatively clear, a little murky with haze, but all around the state fires have escaped the forest and are running through populated areas. The problem that Trees in Trouble considers isn’t a sideshow in Oregon today—it’s the main event. The first question is actually the last one I asked Mathews, just this morning, after I started to understand the scope of the fires around Medford, the Santiam, the McKenzie, into the Willamette Valley and to the edges of Portland proper.

ArtsWatch: The fires threatening Oregon towns and cities and filling Oregon skies with smoke today come from Oregon’s forests. Trees in Trouble was written during the big California fires two years ago, which illustrated your discussion of the failure of fire suppression policies in Western forests. What is your response to the fire footage we’re seeing today?

Daniel Mathews: I’m heartbroken looking at the maps and seeing so many towns and forests I visited just in reporting for this book. This week’s fires are shocking and truly historic: it’s likely that more acres burned in the West than in any 48-hour period in written history, including the Big Blow-up of 1910. I fear that by the weekend we’ll see by far the most homes burned in Oregon, as well.

The blow-ups in Oregon, Washington, and California all result from a vast unusual weather pattern involving regional-scale strong East winds across the mountains lasting for days and falling at a hot, extremely dry time of year. Our Oregon East winds aren’t uncommon; what’s unusual is such a strong wind so early in the fall, together with the simultaneity of it from Washington to southern CA. With so many fires to fight, firefighting resources are stretched too thin for there to be much hope of quick containment. Climate change is responsible for about two degrees of how warm and dry the region got.

That said, here in western Oregon it’s possible that these fires are the long-term normal. Jerry Franklin and his colleagues have long said that western Oregon’s fire regime consists of large severe fires that come along very infrequently—hundreds of years apart—at times of large-scale East wind patterns in the early fall. In a further contrast to the pine forests of California and eastern Oregon, these fires can’t be blamed on the forests being too dense after decades of fire suppression. Thanks to the rain, our forests always have plenty of fuel to carry fire, but most of the time they’re too damp to do so.

Again thanks to the rain, forests here have an excellent chance of regrowing into something like what they were before. Looking at the heart of the 2017 Eagle Creek burn last month, I saw that even where the fire killed 90% of the mature trees, it spared a scattering of them to reseed the landscape.

One persistent theme of the book has to do with the tension between public policy and scientific research. How much should public policy be determined by the science of forest preservation and adaptation? How much has it been determined by that science up until now? Has that changed much during the past few decades?

I guess there are a lot of disconnects between science and policy in this country, but forest fire policy is one of the most stubborn. Recognition that our dry forests need more fire has been growing for 40 years or more among scientists, and it even became Forest Service policy a decade or two ago. But only on paper. Increasing the use of prescribed fire in the West is persistently, painfully slow, and managed wildfire—watching natural fires burn and being ready to move in and suppress them only if necessary—has been even slower, even though it’s officially approved. Chalk it up mainly to risk aversion and strangled budgets. And politicians.

The cycle that Trees in Trouble describes involves pine forests (mostly east of the coast rain forests), fire, beetles (and other pine predators), and climate variability. How do you think about those elements? What metaphors do you use in your own mind?

Climate change is kind of a warping or tilting of the entire field on which all of those beings live, eat each other, and die. Of course, climate has always been changing, but the last 5,000 years were more stable than the long-term average, and now the present century is changing WAY more rapidly. TILT!!!!

Whitebark pine and Clark’s Nutcracker, by Matt Strieby/Courtesy Counterpoint Press

How does a great pine forest feel to you as you walk through it? What is the experience like? (I’m thinking of Longfellow: “This is the forest primeval, the murmuring pines and the hemlocks…”)

Breezes bring a balmy ambience to o’erwhelm my nose, whilst eyes embrace majestic amber boles … 

Nice! Of the pine forests you encountered, which ones felt most “primeval” to you, least disturbed? Or do they all bear the scars of human interventions at this point? 

Well, in these forests, it’s more a lack of scars that reflects the kind of human intervention we don’t like. (That would be relentless fire suppression.) Fire scars here and there, and charred bark crevices, reflect a healthy fire regime. And we don’t mind if some of those chars and scars resulted from human intervention.

We have to look at east-side pine forests with east-side eyes, not our old west-side assumptions where we hope to see as many big old trunks as possible, and a maximum of verdure in the understory.

I loved a stand I camped in on the Naches Ranger District that had a herd of elk, an osprey, a big meadow, and well-spaced big old yellowbellies (Ponderosa pines).

How did the first humans in North America affect the pine forests they found here, which were emerging from the Ice Age as they arrived, presumably. Are there records of burning regimes that affected pine forests by those earliest humans here?

Palynologists can put together a charcoal record of the bigger ups and downs in the quantity of fire in a given drainage basin, over millennia—the hottest millennium had the most fire—and archaeologists can give us bits and pieces of a record of when people were around. But I think the two records are a long way from being complete enough and granular enough to correlate them. There are some good studies of the DE-population of Indigenous people, 240 or 400 years ago, affecting fire regimes. But not the initial arrival of people more than 10,000 years ago. From the Cascade Crest east through the Rockies, there’s plenty of dry lightning to maintain a frequent-fire regime anyway, regardless of any human ignitions. Not a ton of lightning in California and western Oregon, so human ignitions made a bigger difference here.

I love the illustrations of the different pine species. Me too! Thanks to Matt Strieby of Battleground, Washington.

How many are there in total in the West? How about Oregon? 

Oregon has nine native species, possibly ten or eleven. The southwestern states bring in a lot more, for a total in the West of around two dozen.

Which are the most prevalent? Ponderosa

The most threatened? Whitebark

The most valuable commercially? Ponderosa (though Western white pine in the past, and Sugar pine on a per-tree basis).

This may sound crazy, but which ones are your favorite (and why)?

I just adore being among Ponderosa or Jeffrey pines, because of their color and their fragrance. But I’m staggered by Bristlecones pines. Lots of them reach two thousand years old, some of them more than five thousand. Nothing else in the world comes close (unless you mess with the definitions). And just looking at the shapes and textures and colors of them, I’m blown away.

A Redding, California, neighborhood a year after the Carr fire/Photo Daniel Mathews

You don’t talk much about logging and logging practices. How has logging affected pine forests?

It’s a huge effect. The shift toward dense, fire-prone forests including lots of firs in place of mostly pines resulted from a one-two punch from logging and a cessation of fire. In the early days of logging in eastern Oregon (and most Ponderosa pine country) the main tree they wanted was the big, mature Ponderosa pine. In contrast to west-side forests, the Ponderosa pine forests were sparse enough that they could just go in and cut and drag out the individual trees they wanted most. It’s called “high-grading.” A lot of what got left behind was young Grand firs and Douglas firs, which thrived in the absence of competition from the big pines—and in the absence of frequent low-severity fires, which would have killed a lot of them. Long before we got good at putting all the fires out, fires were largely taken out of the equation by grazing sheep, which chomped away the grasses needed to carry a ground fire. Removing the Indigenous population also contributed to the cessation of fires in some areas.

What percentage of them have been logged? Is there a link between our fire regimes and logging?

Some in the timber industry would like us to believe that traditional commercial logging would prevent forest fires including the high-severity kind that are detrimental. The record does not support this. Many of the worst burnt patches have been in young commercial plantations.  (I saw this yet again in satellite imagery of the Bear fire in California.) What can help is sophisticated thinning to restore forest heterogeneity while retaining big old pines. In some places that can produce some merchantable timber; in others, not.

What does a forest-healthy approach to dealing with fire look like in pine forests?

A lot more prescribed fire, and also natural wildfires being allowed to burn more acreage, at relatively cool and moist times of year and in locations well away from developed resources we want to protect, like homes.

How about beetles? What’s the link between beetle infestations and fire?

There may be a link, but it isn’t totally proven. Some studies find that Ponderosa pines respond to repeatedly getting singed by producing more or bigger resin ducts, and if broadly true that would help them defend themselves from beetles, since that’s the main function of their resin.

If we committed ourselves to healthy pine forests, whatever that looks like, what would the investment look like, in dollars and human energy? What would the payoff be?

Sometimes people look at a fire that did ten million dollars in damage and say, this would have been prevented by well-placed prescribed fires costing a hundred thousand. They’re not wrong. There’s something of a point there, but hindsight is cheap. To apply prescribed fire strategically across the entire forested West won’t be cheap. A total cost-benefit analysis… I don’t know. I’m sure someone has thrown one against the wall to see if it sticks, but you could never get everyone to agree that it’s the accurate one.

The payoff is forests that give us not only profound spiritual gratification, but also clean water, fish, wildlife, clean air, carbon sequestration, and more,  

Starting Over: The value of crisis

Societies change and the arts are at the center of how we understand both the societies and the change

Nearly every day during my particular version of shelter-in-place, I sift through articles and essays (not to mention tweets) from likely sources, hoping to find out what in the blazes is going on out there. Or in here. Surely, I think, somebody has figured this stuff out, and so I search. 

I’ve been productively edified and instructed, pleasantly amused and delighted, annoyingly frustrated and aggravated, and alternatingly filled with dread and anxiety. You have to love the cycle that starts with anxiety, leads to dread, and then ends up back at anxiety. We’re all Kierkegaardians now!

Last week I ran into science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson’s essay, “The Coronavirus Is Rewriting Our Imaginations” in the New Yorker’s excellent feed. Robinson opened his argument with a reference from the late culture critic Raymond Williams, who argued in “The Long Revolution” that each historical period has its own, distinct “structure of feeling.” Robinson neatly paraphrases Williams’ observation about cultural difference as “a distinct way of organizing basic human emotions into an overarching cultural system. Each had its own way of experiencing being alive.”

Robinson then goes on to argue that we are (or maybe it’s “we should be”) entering a new cultural system through the door of the pandemic. That’s good: We need to turn the page on our current system if we are going to mitigate the disaster of climate change in a meaningful way.

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Oregon arts news: Covid-19 updates

Literary Arts has an emergency fund for writers, BodyVox is drawing blood, Shakespeare festival goes digital, more!

All arts news these days is Covid-19 news, at least in part. But then I suppose that extends to every central sector of the society. Arts organizations in Oregon are trying to raise enough money to keep enough staff on board to keep planning for their eventual return. Oh, and enough money to stage or hang the art they’re involved with when audiences can finally gather safely.

As George Thorn says, “We can’t wait to be in a room together with artists.”

There are two themes for this edition of News and Notes, and all subsequent ones, I expect. The first is the happier one: creative initiatives that artists and arts groups are coming up with to keep their connections with us possible, even though we’re isolated from each other.

Give blood then go to BloodyVox/Photo by Blaine Covert

The second includes funds that have been established to help artists in need and pleas for immediate help from groups in trouble. Two Portland venues, The Old Church and the Alberta Rose Theatre, are in that latter category. You know them, you love them, and if you can, this is a great time to support them.

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Writers need to eat, too, not to mention pay the rent, and they are rarely tethered to corporate support systems. To help them out, Literary Arts has designated money from its Brian Booth Writers’ Fund to create the Booth Emergency Fund for Writers, designed to provide meaningful financial relief to Oregon’s writers, including cartoonists, spoken word poets, and playwrights. Grants of $1,000 each will go to 100 eligible writers, and if more money shows up, a second round of applications will open in June.

The deadline to apply for Round One is May 13. Literary Arts is prioritizing money for writers identifying as Black, Indigenous, and/or People of Color. 

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival has launched O!, a digital content platform the company has had in the works since Nataki Garrett became artistic director. With the theater closed, O! becomes a primary outlet until its stages are filled again, but the company intends to keep working on the site, even when we’re back in the theater again.

Right now, you can hear audio from a 1951 version of Twelfth Night, with founder Angus Bowmer himself as Sir Toby Belch. Or download an audiobook version of 2015’s Pericles, with recordings of King Lear (2013, directed by Bill Rauch), Romeo and Juliet (2012, dir. Laird Williamson), and Julius Caesar (2017, dir. Shana Cooper) soon to come. And there are documentaries and classes to sift through, too. For now, it’s all free. Click here to get started.

Profile Theatre’s eNewsletter this week brought two excellent pieces of news, and believe me, excellent news has been hard to come by lately. They are so excellent that I don’t know which to feature first. 

We’ll start with the money. The company’s Be a Light fundraiser brought in $100,193, exceeding the $75,000 Profile needed to keep operations going, move community engagement programming online, and prepare for a return to the stage when the pandemic has subsided enough for audiences to return. The key word: EXCEEDING. Cash contributions reached $82,861 by the April 24 deadline, and donations of previously purchased tickets totaled $17,332. (If you have tickets for performances of any sort, please consider donating them to the issuing organization, if at all possible.)

Profile artistic director Josh Hecht and Paula Vogel/Courtesy Profile Theatre

And now to the art! Profile’s featured writer this year, Paula Vogel, has been teaching playwriting for 30 years, using her“playwriting bake-off’ idea—a method for creating new work quickly with a recipe of “ingredients,” including characters, settings, props, and source material. Earlier this month she established a “Covid Bake-Off,” using the structure of Arthur Schnitzler’s La Ronde, with its 10 pairs of lovers, and characters from around the globe from Wuhan to Milan and beyond. 

Profile has enlisted playwrights Hilary Betis, Philip Dawkins, Hansol Jung, EM Lewis, Dan Kitrosser, Harrison Rivers, EM Lewis, Christopher Oscar Peña and Anna Ziegler to collaborate with Vogel in this special Bake-Off. Their creation will be recorded as an audio-play and released as a podcast. We’ll keep you apprised here at ArtsWatch.

The Alberta Rose Theatre is seeking support now that Covid-19 has wiped out its concerts and events. Portland doesn’t have nearly enough arts facilities as it is, so if you’re able and inclined, you can help keep this Alberta street institution going.

The theater’s online streaming fundraiser has already begun, but you can still hook-up to hear a long roster of Portland musicians perform. Tonight, for example, singer-songwriter Colin Hogan performs. You can buy a single ticket, a 10-concert flex package, or a full-access package. Well, they aren’t actually “tickets,” but the more you buy, the cheaper they are. The 20-concerts-for-$100 is still the best deal overall, even though a few have already taken place. You can get sorted out at the website.

Speaking of crucial performance venues, one of the city’s very best, The Old Church, is under pressure, too. “We are working around the clock to find funding to stay afloat for what is feeling like it will be an extended closure,” the organization announced. “Without funding we will be out of cash by mid-July.”

The nonprofit has been working on a campaign to ensure that some of the federal money that has gone to states will trickle down to the arts, including venues like The Old Church. They are hoping you will write the Oregon legislators from their district and advocate for arts funding and The Old Church: Rep.AkashaLawrenceSpence@oregonlegislature.gov and  Sen.GinnyBurdick@oregonlegislature.gov

The Old Church has also started a Better Together campaign, which features online benefit performances to support the work they do and the building they have renovated so well. 

If Portland reopens without The Old Church, we’ll always regret it.

One of the many things that BodyVox is known for (along with its great dance films, comic stylings, fine dancing, etc.) is its Halloween send-up BloodyVox. So, it makes sense (at least to me) that the dance company would host a community blood drive with the American Red Cross. The drive runs from 9 am to 2:30 pm on May 7 at the BodyVox Dance Center, 1201 NW 17th Ave., in  Portland.

Speaking of BloodyVox, it kicks off the company’s 2020-21 season. Full details are available on the website.

BodyVox’s penchant for film and video is evident in its fifth annual Contact Dance Film Festival, available to stream starting April 30. The four-day festival features three different programs, showcasing award-winning collaborations between filmmakers, dancers, and choreographers from around the world. Maybe watch some dance and then give some blood?

Starting Over: Masks and democracy

While Seoul opens its high-end art galleries, we're still wondering when the testing, tracing, isolation regime will begin

In Seoul, Korea, a metropolis of 10 million, “a steady stream of Mercedes sedans pulled up to the valet, disgorging their fashion-forward passengers,” in front of the Seoul outpost of a fashionable New York-based gallery, the New York Times reported yesterday. Seoul now has its share of high-end contemporary art galleries and collectors, and after months of lockdown, everyone was ready to see some art.

The art they were seeing was by Billy Childish, a long-time art world rebel and working-class leftist, not to mention garage band rock’n’roller.  His work is now fetching prices cresting beyond $25,000, which he himself considers a matter of luck—after 40 years, the curators and dealers who championed him had finally seized the reins at major institutions, he told the Times.

After experiencing the little tingle that comes when I see the prices politically progressive artists are commanding in the rarefied art marketplace, I marveled at another statistic in the story. Seoul, with more than double the population of Oregon, has recorded only two deaths due to Covid-19.

Billy Childish, birches with green shadows, 2016
© Billy Childish, courtesy of Carl Freedman Gallery, photo: Andy Keate

Two. Deaths.

South Korea jumped immediately into the appropriate pandemic response. The country locked down early, it embraced social distancing, it distributed N-95 quality masks to all of its people, it tested widely, and when people tested positive for Covid-19, it traced and isolated those who came into contact with them. The public took this regime seriously.

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A group of major Oregon foundations has pooled its money to create a new arts relief fund. So far, the Oregon Arts and Culture Recovery Program has $1.3 million to distribute to nonprofit arts and culture organizations throughout Oregon with grants for emergency operating support and recovery activities.

Organized and administered by the Oregon Community Foundation, the fund will give preference to arts nonprofits led by and serving communities disproportionately impacted by the social and economic consequences of the outbreak of Covid-19. The application process doesn’t look too onerous, either.

Carl Morris (American, 1911-1993), Audition, 1946; reworked 1951, oil on paper board, Gift of Frederic Rothchild, © 1946 Carl and Hilda Morris Foundation, 76.39/Portland Art Museum

The emergency funds are intended to meet “immediate operating needs and losses related to the cancellation of performances, gallery exhibitions, fundraising events and more,”  according to the RACC press release announcing the start of the program. The group of funders will also look for “proposals with strategies that allow art organizations and cultural institutions to innovate and adapt to the challenges of Covid-19. Organizations serving as a hub or facilitator for the arts and artists in their local, state and regional communities will also be prioritized for funding.”

Most of the money will be distributed in smaller grants, $5,000 and below, though larger grants (up to and even exceeding $25,000 in rare cases) will also be available. 

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