All Classical Radio James Depreist

RACC puts its top leader on leave

The arts and culture funding group, in the midst of a fierce battle over funding with the City of Portland, puts Executive Director Carol Tatch on paid leave pending investigation of unspecified issues.

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Carol Tatch, executive director of the Regional Arts and Culture Council.

The greater Portland area’s Regional Arts and Culture Council‘s board has placed Executive Director Carol Tatch on paid leave pending an outside investigation of unspecified concerns, The Oregonian/Oregon Live reported Tuesday.

“The nonprofit started discussions of looking into Executive Director Carol Tatch after staff ‘brought forward concerns,’ said Interim Board Chair Debby Garman in an email last week to fellow board members obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive,” writer Shane Dixon Cavanaugh reported.

Garman did not provide details of the allegations, Cavanaugh reported, but said the RACC board will engage a third party to conduct an independent investigation, and hopes “to begin this process as soon as possible.”

RACC, which has managed arts and cultural funding in Portland and the tri-county metropolitan area since the late 1990s, has been involved in an acrimonious dispute with the City of Portland, which in July of this year informed RACC that it intends to go its own way on arts policy and will cut off funding to RACC at the end of the current fiscal year in summer 2024. In the most recent fiscal year the city supplied about $7.4 million of RACC’s $10.6 million budget. Portland City Commissioner Dan Ryan, whose portfolio includes oversight of arts, culture, and parks, stated that the city had repeatedly asked RACC for financial statements and not received them. Tatch countered that RACC had consistently provided financial information.

On August 31 ArtsWatch published an opinion piece by Ryan explaining why the city wants to take over its own arts funding and policy. On the same day, ArtsWatch published an opinion piece by Tatch laying out RACC’s position on the impending divorce.

Kavanaugh reported that Garman sent the newspaper the following statement through an intermediary on Tuesday:

“This step is taken out of an abundance of caution to continue to demonstrate RACC’s integrity in transparently overseeing taxpayer dollars provided by the City of Portland, Metro, and Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington counties. Since this is an internal personnel matter, and the board respects Ms. Tatch’s privacy, we cannot share further information at this time.”

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Photo Joe Cantrell

Bob Hicks has been covering arts and culture in the Pacific Northwest since 1978, including 25 years at The Oregonian. Among his art books are Kazuyuki Ohtsu; James B. Thompson: Fragments in Time; and Beth Van Hoesen: Fauna and Flora. His work has appeared in American Theatre, Biblio, Professional Artist, Northwest Passage, Art Scatter, and elsewhere. He also writes the daily art-history series "Today I Am."

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