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The City of Portland, Oregon

Auditor Mary Hull Caballero

Promoting open and accountable government

City should set priorities for arts and culture, improve contract oversight

The City should ensure that the work of the Regional Arts and Culture Council is aligned with City priorities and improve oversight of its $8.3 million contract with the not-for-profit organization, according to an audit my office released on Tuesday.

The City has contracted with the Arts Council for more than 20 years. The Arts Council is a regional organization, and its responsibilities include strategic planning and policy development for arts and culture. The Arts Council administers grants and arts education programs and is the steward of the City’s public art collection.

In 2017, the City provided the Arts Council with $8.3 million, more than 70 percent of the Arts Council’s budget. The City’s current contract with the Arts Council expires in June 2018, and City staff are considering changes to it.

Auditors found that risks exist because the City does not have clear goals for arts and culture, the Arts Council needs to articulate its strategy and regional role, and the City’s contract and oversight of it needs improvement.

We discussed our audit in a work session with City Council and the Arts Council’s interim Director, Jeff Hawthorne on Tuesday.