Dear Arts and Culture Community,
We must act now. We at the Oregon Arts Commission and the Oregon Cultural Trust stand in solidarity with those who are outraged by the killing of George Floyd and many other Black victims of despicable racial violence.
In the words of Governor Kate Brown, “mourning their loss is not enough. We must commit ourselves to racial justice.” These unforgivable acts of violence are a tragic symptom of a society that tolerates systemic racism, police brutality, white supremacy and oppression.
Now is the time to say enough. All of us, including the thousands of artists and cultural organizations that call Oregon home, must commit ourselves to immediate action. We must examine ourselves and our business practices to ensure we hear, and respond to, the voices that call for change.
We at the Arts Commission and the Cultural Trust promise to listen and learn from Black voices and other voices of color as we navigate our actions forward. We will continue to advocate for, amplify and stand beside the artists, cultural activists and arts professionals who work toward changing long-standing systems of power so that Black people experience equal rights and access, and are free from threat and violence.
To the Black community: we see you, we hear you and we support you. We are working to establish and implement better ways of serving artists of color, especially with artist relief funding. We hope to share details on a program soon.
We ask that you also commit to action now. Begin by reading this compelling open letter from Marcus C. Mundy, the executive director of Oregon’s Coalition of Communities of Color – in it he outlines steps he believes the justice system needs to take immediately.
Please join us in saying YES, Black Lives Matter – then back up those words by working for positive change in Oregon now.
Anne Taylor, Chair, Oregon Arts Commission
Chuck Sams III, Chair, Oregon Cultural Trust
Brian Rogers, Executive Director, Oregon Arts Commission and Oregon Cultural Trust
All Commissioners, Board Members and Staff
PS: More information and ways to get involved in the call for racial justice are available from Don’t Shoot Portland, the Black United Fund, The Portland African American Leadership Forum, The Urban League of Portland,NAACP Oregon and the MRG Foundation.