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RACC Press Release: Small Gifts Add Up to Big Success for Work for Art

For immediate release   Contact: Mary Bauer, Communications Associate Regional Arts & Culture Council  |  www.racc.org 108 NW 9th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR  97209-3318 503.823.5111  |  email: [email protected]   Through vision, leadership and service, the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) works to integrate arts and culture in all aspects of community life. 

August 4, 2009

Small Gifts Add Up to Big Success for Work for Art

Work for Art, a program of the Regional Arts & Culture Council, is an umbrella fund for arts and culture organizations based in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties. Since 2005, Work for Art has raised more than $1.7 million in new money for the tri-county region’s arts and culture community.  NW Natural’s president and CEO will chair the 2009-10 campaign.

Success stories are hard to come by in this economy, and the arts are no exception. Large gifts from corporations and foundations that could usually underwrite a season are shrinking in direct correlation with stock portfolios. But Work for Art is tapping a new audience of first-time arts donors who are proving that you don’t have to have money like the Medicis to be a patron of the arts.

Work for Art closed out the 2008-09 campaign season on June 30 with a total of $665,863 raised, including gifts from workplace giving campaigns, corporations, foundations and a public matching challenge fund. That’s a 19 percent increase from the previous year, an amazing feat considering the down economy.

Sustainable fast-food chain Burgerville proved that when a lot of people contribute a little bit, it makes a big difference. They included Work for Art in their workplace giving campaign for the first time in 2009. Many elected to give via payroll deduction. Burgerville employees made their company one of Work for Art’s top 10 contributors this year, even though many of their pledges were less than $50.

All gifts, regardless of size, are matched dollar-for-dollar by a public matching challenge fund provided by the City of Portland, Clackamas County, Multnomah County and Washington County. A single gift to Work for Art supports more than 80 arts and culture organizations that represent a range of disciplines and provide services in the region and throughout the state.


Gregg Kantor, president and CEO of NW Natural, will helm the 2009-10 Work for Art campaign as its honorary chair. The campaign got underway in July and will run through June 30, 2010. NW Natural’s employee gifts and the company match of those gifts have made it Work for Art’s No. 1 contributor for the past two years.

In addition to workplace campaigns, Work for Art staff plans to seek additional unique modes of arts funding in the upcoming months. Already this year, the program has partnered with Sinju Restaurant to produce fundraising events at their locations in Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington Counties that coincided with the July opening of Sinju’s third restaurant at Clackamas Town Center.


Jae En Woo, general manager at the new restaurant, said Work for Art was a natural choice as the beneficiary of Sinju’s events. Both have a presence in all three counties that comprise the Portland metro area, and Woo said the restaurant wanted to reciprocate the arts community’s patronage of her family’s restaurants.

Work for Art has a goal of reaching thousands more potential donors in the upcoming year in hopes of proving that despite the economy, everyone can be a Medici.


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BY THE NUMBERS: $665,863: amount raised in 2008-09 80: number of arts and culture organizations Work for Art is supporting through grants in 2009-10 56: number of businesses, nonprofits and foundations that participated in the 2008-09 campaign 19: percent increase from amount raised in 2007-08

Top Ten Work for Art Campaigns, 2009-10:

1.     NW Natural

2.     State of Oregon

3.     Portland General Electric

4.     Zimmer Gunsul Frasca

5.     City of Portland

6.     Sunshine Dairy Foods

7.     The Standard

8.     Burgerville

9.     Multnomah County

10.  SmartForest Ventures

CONTACTS: Kathryn Jackson, Work for Art manager | 503-823-5424 | [email protected]

Jae En Woo, Sinju Restaurant general manager | 503-706-9720 | [email protected]

Jack Graves, Burgerville cultural officer | 360-960-4453 | [email protected]

Peter Bilotta, Portland Opera development director | 503-241-1407| [email protected]




Mary Bauer

Communications Associate

Regional Arts & Culture Council

108 NW 9th Avenue, #300

Portland, OR 97209