The boards of directors of the top arts organizations in the Portland area are key leaders and supporters of public arts. What exactly does “leader” and “supporter” mean at a provincial arts organization?

Leaders speak out – publicly and actively on behalf of the arts, to build audiences, to entice students, to steward public funding through governmental budgeting. They write letters to public officials and opinion pieces in local papers. They volunteer to speak on behalf of their organization in public meetings. They share their experience and prudence to counterbalance the natural enthusiasm of trained and paid staff.

Leaders provide support – which means cash and never means hugs. A mature board should raise 10% of the budget with a give or get off policy enforced by the board president.

If you’re on the board of an arts organization more than five years old or with a budget of over $250,000 and you’re not actively involved in speaking out and raising cash, you’re wasting space and time. Consider stepping down now and allowing someone with more vigor, time or courage to step forward.

Wait a second! you executive director-types say, arts-savvy board members with cash and connections don’t just grow on trees on this castaway island we call Portland! Yes they do – if you’re a smart hunter-gatherer, you can find them prepped and ready for harvesting!

Here is a incomplete list of board chairs and presidents of Portland arts organizations, and for some, the all important Charity Navigator rating.

(Who in Oregon gets the bottom ONE STAR [or POOR] rating? Doernbecher, Friends of the Trees, OPB, OMSI, Raphael House, Tucker-Maxon Oral School, William Temple House & Young Audiences all do – take your donations elsewhere until these rate at least four stars.)

Oregon Ballet – John M. Bernard, chair of the board. John is a senior vice president at Standard Insurance. Charity Navigator, a uniformly cruel and accurate measurement of nonprofits, rates the Oregon Ballet with TWO STARSNEEDS IMPROVEMENT.

Oregon Arts Commission – Cynthia Addams, chair of the commission. She is director of programs for the Collins Foundation. OAC is funded through the state of Oregon.

Oregon Children’s Theatre – Mark Wilcox, chair of the board. I have no idea who this person is.

Regional Arts and Cultural Commission – Mary Edmeades, chair of the board. Mary is vice president of Operations for Albina Community Bank. RACC just published an excellent annual report. RACC is funded from a variety of governmental sources.

Portland Art MuseumMarty Brantley, chair of the board. Marty is former chief of the OECDD, which oversees the Oregon Arts Commission. He toiled as president of KPTV, and is former chair of the Portland Development Commission. Charity Navigator gives the Portland Art Museum THREE STARSGOOD (measured prior to John and Lucy splitting town).

Young Audiences of Oregon & SW Washington – Jan Robertson is president of the board. Jan is also CFO for property managers Norris Beggs & Simpson. Charity Navigator gives Young Audiences ONE STAR – POOR.

Portland Opera – Jeff Evershed is president of the board. He’s a VP at M&T Banks, yet somehow lives in Lake Oswego (perhaps he’s the forefront of a colonizing hoard), and he’s a Mitt Romney man.

Artist Repertory Theatre – Kirsten Leonard is chair of the board. She’s a project manager for Carpe Diem Books, a tabletop publisher here in Portland.

Portland Center Stage – Donna R. Huntsman, chair of the board. Donna is a senior vice president at Key Private Bank.

Chamber Music NW – Peter Livingston (see right) is the president of the board and also an attorney with Schwabe Williamson & Wyatt (and a degree in musicology from Chicago!) Charity Navigator gives Chamber Music NW FOUR STARS – EXCEPTIONAL.

Oregon Symphony is two organizations, the Oregon Symphony Association, which is chaired by Walter Weyler, former owner of Kinetics and a cancer survivor, and the Oregon Symphony Foundation, which is chaired by Jack Wilborn, who has run the KPMG office in Portland since 1996. Charity Navigator gives the Oregon Symphony TWO STARSNEEDS IMPROVEMENT.

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