The Oregon Community Foundation (OCF) is seeking a new owner for the Albina Arts Center, which brought arts programs to the historically black Albina neighborhood beginning in the 1960s. It has been in limbo ever since. 2015, when the Oregon Department of Justice took control of the brick building, located at the corner of Northeast Killingsworth Street and North Williams Avenue.
“This is an opportunity for philanthropy to do things differently, to employ an intentional, community-led process that will center black voices,” said Marcy Bradley, vice president for equity and culture at the OCF, in a press release. “This is a potential model for other building owners in this city who also recognize that Portland’s black community deserves to reclaim the spaces they have been displaced from. We need more targeted approaches to this type, because they can finally contribute to the long-awaited healing and restoration of the community.
The search for a new owner is facilitated by Try Excellence, a black-owned consulting firm. Ericka Warren leads the research team which aims “a community-centered visioning and strategic planning effort to promote a collective vision for the future of the Albina Center for the Arts building,” according to the press release.
“This process must be inclusive and fair,” Warren said. “There are so many black community organizations doing good work. And we should all have the opportunity to say how this building is best served. I hope the community will feel empowered and valued in a space where everyone can express themselves. It is our collaborative work today that will pave the way for future generations.
Try Excellence intends to work with 20-30 community members who will join the Albina Arts Center Vision Committee, which will create the process to identify and recommend a nonprofit organization to become the building’s new steward. The research should be completed this year.
The Albina Arts Center has a tumultuous history. In the late 1960s, the building was acquired by the Albina Women’s League Foundation. But in 2015, one of the foundation’s executives was charged with embezzlement, leading the Oregon Department of Justice to take control of the building.
Don’t Shoot Portland tried to acquire the Albina Arts Center in 2019, according to the group’s attorney, Kristen Chambers, who spoke to the OPB about it earlier this year. However, Chambers says the Oregon Department of Justice rejected Don’t Shoot Portland’s offer.
Related: Soul Restoration Project Residency Extends Black Artists Lounge at Albina Arts Center Through January