Preeminent Portland arts organization Yale Union is dissolving as a nonprofit and handing its space over to Indigenous leadership.
Today, the Southeast Portland gallery and event space announced it has transferred ownership of its historic building to the Native Arts and Cultures Foundation, the first and only nonprofit in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to funding Native art and culture.
"Together, the NACF board and staff believe that this free land and building transfer will set an example for recognizing the value of Native ownership of property in urban areas across the nation," NACF president and CEO Lulani Arquette said in a press release. "It's liberating and encouraging to witness this kind of support for First Peoples of this country."
Since it was founded it 2008, Yale Union has become known as arguably Portland's most enigmatic art institution, hosting exhibits and performances by well-known international artists but often facing criticism by local media, including WW, for its lack of transparency.
Yale Union and NACF will co-manage the space until 2021, when Yale Union will dissolve as a nonprofit. Under NACF's leadership, the space will continue to host gallery shows, talks and other art events, as well as community learning events on anti-racism, decolonization and environmental justice.
According to Yale Union, the process began in 2018 under the leadership of the art space's then-executive director, the late Yoko Ott, who took over after co-founder Curtis Knapp suddenly stepped down in 2018.
"I am proud of what we have accomplished with Yale Union over the last decade. Having been able to fulfill our mission through the unearned privilege of property ownership," Yale Union co-founder Flint Jamison said in a press release, "it's now time that we hand over the keys!"