As Portland’s city government prepares to make decisions about next year’s budget, local arts administrators made their case with a State of the Arts report.
Last fiscal year, the Regional Arts and Culture Council received $5.2 million from the city - most of it from the General Fund. Very little money, about $200,000, came from the city’s new arts tax.
Eloise Damrosch is RACC’s director. She pointed out that with those funds, RACC is nowhere near an identified goal: providing select arts groups with 5 percent of their operating budgets.
Her emphasis was on what the status quo buys: $2.8 million for artists, schools and arts organizations, and arts experiences for 2.9 million people. RACC has funded reduced price tickets, public art projects, and networking for artists.
But Damrosch says expectations are shifting. “The seems to be a trend, nationally, about how audiences are changing. Audiences are wanting the offering they bought a ticket for, but they also want more interaction.”
In subsequent testimony, the arts tax oversight commission noted great strides have been made in funding arts and music classes. But, as one oversight committee member put it, the past year has been rocky for arts groups, which have received very little of the cash they’d hoped for from the arts tax.