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Agencies Report Back On Portland Arts Support


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.

Animator and amateur haberdasher Joanne Priestly was among the creatives who came to thank city Commissioners for their support of the arts.

Animator and amateur haberdasher Joanne Priestly was among the creatives who came to thank city Commissioners for their support of the arts.

April Baer/Oregon Public Broadcasting

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.”

She says some groups, Northwest Dance Theatre and Portland Opera, are offering more interactive experiences.

Oversight Committee member Alina Harway (center) reports back on metrics the Committee used to assess how schools spent their arts tax disbursements. Also pictured, Craig Gibbons (left) and committee chair Stanley Penkin (right).

Oversight Committee member Alina Harway (center) reports back on metrics the Committee used to assess how schools spent their arts tax disbursements. Also pictured, Craig Gibbons (left) and committee chair Stanley Penkin (right).

April Baer/Oregon Public Broadcasting

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.

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