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Analysis: A Case Study In Public Support For Arts

OPB | April 26, 2014 9:45 a.m. | Updated: April 28, 2014 9:29 p.m. | Portland

The Regional Arts and Culture Council's annual State of the Arts report to city leaders has traditionally played out as a love fest.

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

This year's report, replete with live music, was presented back-to-back  with a check-in from the Citizen Oversight Committee (watch the whole meeting here), which is monitoring the city's new Arts Education and Access Fund - that's the $35-a-head arts tax that most Portland residents are now obliged to pay.

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

The latter presentation echoed some themes we talked about in detail a few weeks ago: schools have made great strides, hiring and retaining dozens of arts teachers. But direct operating support for arts groups remains elusive, largely because of anemic revenue returns on the new tax.

The twin presentations drew a complex picture of how public support for the arts is working. This week's guest curator, Jeff Jahn, weighs in.

For some further reading, see Jeff's essay on public support for the arts.

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