I thinl that there should always be public funding for art because children when they are in school don't always have access to those resources, especially those who are poor and have parent who can't pay to have them enrolled in classes.
In my understanding of cities, the regenerating process starts with the schools. This means that public funding for the arts is necessary at all grades. It also means that the community has to supplement the government effort by coming into the schools to add arts experiences. A generation of children who receive this complete art education will be a generation who change government policy to reproduce more graduates like them. That is exactly what is happening now. The government is reproducing a generation of students like them.
When you ask people if they value art you get an answer, often yes. If you want to know what they really value, look in their electronic and paper calendars; their check book and credit card statements. How I allocate my time and dollars is often a more accurate mirror of my values in action than what I say on a survey or when asked. When I ask kids at age 5 if they are artists, most say yes and proudly show me their art work. Ask again at age 16 and most say no. When and how did we extinguish the natural artist in each of us . . . and what might that change in belief in self-as-artist have to do with support for the arts as an adult?
So you are saying that people value the arts for little children. Since we don't provide relevant art education to older children they stop identifying with the natural artist in each of them. Of course communication is political. So ART is political. Until we widen our point of view about who we are and what we approve of, we will continue to shut down the arts to shut each other out. From this perspective, what "we" mostly agree on is grade school art. When we can agree on something more grown up we will feel a lot better about about teaching art in the higher grades. Until then on a school by school basis, the community has to supplement art education IN the schools in order to grow a new generation with more inclusive values. For people in general and children in particular, art and self esteem are positively related.
Thanks very much for your comment and question, CharlesMaclean. I'll definitely bring it up with our guests.
I've just stumbled across an interesting web post, written by a Portland artist, that I hope we'll also talk about on the show. I'd love to hear what you guys think about it.
You'll find the whole post at Considering Art, but here are the nut graphs:
"We in the arts are conditioned to receive money and gifts from benefactors. We are passionate and deeply believe that our creative spirits would be crushed if we focused on our craft as a business instead of this wild passion. For the most part, we cannot balance our checkbooks, work up a business plan, or talk to others outside of our industry as tax paying individuals. We have become slaves to our society. We have actually come to believe that we must ask for donations in order to survive. We have not been educated to look at our craft as anything other than a creative endeavor that, if the gods look favorability on us, will allow us to continue?just one more month, season, performance.
With this mentality, we have limited ourselves. We think, 'if only we had funding, we could do this.' Or 'we only received this much funding, so we won't be able to do this.' We have created a patron-slave mentality that has to stop because, good as the funding is, that funding is really hurting us.
I think it is time to take up the MBA mentality and learn that we are, indeed, business people. We have a vision, a mission, and a product to sell. I think it is time for the art schools and universities to not only teach the various creative skills, but to teach how to make money at these various skills."
Do you support this "call to action?"
I DO agree we need to think of ourselves as a business and learn how to create new opportunity and make the opportunity we have more profitable.
AND I think often people mistakenly believe that to do that we have to give up our integrity and our creativity. Not so!
In addition to being a theatre artist I am also a small business coach, and I have worked with 100s of small businesses that have found a way to make it work without selling out their values. You have to think like a big boy in terms of going after ways to make the $ you need. But you do not have to sell out or think like some of them do in terms of poor quality and false promises to do it.
I can get my clients to think about marketing and other practical concepts because they trust this fact- but my artist colleagues assume they will turn into Enron by just taking the time to learn how to write a show poster that actually makes someone want to attend the show.
The schools need to foster the arts as business idea-but every forward thinking artist with a brain needs to foster it too. The new message is that you can do your art AND make money without selling out your creativity or your ideals. The idea that we will not have the time, ability or brain power forward our art if we are also learning about business is just plain silly. All of us have the capacity to learn and do in many areas of our lives all at once or we would all be broken people without friends, family, running water or day jobs. While there are some of those- most artists are pretty high functioning people.
We need to fully believe in ourselves and in the idea that we can succeed both practically and creatively at the same time. Once we do that we will figure out the specific "how tos" to get there. We are smart people and it IS possible.
Thanks for bringing up a really important topic.
(And if you want to jump in on the specifics and share your ideas on how to do that for Theatre specifically go to Theatre Puget Sound at http://tpsonline.org/
The discussion thread I am talking about is at
As a native North Portlander, I feel like there is a sense of entitlement coming from the creative class and bike culture warriors. We have been forced to equate their faux-poverty and struggle as artistic and inherently Portland. I have seen my neighborhood transformed into a mecca for the "creative class," and it has done nothing but drive up housing costs and lessen its historic diversity.
The only thing creative about this class is the how they have creatively and systematically destroyed much of historic Portland.
Interesting to link this to the topic of the first show on Tuesday, as far as people coming to the area with money left over from more expensive cities where they used to live. Maybe that's some of what is allowing people to be artists here without much community or government support, as well as snatching up the local real estate?
Does this mean that native North Portlander's are not in the creative class and are not in the bike culture? Are you saying that these two groups are living in 'faux' poverty while you are living in 'real' poverty? So there is competition for resources and the creative class is out competing you? Are you also saying you are excluded from the creative class? Would adopting creative class ideas benefit you? Your reference to diversity, suggests that this is about class and RACE. It is true that there has been systematic economic suppression of non-whites in housing and jobs. In my understanding of how cities work, this means that not only the arts but also the other missing elements of the community have to be taught in the schools. On a school by school basis, people have to come in to teach how to own a house and who owns the houses in the neighborhood around the school. In a generation those children will own a lot more houses than they will otherwise.
The true value of arts and culture to a city's well being and economic success is often underestimated. It is no accident that Portland is an attractive place for immigrants and many businesses who share its values as a place and community. Imagine e.g. McMenamin's brew pubs (a great Portland innovation) without their artistic and cultural focus. So investing in the arts as government or business is good for many great and fundamental reasons. The cultural life of Portland is a major part of why life here is good. In the event that public funding and support has to choose priorities, often the best approach is to support the innovative and development aspects to all the different artforms, in accordance with well crafted policies seeking identified outcomes, in anticipation of investing in the growth and future development and continuing success of each of those arts and their practitioners.
There's no way to publicly fund all the artists in a community with a 75% artist rate (statistic for example, is not scientific). Furthermore, in a city of starving artists, it's difficult to sell anything except beer.
All the artists have to group together. My friend is a member of Six Days, an artists' co-op collective art gallery on NE Alberta; I run a company called Basementia Records that offers free online distribution for local self-produced and independent musicians. Even though some organizations fail, new ones will pop up and eventually people will be able to put their heads together and figure out a better way to be both creative and self-supporting.
I am so glad there are self supporting types of artists in the discussion. In my understanding of the role of the arts, I see that art reflects the interests of the artists or it reflects what they can sell. So in the USA art is generally appealing to the collective mindset (middle class and higher) while in some other countries the arts are devoted to the needs of the poor or to politics. It takes courage to speak your mind. It takes courage to be an artist. I am not suggesting that people take unreasonable risks. On principle, I give spiritual support to each person in developing their artistic talents. I freely teach others to do the kind of art that I do (bargello tapestry).
I am hoping for more art that is relevant to me. The simplist responce to that is for me to become an artist. BUT am I the only woman who wants art to deal with health issues, to deal with disability, to deal with aging, to deal with domestic abuse of children, to deal with sexual abuse of children, to deal with the loss of songbirds here, to deal with the ivy taking over the forests?????????? I think the arts don't get many of my dollars because the arts aren't reflecting what I am think and feeling.
There is a thriving 'arts' community here (although sometimes I think the definition is rather narrow). And this is a 'can do' culture here.
So, we can all paint, sculpt, design a dress, perform an aria, join a band, whatever and do it in our garage, living room, or back yard.
But what happens when you want to show your painting, sing with others, produce a play? Where are you going to do that? And how will you pay for it? ticket/admission revenues are not the answer!
The huge debt that many of the main stream cultural organizations are carrying in this town is overwhelming -- just look at OMSI, PCS, Symphony to name a few. And the closure of the PICA, Portland Art Center and the troubles at the Firehouse Cultural Center. The BigO does a story on this about once a year.
So do we need funding for the arts here? Duh!
I think it is important to recognize that depending on private dollars for arts and culture funding influences the art and subject matter that is available to the public. For example, if the local historical society depends on timber money for its funding base, how likely is it to develop an exhibit on the environmental impact of clear-cutting?
The funds that support arts and culture are easily cut in bad economic times - it is hard to argue that they are "essential services". But arts and culture contribute to a community's quality of life and bring others to visit the northwest. We deserve public support for arts and culture, and our arts and culture deserve a stable funding base to help them better serve the public.
My name is Cheryl Strayed. I am a writer living in Portland. I moved here from Minnesota, a state which is ranked 13th in the nation for state arts funding, as opposed to Oregon's number 48. The lack of support is definitely something I've felt. Though there are some grants available to individual artists from a few nonprofit agencies, those grants are relatively small (a few thousand, as opposed to sums significant enough to truly support an artist on a major project) and limited. My husband is also an artist--he's a documentary filmmaker--and, much as we love Oregon, we have had serious discussions about moving to a more arts-friendly state, since both of us make our living as independent artists.
In my mind, what needs to change has to do with the way Oregonians think about taxes. We are one of the few states without a sales tax. This is why we are a state at the bottom of the arts-funding scale, in constant struggle to fund the schools and social services. You get what you pay for; we won't be a thriving arts community in the longterm unless we support that community. Much as we are all loathe to pay taxes, the fact is that it's our civic duty to fund the kind of world we hope to live in. Artists play a large part in making our community more vibrant, more interesting, more soulful. It's worth the few dollars each taxpayer would pay annually.
As a parent and an artist I am discouraged by the lack of outlets in Portland suburbs for children to get involved with the arts. There is a *lot* of money in bedroom communities being spent on sports and academic outlets and nowhere to take acting/painting/dance workshops. If the artistic communities would being outreach programs to the areas where the pockets are the deepest I think they would find that their contributions would begin to increase.
Ria in Sherwood
Art is tired. This concept of supporting the poor struggling egotistical artist is dead. Artists are the new preachers. Art is the new religion. Artists have the same mentality as evangelicals - they are always in fear, they think they are always right, they think everyone is against them and they think their view/work is the most important and everyone must know about it. I am a supporter of the arts and consider myself an artist, but I don't hold myself on this saintly level and fetishize the pompous - look at me nature - of what art inherently is.
It's not clear in all of this /why/ governments (and corporations) should fund art and artists in the first place. Is it an general ambient good like street trees? Is it a farm system feeding professional media? Is it the tribute vice (the dull commercial pursuits) pays to virtue (the artistic pursuits)?
As a visual artist and educator I think one of the reasons individual and corporate patronage is limited is because we do not have a viable contemporary art institution, i.e. a contemporary arts museum dedicated specifically to the global contemporary visual culture. This condition means that unless one travels regularly there is a general lack of exposure and understanding of challenging contemporary forms. I believe that until we have a major institution that through programming educates the entire population of Oregon including potential donors we will have this gap. I think the gap ind patronage is directly related to the gap in exposure.
I passionately believe in the power of art to make a diffference in the lives of young people. I am currently working on my 19th mural at Fernwood School in North East Portland. I am not financially compensated but the comments and interest I recieve are priceless and stand as testimony to the powerful effect art can have. Happily, this year the PTA has offered to help me with the cost of my materials, but even if they hadn't I would keep on painting. I feel my gift has made the school a nore welcoming,uplifting place in which to learn. Art makes a difference. It is worthy of support.
Ida Galash pronounced gal as in gallon + ish as in fish
North East Portland
How do you expect to get funding, support, and influnence in a community that you don't intend on staying in? Portland and Oregon would be better served if the large portions of the creative class that see us as some sort of rest stop left now or never came at all.
Having moved here last year from New York (where I made most of my living as a writer and some of it as a musician and music teacher), I can testify that real estate is one of the major headaches for the arts. There, real estate prices have gotten so outrageous that almost every "artistic" performance space in the city has closed, along with almost every independent bookstore, small gallery, and art-house cinema. Nobody can afford to pay the rent. Looks like the same thing is happening here now too. At the risk of sounding Republican, one solution (though I don't know the laws behind this) would be to give tax breaks to landlords who lease space to arts organizations at below-market rent. Another alternative would be to incentivize real estate companies to provide temporary space to arts organizations in between-tenant commercial properties -- for one-week shows, for instance.
I couldn't get through on the telephone, but I totally agree with your speaker who talked about the importance of art education. As an elementary school teacher I would find it impossible to teach young children without the aid of the arts. Art teaches us about life, responsibilities, sensibilities and being caring, reasoning beings. And yet, when money gets tight, the arts are the first programmes that get cut in schools. Until Oregon learns to spend money on the arts in education we will never have a public who appreciate that contributing to the upkeep of the arts is vital for society. For example, Columbia University in New York has an excellent and successful reading program that teaches children using REAL books, written by REAL authors, not fabricated text books. When you educate the next generation to believe that the arts are important and not just a tag on then you will have a public that will support something that they value.
Several thoughts as I try to get this to you in time...
One, arts organization must adapt to the climate they exist within...if there is a lack of giving, there must be a stronger earned income model developed. If art is not valued as a core asset, it must become a core commodity. Learn how to make money not just ask for it.
Two, physical infrastructure is very important. A place to exhibit and perform. Civic leadership must begin to assist with the development of this physical infrastructre...and be wary of building too much virtual infrastructure.
Somebody give me a call please. I have a wealth of experience and insight. Sincerely,
Disjecta IAC, Inc
507 NE Morgan
Portland, OR 97211
(503) 922-1824 (fax)
The Medicis are dead and we now have an institutional form of government that provides incentives for all kinds of economic activity -- like owning a home or relocating a business. Arts and culture bring beauty and stimulus to our lives, sometimes even enlightenment. But they also contribute to the community, economically and civically. Artists are taxpayers, too, and theater companies generate jobs in a ripple effect that includes fabric stores, paint shops and lighting suppliers, to say nothing of drinks, dinner and dresses in preparation for a night on the town! Young people who get involved in the arts are motivated by their own creativity, they learn participation, teamwork and discipline. Aren't these the hallmarks of good citizens? Giving to culture at the government, corporate, foundation and individual levels is a smart investment
I saw a study that demonstrated that spending on the arts (by government) generated seven dollars in the economy for every one spent. See above, the ripple effect.
I work in a different field now, and when I am creative I employ two or three, instead of dozens. A few dozen might see my work, instead of hundreds.
Donations are seed money. They make the venture possible.
Yes, we can think like MBA's. But then the creative director puts creativity into ads, and tie ins, and the creative process starves.
I had a touring modern dance company elsewhere for seven years.
Here, while I could find quality dancers, this was not possible for me. Most all of the dancers had full time real jobs - not the kind you quit to tour. For most dancers, there was not the possibility to make a living at all as a dancer, so they had developed serious money jobs, and got up early or rehearsed after work, in order to keep dancing.
When a company can perform a lot together, in front of different audiences in different spaces, it becomes honed to another level. There is a polish, and a tight ensemble. It becomes a fine instrument.
There are choreographers and dancers here with this potential, but without more support, only a handful can ever develop international quality.
What we do have here is invention and passion.
But remember - there have been talented individuals throughout history. We had the Italian Renaissance, for example, because patrons met that talent and allowed it full florishing.
Somebody's willingness to pay for art has often been the predominant measure of art's value. This was true when famous cathedrals were painted, when rich bid on auctioned classics, and it rings true as we wrap up Sundance. While the motivations for these examples vary (to inspire, to demonstrate wealth, to make money, etc.), artists succeeded by understanding the demand for such things. If sufficient people (individuals, business sponsors, etc.) are unwilling to see 2 tons of sand fall from the ceiling for the sake of its "conceptual value", then it's a sign that our inherent democracy and marketplace simply don't see sufficient value for the effort expended. Artists can bemoan the lack of sympathy for a lost opportunity, but perhaps it's just a sign of art elitism to want people to accept art forms that others simply do not wish to sponsor.
Just wanted to note that I work with Freightliner LLC (now Daimler Trucks North America)in Portland. This company is EXTREMELY Frustrated with the reputation that they have in this community (especially relative to the Silicon Forest companies). It is quite likely that they will leave the area due to their relationship with local government. My point is that they DO support the arts by fully funding the Zoo concerts. You should make it a point to specifically identify efforts like this on your show. Give them the marketing kudos they're looking for! It will help!
I have lived in a community where land development or redevelopment in the city had an arts component. Anyone wanting to have a new project had to include public art in the proposal. A certain level of the budget had to be dedicated to art for the development to be approved. This led to public sculpture, murals, unique bus stops and bike racks, etc. This way art and smart growth can go hand in hand.
Hello - I am a classically trained musician who plays in orchestras as well as in a band that has a moderate level of success here in Portland. I've also been involved in writing scores for professional theater and performance art projects. I know many many artists in this town and with the exception of a few, most of us work at least 1 job in order to survive. Our reality as individuals, as the "little guys" is that we can barely afford to live. However, In Spring of 2007 there were at least 3 ads in the New Yorker Magazine touting Portland as a great place for artists.... we can't live here if we don't have support
Hi. I am an artist (Canadian, living in the Greater Portland Area). North Americans, either due to the pioneering history or the fact that many immigrants came from backgrounds that were lacking in education or cultural awareness (ie. poor, hoping to make a new life in the New World), or as some think, in America anyway, the Puritan influence, don't seem to value fine art, or they seem to class it in the same way they think of groceries or consumer items, which are factory made. Perhaps people think it is like churning out mass produced goods, which, due to industrialization, can put items on shelves cheap enough for almost everyone. Fine art is about quality, involving the vision, talent, and hard work of the artist. I don't think non-artists realize how much work is involved in creating fine art, how much thought, how much problem-solving, how much craft (skill), and how you cultivate your sensibility and your skills, and that this all involves spending a lot of time doing it. We don't educate our children in school about art either, so I guess that says a lot about how much we value it.
People are now realizing with the writers' strike, tv and film start with writers...without the written screenplays, stories etc., the actors have no material and no jobs, the directors have no material and no jobs, etc.etc. But they still don't realize this also goes for visual and fine arts too...Everything you enjoy culturally that makes life more than just survival or a scrabble for a living, comes from the creative efforts of artists, performers, musicians etc. The fabric and clothes we wear, the books and magazines, the furniture we use, the music we listen to, the plays and films we watch all, the paintings we hang or the sculptures we place around the house come from artists.
Historically, artists in Western civilization (look to Europe) have been supported or hired by monarchs, the Church, the Pope, governments (good and bad, for propoganda or purely aesthetic purposes). Travel to England and the Continent...art galleries and museums are everywhere, supported by the state and open to all at affordable rates or free.. Rich and poor can and do wander the Louvre, the National Gallery - they value the arts in a way that North Americans do not. For the government here to shrug it off is ignorant and backward, as if it revels in the idea of being a hick about culture. Producing visual art or performing arts productions is not the same as selling gasoline, stocks and bonds, manufacturing steel, or making computers. Neither is educating our children, which seems to barely rank above art in this culture. Once you have the basics for survival, the soul needs art, the mind needs educating.
I also think we need corporate support as well, as they benefit from the community in a huge way, and they like to advertise a healthy cultural life in their location to attract people to work for them, or move to the communities where they are based.
On a personal level, I'd ask people to think about how much they spend on coffee drinks at Starbucks, how much they spend on knick-knacks, entertainment, books, magazines, alchohol, eating out etc. and then look at how much it would cost to buy a piece of original art. If you spend several hundred dollars on those things, is it worth it to you to spend a similar amount on a painting, a sculpture, a drawing, a print?
It would be interesting to re-spin this conversation. What if individual artists were the measure of funding? Most conversations about arts funding focus on administrators, organizations, corporations,etc. The life of the artist is secondary. In some countries, individual artists receive stipends to support the development of their intellectual property eg. their art. I would like to be informed about how much of the money raised through all funding sources end up paying salaries and benefits for arts administrators? Artists need reasonable places to live and benefits,too.
I have been extremely fortunate as Oregon artist, within a year of arriving here from the East coast I received an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship in poetry from Literary Arts, andreceived another one a few years later, and then, the Oregon Book Award. I have also received a Professional Development grant from RACC. I know many writers who have felt similarly supported. Willa Schneberg
Estacada is a small timber town that has found the arts to be a powerful force for community building. We now have a thriving visual arts community, an annual art and music celebration, a remodeled 800-seat auditorium, 13 large scale outdoor murals painted every summer, an arts and culture series, a vibrant downtown core instead of closed storefronts, a grassroots theater group and an awareness at the district level of the importance of arts education. Our beautiful new library was the first public benefit to benefit from our percent for art ordinace passed by the city council. All this has taken place over the last 6 years.
Because we can count on very little corporate support, much of this came about from a combination of wonderful small grants from RACC, OAC, the Oregon Cultural Trust (through the Clackamas Cultural Coalition), and the National Endowment for the Arts combined with a HUGE can-do, all-volunteer group of artists, arts supporters and community leaders, from our mayor to the head of our chamber of commerce. The snowball effect in action.
Our most recent all-community arts experience was a holiday concert in our auditorium of the full Oregon Symphony. All 850 seats were sold out. We also received last year the Oregon Symphony Community Music Partnership, supported by public and foundation funding acquired by the Symphony, which had symphony musicians in residence at all our schools, included small ensemble community concerts and culminated in another full orchestra performance last spring.
These successes have been a result of contagious enthusiasm, awareness of resources, patience, collaboration, tenacity and the willingness to start small but think big.
I?m the Director of Development at the Museum of Contemporary Craft. It?s frustrating to me, and I imagine perahps Oregon's arts community as a whole, that you opened the piece with the failure of an Arts organization without the counterbalance of a successful arts institution. Oregon's art scene is not just a rearrangement of the deck chairs on the Titanic. Against the odds, it thrives. And, as Virginia Willard at NWBCA and POVA can point out, it actually contributes to the success of the economy and places Portland prominently on the national stage.
One of the very basic and core tenants of fundraising is that people fund success. An organization?s success comes from leadership and leadership is successful when organizations are delivering a clear mission and have strong 3-5 year strategic plans in place that include quantitative and qualitative goals.
Leadership prospers through partnerships: Corporate (sponsorships), Governmental (public funding); private foundations and individual contributions (read fiscal as well as time and expertise from board and committee members). These ?unearned? contributions to organizations, both time and money, drive the success of an organization. They demonstrate the community?s support.
Audience development--increasing awareness for an art form--whether the organization is Ethos, Broadway Rose Theater, or The Portland Opera is a job, not just for the non-profit community (which is a misnomer, might we call it social equity?), but for the community at large. For the creative class to be sustainable it requires a constant cultivation of the next generation. And that is a job for all of us as community as partners sharing diverse values that can be attained through creative thinking, problem solving and the creation of art.
I will be spending my rebate at the non- profit Print Arts Northwest!! For Twenty-six years PAN has been providing Portland with some of the best resources for Printmaking and the appreciation of prints. Originally known as the Northwest Print Council, it continues to grow and develop, offering more and more to the community. We now provide ongoing exhibitions for our Artist Members, we offer the best value of any Portland gallery for original art, and we provide a wide range of educational programs for printmakers and art enthusiasts at all skill levels.
PAN has created a network of artists and collectors offering an information exchange about printmaking. We currently represent 140 artists from seven states and four continents. Our goal remains to support this wonderful art form through the promotion, practice, appreciation, education and collection of original prints.
I am on the board, and I am an artist member, meaning that I show my artwork there. I believe the arts are woefully underfunded in Oregon. We keep applying for grants and don't often get funding due to the limited funding and intense non-profit competition. As a result, we were unable to get funding for a workshop facility, so I decided to start one anyway, using private funds! Atelier Meridian, a collaborative membership press, was born in May of 2007. We provide presses and all the tools and equipment necessary for producing etchings, monotypes, lithographs, and woodcuts. It's a travesty that our state does not value culture enough to support organizations like PAN, and it's unfortunate that private individuals have to step forward to support the arts.
Master Printer, Atelier Meridian
665 N Tillamook, Portland OR 97227
Portland Art Center is closing its facility at NW 5th and Couch in Portland. The non profit organization, Portland Art Center, moves on as a project based organization that will focus on continuing to provide resources and services to the arts community. Look forward to temporary contemporary art exhibits and events in the future.
Portland Art Center
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