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Think Out Loud

The Price of Art

It seems that everywhere you turn in certain parts of Cascadia you can’t help but run into someone making a movie, or writing a novel, or starting a band. This is, we’re told, an arts mecca and magnet: a place to come to, with or without a job, because it’s both cheap enough to scrape together a living and dense enough with fellow artists that the “creative class” has a critical mass.

At the same time we read that Oregon ranks 48th per capita for state funding of the arts (Washington isn’t too much better at 46th; you can read the full PDF from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies here) — and that this leads to plenty of funding headaches. Just this past Saturday, in fact, the Portland Arts Center announced it was closing its doors.

Is this evidence of the “pioneer” culture that Eric Bartels mentions in his Portland Tribune article — a paint-yourself-up-with your-own-paintbrush kind of place? Is this the result of not enough corporate sponsors (or corporations, period)? Or is this perhaps, once again, with a hat tip to JuliaMJK in her Timber Payments comment, a question of taxes?

If there is a thriving arts community in Oregon, can we maintain it without more public funding?




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