Eloise Damrosch

On November 6, Portland voters passed ballot measure 26-146 to restore arts and music programs in Portland schools and fund arts access citywide.

Needless to say, we are thrilled with the results—the measure passed with 62% approval! Measure 26-126 creates a new income tax of $35 per income-earning resident (above the federal poverty level), which will generate an estimated $12.5 million every year starting in 2013.

Approximately $6.8 million will pay for 68.5 certified arts education teachers in Portland’s school districts (Centennial, David Douglas, Parkrose, Portland Public, Reynolds, and Riverdale) —that’s one arts specialist for every 500 students. Districts receiving these funds will be required to maintain weekly arts instruction in grades K–5.

In addition, the new tax will generate about $5.7 million per year for our local arts agency:

  • $3.8 million will fund arts organizations that provide arts programming and access for every Portland resident through RACC’s general support grants program
  • $1.6 million will fund project grants to schools and arts organizations that provide arts programming for K-12 students and underserved residents
  • $366,000 is being set aside to coordinate arts education programs across Portland’s six school districts. Our partnership with the Kennedy Center’s Any Given Child program will be our foundation for this work.

In the months ahead, we will be having lots of conversations with local arts organizations to help them build plans that leverage these resources. Our ultimate goal is to improve arts access in the City of Portland and build new audiences.

What can we do together to create even more free and reduced-cost arts experiences and ensure that every Portland resident has the opportunity to connect with arts and culture, regardless of income, geography or physical ability? Some of their initial thinking on this topic thus far is captured in a recent Oregonian article.

This campaign was years in the making, and our victory was made possible thanks to hundreds of volunteers and thousands of passionate arts advocates. We are especially grateful to Portland Mayor Sam Adams who led on this issue from the moment he took office, and to Jessica Jarratt Miller and the staff and board of the Creative Advocacy Network who designed and campaigned for a ballot measure that proved tremendously successful in our community.

At long last, we can finally say, WE DID IT! We look forward to sharing more information in the months ahead as we work to implement these exciting new initiatives.

One Response to “Arts Education Campaign Yields Results in Portland”

  1. [...] Denver’s arts community is in an unusual situation, finding itself with $57 million in publicly approved bond money for capital construction to spend after a planned renovation of Boettcher Concert Hall failed to go through. The mayor has submitted a list of recommendations redirecting the cash to nine institutions. Denver’s not the only city with new publicly approved money for the arts: as previously reported here, the city of Portland, OR’s Regional Arts and Culture Commission will get $5.7 million a year in new arts funding because of a recently passed ballot measure. Eloise Damrosch explains how it happened. [...]

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Alec Baldwin and Nigel Lythgoe talk about the state of the arts in America at Arts Advocacy Day 2012. The acclaimed actor and famed producer discuss arts education and what inspires them.