In Oregon, Portland Has a Surplus, So the Local Arts Do, Too

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Oregon

January 30, 2015; The Oregonian

Amidst all the sob stories of cuts in public funding for the arts, it’s nice to see a city supporting its local arts organizations through a special tax and, remarkably, with money left over in its budget.

The Oregonian reports that the art museum, the symphony, and 14 other arts organizations in the city of Portland will receive $1.4 million from an arts tax and from surplus money found in the city’s budget last fall. The funds, ranging from $1000 to nearly half a million, will be distributed by the Regional Arts & Culture Council, an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit itself.

If you go to the Council’s website, you will see a section for “Advocacy” linked prominently just below the masthead, indicating that in all likelihood, this fortunate turn of events did not come about in a vacuum but through a collaborative organizing effort by the region’s arts community. Predictably, much of the group’s advocacy is focused on a robust flow of local public and philanthropic funding.

The grants are in addition to funds the groups received last fall from the Council, the paper reports. The grants provide at least 3.8 percent of the amount the groups are eligible to receive from the arts tax; the goal of the RACC is to provide five percent of each group’s budget. Most of the funding goes to the five large arts organizations that had the largest funding discrepancies in the past.—Larry Kaplan