Celebrating the One-Year Anniversary of the Passage of Portland’s groundbreaking new Arts Education & Access Fund
On November 6, 2012, one year ago today, Portland residents overwhelmingly voted to approve a new local $35 income tax to restore arts education to every elementary school in the city’s six school districts, strengthen the non-profit arts community and increase arts access citywide.
Years in the making, the Arts Education & Access Fund is the first local public fund to make targeted investments in both K12 arts education and the non-profit arts community through a voter approved income tax. And one year later, just as the revenue will begin to reach schools and arts programs citywide, there are many remarkable accomplishments to celebrate.
The Arts Education & Access Fund was built around a powerful new strategic partnership and an influential new citizen-led movement. Our success in bringing together the City of Portland, the non-profit arts community and Portland’s six public school districts to establish sustainable new funding for essential arts programs and education has become a model for arts-invested cities nationally. And the citizen-led movement that grew and mobilized to restore arts education for every Portland public school and make the arts accessible city-wide continues to inspire awe with 68 member organizations, 4,200 volunteer hours, 10,000 pledges of support, 35,000 people signed on, 7,454 Facebook Likes and 2,990 Twitter Followers.
While there is much to look forward to with 70 new Arts Tax-funded elementary arts teachers in Portland’s classrooms and the first round of investments in non-profit arts organizations and access programs still to come, the one-year anniversary offers a great opportunity to look back. And celebrate how far we have come. Congratulations Portland!
Honoring the people who made it happen!
In the days leading up to the election, the Schools & Arts Together Campaign reached a fever pitch of support and momentum. Nearly 200 volunteers canvassed tens of thousands of Portland homes, called more than 2,500 voters and bannered the Broadway, Burnside and Hawthorne bridges while more than 5,000 friends joined us on Facebook to get out the vote. When the preliminary election results were reported at 8pm on November 6th, we were not just celebrating the restoration of arts and music to Portland schools and access to art for every resident, we were reveling in the powerful impact of grassroots advocacy and the positive change that it can forge in our community.
Voter turnout on November 6, 2012 was 82% in Multnomah County with 62% of voters (more than 178,000!) voting YES for Measure 26-146 to establish the Arts Education & Access Fun. Founded in 2008 with the establishment of the Creative Advocacy Network (CAN), this movement and the Schools & Arts Together Campaign have become powerful models of advocacy and collaboration.
There were many, many reasons to give thanks last week and more than 178,000 supportive citizens of Portland, working together to bring the arts to life in every classroom and community, were at the top of the list.
In the twelve months since the passage of the Arts Education & Access Fund, CAN has been simply inundated with heartfelt thank you notes, calls and e-mails. On the one-year anniversary of this groundbreaking moment, we fondly remember the inspiring words of the arts and education leaders who helped us to establish this groundbreaking fund as well as the students, teachers, families and community members who are just beginning to feel the impact of the Arts Tax and share their thanks.
David Douglas Superintendent Don Grotting: Thank you for “making a difference in the lives of children throughout Portland.”
Earl Boyles Elementary Music Teacher Mari Schay: “I can’t even begin to describe how relieved I am to know there will be consistent funding for music in David Douglas over the next few years.
Portland State University President Wim Wiewel: “I’m proud to have had the opportunity to see this happen, after all-too-many-years.”
Wieden+Kennedy Co-Founder Dan Wieden: “So proud of this community and thankful for the vision and hard work essential to pull this off.”
Portland Youth Philharmonic Executive Director Kevin A. Lefohn: Take note Children of Portland”…this vote has “brought the arts back into your lives and into our hearts for years to come!”
Portland Elementary Music Teacher Val Barton Ellett: “From an elementary music teacher in Portland, to ALL of YOU… THANK YOU for bringing music and art back to elementary students!!”
Parkrose Superintendent Karen Fischer Gray: “This work will help children in Portland for many years to come!!”
NW Children’s Theatre & School Executive Director Judy Kafoury: “We will always be very grateful.”
Portland Public Schools Deputy Chief Financial Officer & Budget Director David Wynde: “A fantastic outcome to the election for schools and the children and families they serve. Hurrah!”
Native American Youth and Family Center Deputy Executive Director and PPS Board Member Matt Morton: “Thank you for support you’ve given to our schools and to engaging communities of color.”