As you may have read in today’s Oregonian, CAN is just months away from announcing a ground-breaking new public funding plan for the arts and arts education in the Portland area. Unfortunately, the Oregonian’s D.K. Row broadly mischaracterized the momentum and current outlook of our movement. However, the article offers us an excellent opportunity to share some exciting updates.
In 2011, CAN has made tremendous progress towards our goals of increasing access to arts and culture for every resident, making free arts and music experiences available to every school-age child in their classrooms and communities, and strengthening our highest-quality arts and cultural organizations.
In addition, we have identified a viable funding mechanism, gained strong, clear support from leadership at both the City of Portland and Multnomah County, and tested our public funding package with very promising polling results. All of this work has been accomplished as we continue fulfilling our mission of advocating at the top of our lungs for more and better support for the arts—in our classrooms and our communities.
While we understand and share D.K. Row’s eagerness to have this new public funding stream for the arts in place, our efforts are still well within the timeline we collectively established for this work by the Act for Art Plan. As you may know, in 2008 a region-wide planning process under the leadership of Metro Councilor Carlotta Collette, Washington County Commissioner Dick Schouten, and Mayor Sam Adams, we engaged 1,500 members of our community to develop a Creative Action Plan for the Portland Metropolitan Area called Act for Art. This vision for the future of the arts and culture in our region identified the need for a new dedicated annual fund for the arts and for arts education. The Creative Advocacy Network (CAN) was established in 2008 to make this goal a reality, and we were given until 2014 to achieve success. At CAN, we believe that our efforts will allow Portland to reach our true creative and cultural potential by 2012—two years ahead of schedule.
“I truly believe that CAN will change the creative landscape for our children and our communities and could not imagine a better investment in our future,” CAN Board Chair Chris Coleman says.
As stewards of public funding, as well as the financial support of many private individuals and organizations who believe in CAN’s cause, we take our responsibility to deliver on our goals very seriously. We are more than happy to shine a light on the City of Portland’s funding of our effort because we believe it tells an impressive story. For 20 years, the City annually funded arts and culture through the Regional Arts & Culture Council, to provide millions of arts experiences, and tens of thousands of free arts and music interactions for children. In 2009 and 2011, the Portland City Council unanimously chose to direct 3 percent of these investments towards the CAN effort, which has educated thousands and will lay the groundwork to more than triple the annual impact of their on-going investments in arts and culture. We at CAN are proud to have been established under the leadership of Mayor Sam Adams, and are honored to have gained the trust of the City of Portland and Multnomah County as we steward their investments of time and money towards a future where arts and music are available in every classroom and across every community.
We were disappointed that Mayor Adams was not initially given the opportunity to comment for D.K. Row’s piece on this movement—a movement that Mayor Adams launched with such vision in 2008, as a City Commissioner, and one that he continues to be deeply involved with. Late yesterday, the story was updated to include the Mayor’s thoughts, including his comment that “In the 20 years we’ve been trying to get a dedicated source of funding for the arts … we’ve never been closer.”
With the Mayor’s continued leadership, and the strong support of people like you, we are confident that we will fulfill our mission of creating a dedicated annual fund for the arts and arts education in the near future.
“I couldn’t be prouder of CAN’s work to create a much-needed dedicated source of arts and arts education funding for Portland,” Mayor Sam Adams said. “We set ambitious goals for our arts and culture community in 2008 when we adopted the Act for Art vision, and together we are making steady progress toward fulfilling that goal.”