What is the Arts Education and Access Fund?
If approved by voters, the Arts Education and Access Fund will restore arts and music education to every Portland elementary school and improve access to the arts in every classroom and community.
How does it work?
Funding comes from a capped income tax on Portland residents 18 years of age and older, limited to $35 per person/per year; subject to citizen oversight and independent audits.
Why do we need this fund?
Portland schools have fallen well behind the national average with only 18% of our elementary schools offering art instruction (compared to 83% nationally) and 58% of our elementary schools offering music (compared to 94% nationally). And, as of 2010, 44% of Portland’s high school students did not graduate with their class.
Research links access to arts and music education to improved test scores, increased graduation rates and college admittance. The numbers are even more dramatic for low-income students and students of color.
And employers point to arts education for developing a workforce equipped with the creative thinking and problem solving skills necessary to compete in a modern economy.
Businesses also rely on a vibrant community to build a competitive workforce. The arts enliven our city. They shape our neighborhoods, expand our educational opportunities, fuel our economy, open our minds, and spark our creativity.
What about those who can’t afford it?
Individuals in households at or below the federal poverty guidelines established by the federal Department of Health and Human Services will not pay.
How will the money be collected?
Individuals will file a tax return at the same time that federal and state taxes are due. The first payment – by mail or online – will be due in 2013. The Revenue Bureau of the City of Portland will oversee and process collections.
How will the money be dispersed?
Funds will go to all schools that serve Portland students within the six Portland school districts (Centennial, David Douglas, Parkrose, Portland Public, Reynolds, and Riverdale) to pay for certified arts or music education teachers for Kindergarten through 5th grade (K-5).
Remaining funds will be distributed to the Regional Arts and Culture Council (RACC) to support grant applications by non-profit Portland arts organizations that demonstrate artistic excellence, provide service to the community, show administrative and fiscal competence and provide a wide range of high quality arts programs to the public.
RACC will also provide grants to schools and non-profits to improve access to the arts in every classroom and community.
Will there be oversight of these funds?
An Independent Citizen Oversight committee that is representative of the City’s diverse communities will also be formed to annually review Fund expenditures and report the impact of the Arts Education and Access Fund to the public.
What is RACC?
RACC provides grants for schools, nonprofit organizations and artists; manages an internationally acclaimed public art program; raises money and awareness for the arts through workplace giving; convenes forums, networking events and other community gatherings; provides workshops and other forms of technical assistance for artists and organizations; and oversees a program to integrate arts and culture into the standard curriculum in public schools throughout the region through “The Right Brain Initiative.”
What is CAN and the CAN Action Fund?
The Creative Advocacy Network (CAN) and the CAN Action Fund are working to restore arts education to our schools and improve access to the arts in Portland. Through research of best practices, in public outreach, and with input from educators, business leaders, elected officials, arts leaders, and the public, a plan has been developed to put the Arts Education and Access Fund on the ballot in Portland in November of 2012.