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Portland – Today, City Council referred the Creative Advocacy Network’s (CAN) plan to the November ballot. 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.
“We must ensure that every student has access to music and the arts,” Mayor Sam Adams said. “And that the riches of Portland’s creative community are available to all of our citizens, regardless of income or neighborhood.”
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. They are at the center of who we are.
“I have always believed that sports and the arts play a similar role in the fabric of our community,” said Mike Golub, Chief Operating Officer of the Portland Timbers, who also serves on the Board of the Regional Arts & Culture Council. “They bring people together, they mitigate differences and they create shared experiences for disparate groups of people regardless of age, socioeconomic background, gender or ethnicity.”
The Arts Education and Access Fund is a capped income tax limited to $35 for every income earning resident 18 years of age and older living in households above the federal poverty guidelines.
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).
As Val Ellett, a teacher at Gilbert Park Elementary pointed out in today’s testimony to City Council, “Music and the arts are the most powerful force a community can invest in.”
Funds will also be distributed to the Regional Arts & 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 that will improve access to the arts for K-12 students and for Portland residents in every community. These grants would provide opportunities for students to access the arts such as trips to a museum to learn about history and other cultures or to see a play geared to their age group. Every Portlander would have improved access to free arts events to enjoy with their families regardless of community or income.
Administrative costs associated with this Fund have been capped to ensure that 95% or more of the dollars collected will be invested directly in arts education and arts programs.
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.
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 – the Arts Education and Access Fund – which was approved by Portland City Council for the ballot in Portland in November of 2012.