Arts Education & Access Fund

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Arts Education and Access Fund?

On November 6, 2012, Portland residents approved a citywide $35 income tax to restore arts education to every elementary school in the city’s six school districts and increase arts access citywide. The new Arts Education & Access Fund will provide stable, long-term funding for certified arts and music teachers and grants for arts programs, supplies and field trips. The Fund will also support non-profit arts organizations to increase access to the arts.

Why do we need this fund?

Arts education opportunities are a key part of a well-rounded education. And when it comes to arts and music in our schools Portland has fallen far behind the nation. Today in Portland there are 11,596 children attending schools that do not have any art, dance, drama, and music instruction.

In 2011 only 18% of Portland elementary schools provide art instruction compared to 83% nationally. And only 58% of Portland elementary schools provide music instruction compared to 94% nationally.

Furthermore the rate of decline for arts education in Portland has been shockingly steep. In the last five years Parkrose and Centennial School Districts have cut their arts and music teaching staff by half, while Portland Public Schools has dropped all arts instruction in 22 schools in just two years.

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 creative 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.

How does it work?

Portland residents who are 18 years or older will annually file a Arts Tax Return by April 15th, just as they file State and Federal Tax returns. Tax returns will be mailed to every resident and are available online for paperless filing and payment at www.artstax.net. Adult residents of the City of Portland who earn $1,000 in income over and above any Social Security benefits, pension benefits from the Oregon Public Employees Retirement System (PERS), pension benefits from the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS) or interest income from US Treasury bill notes and bonds and whose household income is above the federal poverty level will be eligible to pay $35. All others are exempt.

The City of Portland’s Revenue Bureau is responsible for the collection and distribution of the Arts Education & Access Fun.

How much will be raised?

The Arts Education and Access Fund is expected raise an average of $12.2 Million in net revenue annually.

How will this effect the economy?

A recently released Portland area study on the economic impact of arts and culture found that the non-profit arts community represents a $253.5 million industry in our region. Last year, residents and visitors had over 2 million arts experiences through the very same arts organizations that the Arts Education and Access Fund will support. Over 800,000 of these arts experiences were offered free of charge and there were nearly 250,000 experiences for school-aged children in their classrooms and communities. In 2011, these arts organizations supported 8,529 full-time equivalent jobs and generated $21.4 million in local and state revenue.

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). Districts will receive the funds required to hire and maintain one certified arts teacher per every 500 students.

Remaining funds will be distributed to the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) to support grant programs. Non-profit Portland arts organizations will receive general support when they 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.

And, schools and non-profits will receive program grants to improve access to the arts in Portland’s underserved classrooms and communities.

Will there be oversight of these funds?

Yes. A Citizen Oversight Committee that is representative of Portland’s diverse communities has been appointed by Portland City Council to annually review Fund expenditures and report the impact of the Arts Education and Access Fund to the public.

Resource Documents:

  • City Code Changes – Changes to the City of Portland Code made on December 19, 2012 after the passage of the Arts Education & Access Fund
  • RACC Contract – Amendment to the 2010 Contract between the City of Portland and the Regional Arts & Culture Council.
  • IGA’s with School Districts – Inter-governmental Agreements between the City of Portland and the six school districts
  • Measure #26-146 Online Voters’ Guide - The voters’ guide for for measure #26-146 from the Multnomah County Online Voters’ Guide for the November 2012 General Election.
  • Schools Arts Together Overview - An overview on the Arts Education & Access Fund, measure #26-146 on the November ballot for Portland residents.
  • Where the Money Goes - Allocation of funds based upon City of Portland’s Revenue Bureau annual net projections and 2011-2012 public school enrollment and teacher salary data.
  • Improving Access - In addition to restoring arts education to Portland schools, the Arts Education and Access Fund will increase access to the arts for every Portland resident.