There has never been a better time to speak up for the arts, on Capitol Hill and closer to home. Oregon’s Advocacy Day in Salem is just weeks away and arts education and access advocacy at Portland City Hall has never been more critical. Below you will learn how you can make a difference at the local, state and national level. Be Heard. We need your voice now more than ever.
Guiding the future of the Arts Education & Access Fund
Advocacy at Portland City Hall
After years of advocating for the establishment of a sustainable new public fund for the arts, in June 2012 Portland City Council unanimously voted to refer Measure 26-146 to the ballot. The proposed new city ordinance was designed to restore arts teachers to every Portland elementary school and increase access to the arts citywide – but only if approved by Portland voters.
“A good example of democracy in action”, Commissioner Fritz said recently of the referral. “Council could have passed this tax without sending it to the voters – we chose to send it to the voters, and it was affirmed by a large majority.” Further, she remarked, “It was referred as an ordinance rather than a charter amendment (so that) the council now has the authority to fix parts of it.”
Indeed the City of Portland did approve the Arts Education & Access Fund by 62% in the November 2012 election, but this vote does not end Portland City Council’s role in guiding and governing the groundbreaking new fund. In fact, Portland City Council may just be getting started.
Last week, Portland City Council voted unanimously to make its first change to the original ordinance – the establishment of an income threshold for income earning adult dependents of households above the poverty level – and promised to consider more proposed changes in July. During the City Council discussion of this proposed change on March 27, 2013, Mayor Hales asked the Revenue Bureau to present additional recommendations for improvements to the Arts Education & Access Fund for City Council consideration in July.
“The people of the city of Portland have spoken. We support the arts and we support an excellent public education for all of our kids,” remarked Mayor Hales. “That is the voters’ intent behind the overwhelming approval mentioned here this morning of this measure. As Commissioner Fritz pointed out, it was done by ordinance, so that the duly elected legislative body of the city of Portland can translate that intent into good public policy and competent administration. That is our job. That is what we are setting about to do here with the first ordinance to make one common sense adjustment in how this tax works in people’s lives, and then to ask our staff to come back in fairly short order working with each of us with options for how we, again, honor that intent, but make it work effectively and fairly and legally as an ongoing program of the city of Portland and for this community.”
As Commissioner Fish summed it up, “We are in effect strengthening the law of this package (through) actions we’re taking over stages, and I think it is prudent to do so…. I was proud to refer this to the voters and pleased that the voters overwhelmingly adopted it.”
We at the Creative Advocacy Network are incredibly honored to have been a part of the citizen-led movement that led to the creation and passage of the Arts Education & Access Fund. And as passionate advocates for the arts and arts education in Portland, we are working to ensure that Portland City Council continues to hear from Portland residents who are proud to have voted yes, to have paid their $35 and above all, who value these new investments in arts education and citywide access. As Portland City Council continues to guide and govern the Arts Education & Access Fund, we must continue to advocate, at the top of our lungs, for the fullfillment of the promise of arts education and access for all.
Get involved. Stay informed. Pay your Arts Tax. Together we will bring the arts to life in every Portland classroom and community.
National Advocacy Day Call to Action
An Open Letter to our United States Senators and Congressional Representatives:
Today, Tuesday, April 9 is the 2013 National Arts Advocacy Day. While we are not able to be in Washington, DC in person, we write to let you know of our support for the Arts and Culture in America.
Specifically: We support funding the National Endowment for the Arts at $155 million dollars. The NEA is a valuable federal program that has awarded more than 2,200 grants for 2012 reaching every congressional district, totaling more than $108 million in funds in FY 2012.
We support funding the Arts in Education program at the Department of Education at $30 million and retaining the Arts in Education program as a distinct grant competition in FY 2014 appropriations. We also urge you to retain the arts in the definition of core academic subjects of learning and strengthen equitable access to arts learning.
We support preserving incentives for charitable giving by protecting the charitable tax deduction from rate caps or other new limitations; we urge you to reject any attempts to divide the charitable sector which would create a hierarchy of tax deductibility favoring certain types of charities over others; and, finally, we urge you to extend the IRA Charitable Rollover.
We encourage you to join the House Arts Caucus by contacting Tess Troha-Thompson in the office of Congresswoman Louise Slaughter at (202) 225-3615 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or Sarah Armstrong in the office of Congressman Leonard Lance at (202) 225-5361 or email@example.com.
Lastly, we would ask that you to join the new House STEAM Caucus. Through STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), the arts connect engineering and math. For more information, please contact Carly Katz in the office of Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici at 202-225-0855 or Carly.Katz@mail.house.gov or Kelli Ripp in the office of Congressman Aaron Schock at 202-225-6201 or Kelli.Ripp@mail.house.gov.
The nonprofit arts are a $135.2 billion a year industry employing over 4.1 million people and contributing over $9.5 billion a year in federal tax revenue. In other words, the arts mean business and because most arts non profits are actually small businesses, they mean job creation.
Thank you for your consideration and your support of the arts and culture in America.
E-mail your United States Senator and Congressional Representatives today!