Today Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge John A. Wittmayer largely dismissed the challenges to the City of Portland’s Arts Education & Access Fund ballot language, allowing the ballot measure to move forward to a citizen vote with one wording change. Replacing the word “capped” with “of”, the ballot title will now read: “Shall Portland restore arts, music for schools and fund arts through income tax of 35 dollars per year?”
Furthermore, Judge Wittmayer put questions of the legality of the proposed tax to rest by clarifying: “The proposed tax at issue here is not a head tax or a poll tax because it is not assessed per capita – it is assessed only upon income-earning individuals age 18 or older in households above the federal poverty guidelines.”
“We are thrilled to be proceeding to the ballot with a proposal that will restore arts and music teachers to Portland’s elementary schools and provide vital grants to schools and non-profits,” said Creative Advocacy Network Executive Director Jessica Jarratt Miller. “The rate of decline for arts education here has been shockingly steep. In the last five years, two of Portland’s six school districts (Parkrose and Centennial) have cut their arts and music teaching staff by half, while our largest district (Portland Public Schools) has dropped all arts instruction in 22 schools in just two years.”
The ballot language was challenged last month under a state law that allows electors to petition the circuit court for a different title by proving the original filed by the City to be insufficient, not concise or unfair. According to Oregon state law, the circuit court’s ruling is final and cannot be appealed.
“We appreciate this decision and are glad the measure can go forward so that the citizens of this city can decide for themselves. Today just two out of 10 elementary schools have an art teacher, and nearly 12,000 Portland students have no art, music, dance or drama in school stimulate economic development. National research links access to arts and music education to improved test scores, graduation rates and college admittance,” Mayor Sam Adams said. “This measure is also essential to our ability to develop a workforce equipped with the creative thinking and problem solving skills necessary to compete in a modern economy.”
With repeated polls reflecting support at above 70% for this proposal, the Creative Advocacy Network’s 501(c4) partner organization, the CAN Action Fund, will now register a political action committee called Schools & Arts Together to conduct a campaign in support of the Arts Education and Access Fund. This week Schools & Arts Together launched their website at SchoolsArtsTogether.com to rally supporters for the November ballot.
If approved by voters, the fund will restore arts and music teachers to every Portland elementary school and provide grants to schools and non-profits to fund the arts city-wide and increase access to the arts for school children and underserved communities. The Arts Education & Access Fund will raise approximately $12.6 Million annually through an income tax limited to $35 per year for adult, income-earning residents of Portland in households above the federal poverty level.
“Portland’s embarrassing lack of arts and music education in our public schools puts our kids’ future at risk. The Arts Education and Access Fund is a powerful and creative solution that will help keep students engaged in school and on track to graduate.” concludes Gwen Sullivan, President of the Portland Association of Teachers.
To read more about the current state of arts education in Portland, go to http://bit.ly/canreports. To learn more about the Schools & Arts Together Campaign, visit SchoolsArtsTogether.com or follow us on Facebook at SchoolsArtsTogether.
Jessica Jarratt Miller
Executive Director, Creative Advocacy Network
Today in Portland there are nearly 12,000 children attending schools that do not have any art, dance, drama, or music instruction. And the rate of decline for arts education here has been shockingly steep. Portland is home to six school districts and in the last five years, two of them (Parkrose and Centennial) have cut their arts and music teaching staff by half, while our largest (Portland Public Schools) has dropped all arts instruction in 22 schools in just two years.
With the Arts Education and Access Fund, the City of Portland will restore arts and music education in Portland’s six school districts by providing stable, long-term funding for certified arts and music teachers for every elementary school serving Portland residents. The fund will also provide grants to help schools and non-profits improve access to the arts and support arts organizations citywide to bring arts, culture, and creativity to life for every Portland resident.
Your support of the Schools & Arts Together campaign can make all the difference. Pledge your support at SchoolsArtsTogether.com. After years of losing ground, we can ensure our children have the future they deserve, today and tomorrow.
Donate $15 or whatever you can to help the campaign. And join us at parades, parkways, back-to-school nights, and arts events to help spread the word as a campaign volunteer.
Schools which will receive funding for arts education with full-time Certified Educators:
Learn more about Schools & Arts Together – the campaign to restore arts & music to our schools and bring arts, culture, and creativity to life in our communities – by visiting SchoolsArtsTogether.com now.
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.
Portland Falls Way Behind in Arts Education
A New National Study Highlights Our Critical Shortfalls
Last week, the US Department of Education released its first study of arts education in more than ten years. And while this study reflected what we already know – that arts education opportunities are declining nationally for those who need them most – it also showcased how far behind Portland has fallen.
The study found that across the US, 94% of elementary schools offer music instruction and 83% offer programming in visual arts. In contrast, Portland’s six public school districts, which educate over 33,000 K-5 students annually, only provide music instruction in 58% of elementary schools and visual arts instruction in a mere 18%.
And 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 PPS has dropped all arts instruction in 22 schools in just two years.
Today in Portland there are 11,596 children attending schools that do not have any art, dance, drama, and music instruction. With last week’s announcement that 110 teachers at PPS will be cut next year – that number is guaranteed to increase.
The Creative Advocacy Network has partnered with the City of Portland and Portland’s six school districts to restore arts and music education to our elementary schools. We are working to ensure that our children have the same opportunities to imagine and learn and thrive as we did.
But we can’t do it alone. Please donate $15 or more towards our efforts – today. Join us on Facebook and share this information with your friends, and follow us on Twitter.
Together, we can give our children the future they deserve.
Photo by Nina Johnson
Last night more than 400 arts, culture and creative enthusiasts packed the house at The Armory – showing our strength in numbers as we vetted five candidates for Portland Mayor and City Council.
While our favorite part of the night was undoubtedly the packed house, we are still glowing from Charlie Hales’ powerful pledge of support for CAN and our plans to increase public funding for the arts and arts education. To read more about Hales’ “unwavering advocacy” and the most memorable moments of the evening, we recommend DK Row’s coverage of the event.
Co-sponsored by Business for Culture & the Arts, the Creative Advocacy Network, Oregon ArtPAC, Portland Arts Alliance, Portland Art Dealers Association and the Regional Arts & Culture Council, the Candidates Forum on the Arts was beautifully moderated by Portland Monthly Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief Randy Gragg and featured Mayoral Candidates Charlie Hales and Eileen Brady as well as City Council Candidates Amanda Fritz, Steve Novick and Brian Sidney Parrott.
To hear from our friends at Oregon ArtPAC, Oregon Children’s Theatre, Oregon Ballet Theatre and White Bird on the vital role that arts and culture play in Portland, check out last night’s coverage on KGW Channel 8.
And finally, to watch last night’s Arts Forum in real time, please click here for the complete video generously provided by Magaurn Video Media.
Thank you all for coming out in droves to reinforce the invaluable role that arts, culture and creativity play in shaping this City that we love.
We are pleased to announce that CAN’s 2011 Annual Report is now online! Please click here to read about all of the work we have accomplished this past year thanks to our wonderful board, advisors, members, volunteers, partners, donors, and supporters. Thank you!
Tweet to Join. Tweet to Win.
You can help the Creative Advocacy Network (CAN) raise $75,000 to establish a ground-breaking new public fund for the arts in Portland. All we need is your tweet! Through the generous support of the City of Portland, CAN will receive $75,000 to fuel the movement, if we inspire 2,500 people to follow @theArtsCAN on Twitter by December 31st.*
To meet the challenge, for the next 12 days (December 8th-19th) CAN will host an online conversation and contest to inspire new followers and ignite the conversation about what makes Portland uniquely creative.
Join our #CreativelyPDX Campaign on Twitter and help us spread the word.
Anyone who follows @theArtsCAN on Twitter and tweets using #CreativelyPDX will be entered to win one of 12 amazing prizes. Win tickets to performances and exhibits at Portland Center Stage, Portland Art Museum, Oregon Symphony, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Tears of Joy Theatre, Wordstock, Portland Baroque Orchestra and PHAME Academy as well as special opportunities to tweet with the Mayor and sing along with Pink Martini’s Thomas Lauderdale. Meanwhile, CAN will keep #CreativelyPDX a trending topic with thought-provoking questions and conversations about arts, culture and creativity in Portland.
In November 2012, Portland voters will be given the opportunity to approve a ground-breaking new public fund for the arts that will restore arts and music education for every Portland elementary school student and brings arts, culture and creativity to life in every classroom and community city-wide. Follow @theArtsCAN on Twitter and join the movement to keep the arts off the endangered list.
*To learn more about CAN’s partnership agreement with the City of Portland, visit the CAN Blog at http://theartscan.org/can-talks/blog/.