Quick Arts Funding Report

I just got back to the office after sitting with a packed house of arts advocates who gathered at City Hall to listen to the Regional Arts and Culture Council present its "2008 State of the Arts" report to the mayor and three commissioners (Dan Saltzman was missing). I don't have the time or the notes to report in detail, other than one tidbit of interesting news:

At the end of the presentation and public testimony, Commissioner Nick Fish spoke eloquently in support of the arts. He went on to ask the audience to support the Oregon Cultural Trust by continuing to fight, rather than passively accepting the taking of $1.8 million in funds generated by the license plate surcharge. (Of course, Nick Fish is passionate about this issue because he's a member of the Cultural Trust board). He then told the crowd that he was considering resigning from the Cultural Trust board in protest against the Legislature's action, and hinted that other board members were considering doing the same. He pressed the audience to write to Governor Kulongoski to urge him to not sweep the $1.8 million into the general fund. I'm not sure what the mechanism for that would be. I don't think he can veto one portion of the bill, but maybe?

I'm sure there will be lots more on this topic here and elsewhere shortly.

p.s. The RACC folks and public testifiers all did a nice job.


culturejock said...

Thank you, MTC. I do believe Com. Fish's passionate comments prompted the biggest applause of the afternoon.

James Mayer does a fine job of reporting on the report -- and much of the subsequent testimony -- at oregonlive.com.


I do think the report went fairly well, and the turnout was amazing (!!!), but I would like to hear from people about what DIDN'T work or what could have been done better so that RACC and the arts community can keep refining and improving themselves as this budget battle continues.

MightyToyCannon said...

The report from James Mayer on OregonLive is an accurate depiction of how it all went down. He didn't mention that each of the Commissioners began his or comments with a dour reminder of just how bad the budget is going to be. Randy Leonard was particularly somber about it all. When I say "somber," I mean funereal.

My favorite bit of testimony came from Fred Williams, the Portland firefighter who talked about the value of public art at fire stations. (Leonard later agreed with that sentiment, but with the warning that one of those stations will probably have to be closed due to budget cuts. David Wynde from US Bank had the crowd chuckling with self-deprecating jokes about bankers needing to be more creative than ever in these economic times. Greg Netzer from Wordstock gave a concrete example of how RACC helped that organization at a time of financial emergency. Bruce Livingston, from Playwrite, was great, but that's because he's a great guy.

Chris Coleman's testimony was an eloquent--nearly poetic--reading that the audience ate up. On the way out, I commented to a colleague how much more I enjoyed hearing the statement recited out loud compared to reading it. He asked, "When did you read it?"

I explained that it was the Creative Advocacy Network's Canifesto (sic) which is posted on CAN's website, and which I presume was crafted in collaboration with the PR folks at North. His response was, "Gee, now I'm disillusioned. I thought Chris wrote it."

Improvements? I understand the soccer advocates all had scarves. Maybe the arts advocates need something like that -- a special beanie? A lace hanky?