Action Plan Reactions

Being directly involved in, and entirely too close to, last night's town hall meeting to objectively observe the unveiling of a new "Creative Action Plan" for arts and culture, I decided not to rush home and blog about it. Rather, I'm sitting back and monitoring people's reactions with both personal and professional interest.

We have some early returns with DK Row's preview piece in Monday's Oregonian; Barry Johnson's reactions on Arts Watch; and Jeff Jahn's analysis at PORT. While we wait for more official blog posts, I'm also hoping to hear what Culture Shock readers have to say. Were any of you around for Arts Plan 2000? Does the highly political nature of the effort this time around scare you or excite you? Had we more time, would many more artists have asked what's in it for them?


Anonymous said...

I saw a dog and pony show for the rubes. I heard awareness of the regional shame we have for our meager support for the arts and lofty promises to quintuple that but little by way of plans for action beyond starting new committees. I heard politicians using the word "bonds" interchangeably with "support" as if they were the same thing. I heard no commitment to a timeline, even though on the other side of City Hall they think they can launch a pro soccer AND pro baseball franchise simultaneously by 2011. I heard the Q&A time used up by people that just like to hear their own voices on a microphone. I did not know that almost $2MM had been raided from the Cultural Trust and I am furious about this. But of course, I'm also the first to admit that I am bitter and cynical and am rarely, if ever, impressed by words when only results matter. And even if this plan fails by half, we'd still be twice as well off as we are now. So I'm eager to see what shakes out.

Anonymous said...

Artists face these kinds of panels all of the time when seeking public funds. They are told that they are "judged by a jury of their peers." The situation is far from that. The panels can barely recognize what a peer of some of these artists would look like. You can see it by where the money goes and what kind of work they reward.

culturejock said...

I think I understand these comments, truly. Clearly much of this effort has been initiated by Mayor Adams, which is to his credit in my opinion, but I also think the dedicated funding effort will be well served when it moves AWAY from governments and RACC to the new independent organization that is the Creative Advocacy Network, which will be comprised of hundreds if not thousands of members (artists and arts organizations), rather than a committee of usual suspects. I also understand there is a lot of cynicism right now, and the Mayor has plenty of chinks in his armor (as if the Breedlove scandal wasn't enough, now his own circle of supporters like Thomas Lauderdale are going ballistic against him on the Coliseum and a few other civic issues), which is another reason we're going to need a group like CAN to get this done. I concur that actions will speak louder that words, so let's see where we are in October, 2010.

As for the RACC panel process, check out Jeff Jahn's related post on PORT for more interesting discussion along these lines.

MightyToyCannon said...

I haven't weighed in on this yet, but have certainly been thinking about it. Briefly (because I may write more over the weekend), my beef with the Town Hall was that there was too much on the political strategy and not enough on the broad vision. In other words, too much about HOW we're going to get a money measure passed, and not enough of WHY it's needed and WHAT it's going to be used for. Just to be clear, I agree there is the need for it, and I even trust (pretty much) that we can come up with fair and effective ways to allocate the funds. But when this gets rolled out to the voters (i.e., outside of the arts bubble), I sure hope the discussion isn't all about the political strategy of how to word the ballot measure to maximize returns. The "Creative Action Plan" includes elements that describe the need and the priorities, but it also sets the number 1 goal as "Get Money." Instead, isn't the goal of "Get Money" the means towards the end, not the other way around?

Also, it's truly a shame that the strong arts/culture advocacy the Mayor is showing is simultaneously undermined by his rush to bulldoze the Memorial Coliseum -- sacrificing that historic part of our built culture at the altar of MLS and the Blazer's grand scheme for a playground of entertainment called "Live!" That whole affair strikes me as completely antithetical to Portland's proud history of planning and neighborhood building. I suspect that the Mayor is feeling some pressure to accomplish something and to be seen as a man of action -- fine, but at what cost ultimately. I hate to be a cynic, but I'll just bet that in ten years we'll be talking about what to do with an empty soccer stadium and an underused Triple A baseball stadium. As long as the City is able to come up with the cash for those project, how about just writing off the remaining debt on the Armory -- a project that seems to have actually added life to a neighborhood and is getting plenty of use. I encourage readers to go visit Tim DuRoche's post at his Burnside Blog:

culturejock said...

I sure hear that! The whole Coliseum episode undermines what I thought was one of the Mayor’s strengths, developing community consensus around challenging issues. To have this rushed through contrary to prevailing public sentiment is huge mistake in my opinion.

Regarding the town hall. I think part of what wasn’t made very clear on Monday night is that this really is an insider’s conversation, and the messages shared there are not the kind of messages you are going to hear as the campaign begins to go public over the next year or two. The assumption for that group on Monday was that they have developed hundreds of thousands of HOWs and WHYs over the last several years but none of it is going very far until we tackle the funding issue NOW, so let’s start with, and focus on, that piece. So the Mayor and the other electeds who are very good at this sort of thing wanted to educate the stakeholders on how this stuff gets done from a pragmatic point of view.

I think it’s fair to say that a lot of people found that “politics 101” primer pretty interesting, but they really do share your concern that we might be putting the cart before the horse. Me, on the other hand, I think we’ve been filling the cart for quite a while now, and the dedicated funding solution is our horse, and it’s high time we hitch up our cart and go somewhere! As we begin the journey, we’ll start sharing all of the inspirational ideas that are hidden in our wagon – including the very real need (but difficult to sell notion) that arts organizations simply need a more sustainable public funding base just to do the work they do. Don’t follow this metaphor too much further, though, because I don’t know how to end it.