(Image above: "We've Been Here," a mural in the Lizzie K. Weeks Room of the Portland Building, by Kayin Talton Davis)
The $35 Arts Education and Access Income Tax, or Arts Tax, approved by Portland voters in 2012, is due on April 18, 2023 and can be paid online.
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Read below about how the Arts Tax is spent.
Arts and culture are integral to our community and vital to Portland's identity as a center of creativity. Artists and creative workers help define our culture, fuel our economy, and enhance our quality of life. We celebrate creativity in all its forms so that communities can connect, companies can flourish, and students can succeed in school and in life.
The role of the City Arts Program is to support Portland's arts and culture ecosystem and expand opportunities for Portlanders to participate in creative experiences. Meet the team.
The City Arts team collaborates with the Commissioner of Culture and Livability, Commissioner Dan Ryan, to oversee the arts services provided by the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) and to coordinate arts-related services provided by City bureaus and other programming partners.
In the fall of 2022, the City and a coalition of local government agencies launched "Our Creative Future," a comprehensive cultural planning process to develop a new vision for arts and culture in the Portland metro region. We look forward to sharing more information and a wide variety of community engagement opportunities in the months ahead.
Our primary arts services provider is the Regional Arts & Culture Council
The Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) delivers a wide array of arts and culture services, including advocacy, grantmaking programs, and managing the City's public art program. In June of 2023, Commissioner Ryan announced that the City's contract with RACC expires on June 30, 2024, and that the City will be issuing RFPs (Requests for Proposals) for various arts-related services in the year ahead. Learn more here.
Public art and the Percent-for-Art program
Public Art contributes to experiences that enrich the social, physical and cultural environment of Portland, and promotes dialogue among people of all ages and backgrounds. By Portland City Code, two-percent of the cost of the City's qualifying infrastructure projects are dedicated for public art. Funds may be used to commission, purchase, and maintain public artworks, fund artists-in-residence programs, and/or fund creative space.
Over the last thirty years, thousands of pieces of art have been added to the City's public art collection and placed across Portland, from City buildings downtown to neighborhood installations. Today, the program places special emphasis on purchasing art from underrepresented artists and adding art in historically undeserved communities. The Regional Arts & Culture Council manages the City's public art collection.
Grants for artists and nonprofit organizations
In FY21-22, the City will invest more than $3.6 million in grants through the Regional Arts & Culture Council. Visit racc.org for a summary of grant programs and deadlines.
Arts Education and Access Fund (Arts Tax)
Funded by an annual income tax of $35 per adult, the Arts Education and Access Fund supports arts and music education in K-5 schools and grants to local nonprofit organizations.
Funds are distributed based on student population to hire arts or music teachers for kindergarten through fifth grade students at the six districts in the city: Portland Public, David Douglas, Centennial, Parkrose, Reynolds and Riverdale.
The City Arts Program allocates up to 3% of Net Revenues to help coordinate arts education services and outcomes across Portland's six school districts.
Remaining funds go to RACC to award grants to support arts access. A minimum of 5 percent of funds distributed to RACC must go toward schools and nonprofit organizations that provide high-quality arts experiences with and for underserved communities. The remaining funds provide general operating support grants to a wide range of local arts organizations.
To learn more about how Arts Tax money is spent, read this article.
Other helpful links
The Arts Empowerment Program in the City's Bureau of Development Services guides artists and arts organizations through the permit process when creating or transforming space. Art is a powerful tool for equity and we prioritize project assistance to Black, Indigenous, People of Color and persons with disabilities. By supporting artists and arts organizations, this program hopes to ensure the creation and retention of affordable and safe arts spaces in Portland.
Are you looking to paint a mural? There are two options: RACC's public art murals program provides up to $5,000 in matching funds for murals that become part of the city's public art collection, and the City's original art mural program issues permits for other murals.
Portland Parks & Recreation provides a number of other arts and culture programs, services and opportunities; visit portland.gov/parks/arts-culture for more information.