Commissioner Jules Bailey (Candidate for Mayor) responded on April 6, 2016:
(1) In what specific ways have you supported arts and culture in Portland?
I grew up acting and writing plays with Young Actors Forum, I took lessons at Echo Theater, and I played violin with Metropolitan Youth Symphony. Arts in many ways made me who I am. That’s why I still play music. My wife and I have a season pass to PCS, and we frequently go to other shows and installations. My personal story is in some ways a microcosm of what the arts mean to this region. Arts and culture give voice to community, and tell our collective stories. They are not a “nice to have,” they are integral to who we are. As a State Representative, I spearheaded the renewal of the Cultural Trust tax credit and the expansion of the film and video incentive. As Multnomah County Commissioner, I nearly doubled the County contribution to RACC. As Mayor, I will continue to be a champion for the arts.
(2) Artists and arts organizations add measurable value to our region’s economy, our education system and our quality of life, and yet there are a number of pressing needs in our community that often compete for attention and investment. What is the Mayor’s proper role in supporting arts and culture in the region?
As Mayor, I will make arts and culture front and center in my administration. I will have an arts liaison on my Mayoral staff to provide advice to and interface with the arts and culture community. I will also promote and make better use of the Creative Laureate position. If talented artists are going to give their time to the position, we should get the most out of it, and make sure that person has the ability to truly be an arts and culture ambassador for Portland.
We must create more opportunity by ensuring arts and culture are part of how underserved communities are able to express themselves. The creative economy can’t thrive if artists and entrepreneurs only look like the majority population. We can grow a creative Portland based on inclusiveness, not just privilege. The biggest barrier to this vision is ensuring that arts organizations that are of and serve specific populations get the support they need. Too often, donors and funding flow to organizations that are more mainstream. The City should view the arts as a fundamental part of service provision, and incorporate arts programs and arts equity in the planning for how we serve our community.
(3) The region’s affordability is a serious concern for all of us, including artists and arts-related businesses. What are your plans for making housing and creative spaces more affordable?
Affordability is a crisis in Portland. My wife and I were priced out of our neighborhood last year, despite having two good incomes. For artists building their careers and following their dreams, finding affordable housing and creative space can seem impossible. Quite simply, we need more housing. That means smart infill, like bringing duplexes, triplexes, and garden apartments back to neighborhood streets. It also means streamlined and fast-track permitting, and reduced fees, for housing that meets affordability standards. I’ve proposed just such a process for Portland. But we also need to preserve many of the creative spaces we have. We’re not building new “Yale Unions” or “Milagro Theaters” – we need to keep the current spaces working for artists.
(4) Are there other unmet needs when it comes to shaping Portland’s arts and culture policy for the future? If so, what steps would you take to help ensure those needs are met, and how should they be funded?
There’s not enough connection between the City of Portland and our arts and culture community. It’s very hard to understand a community when you don’t have a direct line of communication.
We should restore the position of Mayor’s Arts & Culture Director to help ensure arts are supported in our city. This job would be a key advisor to the Mayor’s office, and be a vital liaison to the arts community in Portland.
The best way for the Mayor to know and understand the needs and issues for arts and culture in Portland is to have someone whose job it is to engage in direct communications. Arts and culture are a major reason why our city is livable, and they are an important contribution to our local economy, and should have a direct line to the Mayor’s office.
(5) The Arts Education & Access Fund, or arts tax, has delivered on its promise of providing arts specialists for all K-5 schools in Portland, but the fund hasn’t generated enough revenue to support as many grants for arts and culture organizations as envisioned. If elected, would you take any steps to modify the arts tax, improve administration of it, and/or fulfill the voters’ vision of supporting arts education and access through other means?
I support the Arts Education and Access Fund, and I will commit to maintaining it. However, we need to do a better job of collection and enforcement to ensure voters are getting what they voted for. In the meantime, the City should look at backfilling lost revenue.