For the spring 2018 primary election, RACC distributed a questionnaire to all candidates running for Portland City Council; Clackamas, Multnomah and Washington County Boards of Commissioners; and Metro Council. Each candidate was asked five questions on March 13 or 14, and given the opportunity to respond by March 30 when this story was first published. RACC will continue to publish responses from candidates even after the deadline has passed.
Here are the responses provided by Sonya Fischer, running for Clackamas County Board of Commissioners, Position 5. All responses are reprinted verbatim from what the candidates sent us.
RACC: In what specific ways have you supported arts and culture in Clackamas County?
SF: As a Clackamas County Commissioner, we closely work with the Clackamas County Arts Alliance (CCAA), providing $279,359 in general fund support. Our support of CCAA helps provide programming and services, including Juvenile Department, Tourism & Cultural Affairs, Transportation & Development, Parks, Community Solutions, Health/Housing & Human Services. These vital partnerships include Youth Arts for Change, the Artist Exhibit Program, and the Public Art Program, allowing us to keep arts and culture central to life in Clackamas County. I also advocated to restore levels of general fund support to Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC). The $100,000 allows RACC to provide key resources to Clackamas County through programs such as Work for Art, benefiting arts access, and the Right Brain Initiative, supporting arts education in many school districts, including North Clackamas.
RACC: Artists and arts organizations add measurable value to the county’s economy, our education system and healthy communities – three of Clackamas County’s key performance measures. How would YOU describe the importance of arts and culture in our community, and what should Clackamas County be doing to support this sector?
SF: The nonprofit arts and culture industry generates $14,837,677 in annual economic activity in Clackamas County, supporting 417 full-time equivalent jobs and generating $1,199,000 in local and state government revenues, according to the Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 national economic impact study. This study reaffirms the important impact of arts and culture in Clackamas County. The arts and culture industry provides jobs, supports businesses and attracts visitors. One of the reasons businesses and residents choose to live in Clackamas County is because of the rich vibrancy arts and culture add to the livability of our communities. Clackamas County must continue to support private and public partnerships that provide greater access and opportunity for economic growth. The value of arts in our community cannot be underestimated.
RACC: Many schools in Clackamas County are participating in The Right Brain Initiative, which infuses dance, music, visual art and other creative activities into science, language arts, math and other subjects. Rigorous evaluative data has demonstrated that this approach leads to better teachers and more engaged students with improved test scores. Do you support public investments in programs like these to support student learning in Clackamas County?
SF: In FY 2017-18, RACC in partnership with Clackamas County leveraged $272,906 for Clackamas County Schools. The impact of the Right Brain Initiative has helped schools in North Clackamas and Oregon Trail School Districts, increasing above average math and reading scores and improvement for English Language Learners. It is essential that we support these public investments. I am a strong advocate for preparing students through science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM). Our economic future is dependent upon a workforce that can innovate, communicate, and apply critical thinking. The arts drive our creative class that will create the pathways for our 21st century economy.
RACC: How can RACC and Clackamas County do a better job of providing arts experiences for underrepresented populations, including rural communities, people of color, people with disabilities and underserved neighborhoods?
SF: As a County Commissioner, I am committed to removing barriers to fairness in representation, opportunity, and access in Clackamas County. As a young mother of a child with severe disabilities, I understand the importance of services that provide a community safety net for our most vulnerable and underrepresented populations. Access to the arts and cultural amenities are essential to quality of life for all Clackamas County residents. RACC and Clackamas County must remain proactive in supporting, developing and promoting access to all the arts throughout the county community. From grant programs, to public art exhibits, to arts related events, Clackamas County and RACC must continue to grow its outreach so that all underrepresented and underserved communities have access to the arts.
RACC: What are some of your other priorities for Clackamas County that would be of interest to artists, arts organizations and arts educators in our community?
SF: Housing Affordability is a growing concern for artists and educators in Clackamas County. I will work with both the public and private sectors for housing policies that will allow Clackamas County residents to afford to live in the community they love. Another priority ins protecting our unique quality of life in Clackamas County. Artists and educators choose to call Clackamas County home because of the livable cities, vital rural and natural areas, quality schools, and economic opportunities. It is vital that we create more economic opportunities so that good-paying jobs are available to everyone in every part of the county.