Today I joined a bunch of other creative types in a coffee shop for a conversation about the arts in Portland with our Mayor, Sam Adams. The event was organized by Adrienne Fritze of Working Artists Network.
I wondered what, if anything, would be said by anyone about circumstances that have "embattled" the Mayor. Answer ....Nothing. Not a word. I imagine that is the best approach...although the old PR person inside of me wishes the Mayor would actually do what Willamette Week suggests and sign the recall petition himself. Seriously, Sam, call a press conference and sign it! --Everyone would respect that and there is a strong likelihood that you'd survive it. Let the people decide!
Well, back to what Sam Adams talked about today. Did you know that the Mayor and CAN kept the arts budget intact in Portland? I haven't paid very much attention to how our local politics figure into the arts. As an artist I have become fairly accustomed to feeling a little "embattled" myself. Why do we keep making art when the economy is bad...and who is there to help us? I heard a figure the other day that 1/3 of the art galleries in Portland have closed. Depressing! The Mayor explained what types of things we can do and how we should get involved and become advocates for what Portland needs.
Sam Adams is a good speaker and he comes across as authentically interested in Portland's arts community. Have we had other Mayors who cared?....Our luck! Here is a charming smart experienced Mayor who cares about us.....but there is that uncertainty about his future. In that way he is so much like everyone in his audience today. None of us feel we can forecast our future very well. As artists we just "keep on keeping on".... pretty much like what he is doing.
To become involved in arts advocacy read about CAN (we must improve public funding), support RACC, continue to help fellow artists, and always encourage young people. I do see the value in all of that.