Preparing for the city’s new Arts Education & Access Fund



Passed into law by a vote of the people in November 2012, the Arts Education & Access Fund is a new $35 City of Portland income tax that will restore arts education to every Portland elementary school and fund arts education and access programs citywide. Collections begin next month, and the city, along with RACC and the city’s six school districts, have begun making preparations to ensure that the funds are properly invested and accounted for.

As a service to our constituents, RACC has assembled a summary of frequently asked questions and a variety of resources; visit In the meantime, here are some of the most common questions – and answers.

Q: How much money will be generated and when?

A:The Arts Education & Access Income Tax will generate $8.9 million in 2013 and $12.2 million annually by its second full year in 2014. These are net figures after the cost of collections, which are capped by law.

Q: Who pays and how much?

A: Income-earning adult residents of the City of Portland above the federal poverty line will pay $35 per year. The tax is effective beginning with the 2012 tax year. Individuals will file a tax return at the same time that federal and state taxes are due. The first payment – by mail or online – is due in April 2013.

Q: How will the money be spent? What percentage goes to schools and what goes to arts organizations?

A: More than half of the fund (56%) goes to school districts in Portland to hire art and music teachers in grades K-5 at a rate of 1 teacher for every 500 students. 3% of the fund goes to RACC for arts education oversight. The remainder (41%) goes to RACC to invest in nonprofit organizations and schools that are increasing arts education and access in the City of Portland.

Q: Where and how will RACC grow as a result of this new Fund?

A: RACC will hire one additional grants professional to assist in administering a new grants program that is designed to increase access for Portland’s underserved communities, and to assist with increased reporting requirements and data collection from funded arts organizations. The new law also provides direct funding (up to 3% of the fund) for RACC to hire 2-3 arts education professionals to serve as liaisons between RACC and the school districts, and to ensure that schools have the tools they need to implement a comprehensive, articulated arts curriculum in grades K-12. The structuring of RACC’s expanded arts education department will depend heavily on the school districts’ input and needs, which are still being determined.

Q: How and when can arts organizations apply for these new funds?

A: Organizations that currently receive General Operating Support from RACC will automatically receive some proceeds as they become available in the fall of 2013, subject to RACC’s regular evaluation process and reporting requirements. (Please note that collections for the first year (FY13-14) are expected to be lower than future years, and no organization is guaranteed funding, especially in the first year.) RACC’s annual Project Grant applications will be slightly modified and published in the fall of 2013 to incorporate new criteria for projects that meet the goals of the Arts Education & Access Fund. RACC expects new grant guidelines to be in place for all FY15 grant programs and beyond by the spring of 2014.

Q: Who ensures that the goals of the Arts Education & Access Fund are being met?

A: RACC and the school districts will be supervised by a new, independent Citizen Oversight Committee. The oversight committee is charged with reviewing the expenditures, progress and outcomes of the Arts Education & Access Fund and reporting their findings in a public record to the City Council on an annual basis. The committee is composed of 20 representatives from the community, and they are listed at

* * *
For more information about the Arts Education & Access Fund, including links to intergovernmental agreements and other legal documents,

RACC Staff to Contact

Jeff Hawthorne
Director of Community Engagement