Stuart Emmons responds

Stuart Emmons (Candidate for Portland Commissioner, Position 4) responded April 5, 2016:

1) In what specific ways have you supported arts and culture in Portland?

I go to arts and cultural events frequently – especially the Art Museum, Oregon Historical Society and art galleries

Co-chair Portland Design Festival 2004

Co-chair Portland Design Festival 2005

Portland Art Museum – Advancement Committee 2008 – 2016

Friends of Memorial Coliseum, co-chair. Responsible for helping to save the architectural masterpiece Memorial Coliseum and getting it designated a National Treasure.

PNCA Board: 2002 – 2003

OCAC – woodworking teacher: 1981 – 1982

RACC public art artist selection committees

Saturday Academy – architecture teacher

Next Generation Schools . Design Symposium, 2016 – co-chair

UO Architecture Symposium, c2004 – co-chair

Advocate for Design in Portland – including articles such as: ‘Downtown Design is in Trouble’

Oregonian, February 2000 (

Other writings:

Articles about my work:

Profession: Woodworker, Architect, Urban Designer, Community Activist


School for American Craftsmen: Rochester Institute of Technology

London College of Furniture

Pratt Institute – B. Arch.

Harvard University – Graduate School of Design – M. Arch.



(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 Portland’s proper role in supporting arts and culture in the region?

Portland City Hall is a disappointment when it comes to supporting and prioritizing the arts and culture in Portland. It can do so much more to promote art and design: by better integration of the arts in City Hall (think Kennedy and Obama White Houses on a smaller scale); Commissioners should be at far more arts events promoting art, design and craft made or performed in Portland. I also have been, and will be, a passionate advocate for the arts in schools. I get how important the arts are in education.

City Hall should be a leader in promoting arts and culture in Portland.

(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?

I have worked on affordable housing for much of my career. I have 11 action items on my website for affordable housing ( and believe the solution needs to come from a collaboration between housing developers, community members, arts leaders, city officials and artists. I will have affordable housing for artists as one project that I will focus on during my first term as commissioner. To be a great city, artists need access to affordable housing near where they work.

The loss of the Towne Storage building flagged the challenge of affordable studio space. I had affordable studio space, and before that a woodshop, in the Central Eastside, and those spaces are now redone and far more costly. Affordable studio space can be incorporated into larger new projects in negotiations that could include bonusing that I will gladly do as commissioner. I will also help artists to find affordable studio spaces in existing buildings and redevelopments, such as Milepost 5.

(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?

I know we can get more people and businesses from the Metro area supporting the arts – and City Hall can help by consistently promoting the arts and culture in Portland.

I look forward to restarting the Design Festivals in conjunction with existing Design Week and other events.

Arts and Culture leaders and artists will find an open door at City Hall if I become commissioner.

(5) The Arts Education & Access Fund, orarts 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?  

Yes, I will work to help insure that the arts tax collections are better managed so we better meet our goals. I am a firm advocate for arts education in schools and supporting arts organizations. I will also be open to other sources for arts funding.

End statement: Other candidates may say they will be ‘champions’ of the Arts, but the arts have always been an integral part of my persona from my early childhood through art schools through my craft and architecture careers. I know I will be the greatest advocate from City Hall for the Arts and Culture in Portland in decades.

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