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An Art Forum will be held in Portland, Oregon on Monday, March 5 giving arts advocates an opportunity to hear from candidates running for the Portland Mayoral seat and City Council discuss their position on the role of local government in the arts community.

The free Art Forum promises to be a lively interaction that will give supporters of the arts a chance to learn more about these candidates and how they might impact the arts in Portland should they be elected.  The Forum will be held in The Armory at 128 NW 11th Avenue, Portland beginning at 7:00 p.m. Persons who would like to attend can RSVP, and/or submit a question for the panel by email at The Art Forum is being co-sponsored by the Creative Advocacy Network, the Regional Arts & Culture Council, the Portland Art Dealers Association, the Portland Arts Alliance and Oregon ArtPAC.

How about that? Portland actually has a political action committee for the arts! Oregon ArtPAC was founded in 2006 with the goal to support candidates for local and state government positions who show a commitment to increase public funding for arts and culture programs. Founding members include former Portland Mayor Vera Katz, former Oregon City Mayor Alice Norris and Portland philanthropist Arlene Schnitzer, for whom one of Portland’s fine performance theaters is named.

The candidates for Portland Mayor participating in the panel include: Eileen Brady, a highly-successful businesswoman who has volunteered her time on numerous non-profit boards; Charlie Hales, who served as a Portland City Commissioner from 1993 to 2002 overseeing the Fire Bureau and Parks Bureau; and Jefferson Smith whose early experience in the legal profession led him to serve as an Oregon House Representative.

Also joining the panel are candidates running for Portland City Council including: Amanda Fritz, a native of England who immigrated to the U.S. in 1979 and became a nurse; Mary Nolan, a community activist and State Representative since 2001; and Steve Novick, an attorney who once fought environmental cases for the U.S. Department of Justice and now works for the Oregon Health Authority.

With so many other pressing issues garnering their attention such as the economy, affordable housing and education, it will be interesting to see what these hopefuls have to say about the sustainability of the arts in Portland. Will they bring real ideas to the table, or just give “lip service?”  In either case, kudos go to Oregon ArtPAC and their fellow arts organizations for arranging this Forum.