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2% Percent for Public Art

“The ‘2% for Art’ policy for all: Require all local public agencies doing business with City government to establish a 2%-Percent-for-Art program. The City, County and the Portland Development Commission (PDC) have a ‘Percent-for-Art’ program. The Housing Authority of Portland (HAP), Portland Streetcar, Inc., and others, apparently do not. No cheating: Make sure there is compliance with the new 2%-Percent-for-Art requirement.”

- Adams, Sam (2004). “Portland: The City of nearly starving artists, and five promises that can change that.” Sam Adams for City Council campaign. Retrieved 2018-17-2.

In 1980, Portland adopted an ordinance dedicating 1% of the total city construction costs of major capital improvement projects to public art. In 1989, the Portland broadened the scope of the program and dedicated an additional .33% of the total construction costs for administration and establishing the Percent for Art Program.[i]

The program, administered by RACC, requires that a publicly funded capital construction project allocate an amount equivalent to 1.33 percent of the project cost to the selection, creation, installation and maintenance of public art, such as sculptures, foundations and street furniture is accessible to the public.[ii]

Since it invests in public art, it is one of the few ways that the city government could directly impact the public space of the city and give work and funding to local artists.

After he was elected, Adams,[iii] and RACC, asked the City Auditor to examine to well the program was or wasn't being followed by city bureaus. In August 2005, the city auditor's office released a report on their investigation.[iv] It determined wasn't enough accounting information available for the auditor to determine how much money the city bureaus should paid the Percent for Art program versus how much actually went to RACC. The numbers were simply non-existent.[v]

As Portland Arts Commissioner, in 2006, Adams tighten management requirements, raised to 2 percent and lowered the eligibility threshold from projects valued at $100,000 to those with costs of $50,000. To that date, some had been exempting, it also included a new requirement that almost all city bureaus and commissions must participate in the Program.[vi]

In 2006, Portland put the City Budget Office in charge of administering the collection of funds from the bureau for the program.[vii] A 2011 follow up audit[viii] found that the process was sound but a recommendation to increase the exchange of information between RACC and the Portland Development Commission has yet to be implemented.[ix]



[i] National Arts Administration and Policy Publications Database (NAAPPD). Retrieved 2018-17-2. [ii] Moore, Scott (January 19, 2006). “Art for Art's Sake! City Finally Patches the Holes in Public Art Program.” Portland Mercury. Retrieved 2018-17-2. [iii] Rowe, D.K. (September 2, 2005). “How time swiftly passes.” The Oregonian. [iv] A Report from the City Auditor (August 2005). "Percent for Art Program: Financial allocation process is informal, inconsistent, and may not fulfill requirements for public art." Retrieved 2018-17-2. [v] Frank, Rayn (August 19, 2005). “'Percent-for-art' might not be getting paid out.” The Oregonian. Page C2. [vi] Basalyga, Stephanie (January 27, 2006). “Padding the Pot for Public Art.” Daily Journal of Commerce. Retrieved 2018-17-2. [vii] Archives and Records Management, Auditor’s Office (February 3, 2016). "187570 Establish the City Budget Office as the City bureau responsible for managing the Percent for Art program amend PCC 5.74.030 and 5.74.090 ordinance." Retrieved 2018-17-2. [viii] Archives and Records Management, Auditor’s Office (February 2011). "Percent for Art: Progress made, but consistency can be improved." Retrieved 2018-17-2. [ix] Row, D.K. (February 18, 2011). "City audit finds that Portland's Percent for Art program could be improved." The Oregonian. Retrieved 2018-17-2.

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