Sam Adams asks, What will it take to unlock Portland’s full creative capacity?

Sam wants your ideas.

Portland Arts & Culture Townhall – RSVP at

Tuesday, June 12, 2007 – 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm
The Gerding Theater at the Armory – 128 NW 11th at Davis

From CommissionerSam.comCreativity helps make Portland a better place to live, a stronger competitor in the global marketplace and an incubator of innovation.

An individual artist in a studio, a software firm start-up, a theatre company, a research and development arm, a manufacturing company—Creative Capacity is the ability of these endeavors ability to be more innovative, more creative and more successful.

Strengthening this capacity to innovate has tremendous potential to contribute more to our community economically, socially and educationally. In the past few years, some have even argued this capacity is fundamental to our success in a globalized marketplace.

What do you think?

(The last link sends you to a short speech by Ken Robinson at TED in 2006. Other interesting TED talkers include Malcolm Gladwell, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, Kevin Kelly, Nicholas Negroponte and two dozen others.)

Artists are made and artists are born. For those born to the task there is little a city can do to dissuade them from their fate. They will find a niche, protection, sanctuary, or Artists born are resistant to advisement typically because experience teaches how truly useful and not poisonous this stuff is.

If you want to hatch artists, you need to look at the life-changing decisions facing young artists at Da Vinci School. How many times must they assert “yes – I want a career in the arts” and manage the smirks, the advice, the “oh you’ll never make it” comments from a thousand thoughtless sources before they give up and seek an easier way?

You know who’s against the arts? Coffee shop managers who need baristas to open at 7 AM, office managers who hire eccentric file clerks, parents, high school counselors, bill collectors, neighborhood associations, the Portland police, people who suggest we start a committee, distractions and recruiters of all sorts.

If you want to convince creatives to move to Portland, aside from the high high cost of housing, there is little which can be done – which a city government can do. Municipal grants tend to find a low common point. Artists create their own collectives to serve their own immediate needs. We have festivals galore – Wordstock, PIFF, PUFF, Time-Based Arts Festival, PDX POP Now!, etc. I suppose winning Clear Channel helps somehow…

Bottom line: Creatives can take care of themselves.

What the city can do is hatch arts audiences – people who believe, attend, and most importantly purchase and contribute to the arts. Valuing the arts can be taught at any age, in any demographic sector and RACC is a good start. But only a start.

Portland can do better at building audience for the arts.