In a response to the City's massive budget shortfall, Mayor Vera Katz has proposed seven percent budget cuts across the board for General Fund-supported programs. But apparently not all organizations are being treated equally: In a reversal of Robin Hood logic, Katz's budget plan will take from at least one small arts organization and give to the much wealthier ballet and opera. An email sent a few weeks ago details the Mayor's plan to remove nearly $380,000 from The Regional Arts and Council Culture (RACC), one of Portland's most vital grassroots arts organizations.

RACC is a government-funded organization whose mission is "to integrate arts and culture in all aspects of community life." Though RACC does fund Portland's larger arts organization, they have traditionally also funded Portland artists working on a smaller scale--or "undercapitalized," as Executive Director David Hudson explains. As he defines it, "expectation for undercapitalized arts, in terms of quality and quantity, are high, and yet the funding and support doesn't meet that expectation." RACC gives financial support in the form of grants to individual artists, as well as small collectives of artists.

On May 9, Katz sent an email detailing her funding proposal for the arts in the upcoming budget. In it, Katz explains that $200,000, in a fund called the "Arts Stabilization Fund," was given to RACC to spend on projects which were matched with private fundraising. However, since the money has not been matched, Katz explains, she now plans to "direct RACC to allocate the City money that it already has on hand to cover the payments to the Ballet and Opera."

Though her cuts would potentially impact dozens of small-scale artists, Katz insists in her email that her support for the arts is as strong as ever. "I am a strong advocate for the arts and the important role they play in maintaining the quality of life in our community, and feel that this will be a much better funding arrangement than is currently available to the City's arts organizations," she explains.

The decision is expected in an upcoming city council meeting, but has not yet been placed on the city council agenda.