Hi-what's the Right Brain Initiative? I see it's also budgeted for $200,000. The Roosevelt Athletic Complex seems pretty self explanatory.
Honestly I would fully support it if it were for sending the Metropolitan Youth Symphony or Portland Youth Philharmonic.

But spending that kind of public money on professional musicians seems, quite frankly, like waste, fraud and abuse.
Bronch: if that's truly your opinion, then the City should cut all arts and culture funding streams immediately, including its annual dedicated funding to RACC (which supports thousands of professional artists/musicians/creatives/arts organizations annually) in addition to these one-time special project requests. To suggest that public money not be spent on professional artists misses the whole point of Portland, Oregon.
Professional artists still exist?
I think the question is: Whose conception of Portland, Oregon?

Blood in the bike lanes. Yadda yadda yadda.
I remember having to sell candy bars just to play PIL sports.

Maybe Sam can have a Sticky buns, Cream pie and Brownie Sale at pity hall in hopes the creative class will support it.
I notice the Oregon Food Bank earned a $65,000 line item add. Has anyone looked at the City of PDX's priorities and figured out the exact percentages of the budget that go towards arts vs, say, something like food, energy assistance, you know, basic human needs?
"To suggest that public money not be spent on professional artists misses the whole point of Portland, Oregon"

The whole point of Portland, Oregon is to spend money on professional artists? There was a time no too long ago that the point of Portland was to administer the logging and wood products industry. Now the point is to support local artists so that smug progressives can pat themselves on the back?

I'd rather have streets repaired good schools, and a functional police force, myself.

But maybe this is "economic development", insofar as Carnegie Hall is in New York, and in the absence of well-paying jobs, the only thing maintaining our life support is the continued influx of New Yorkers to throw their money around for a few years before it runs out and the reality of Portland sets in. We're like a migration Ponzi scheme.
We can pay for that fucking garish neon rose at Waterfront Park, but we can't send the symphony to serve as ambassadors of our city to the most prestigious concert hall in the nation?
10's like a real life Mr. Holland's Opus in here. Let's cut the arts out of the school while we're at it. I'd rather spend the money on functional math and science programs rather than create well rounded students.
@pork chop: Apparently, an initiative that "seeks to integrate the arts into the standard curriculum for every K-8 student in Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington Counties".

Sending these music dudes to Carnegie is only half the cost of a recall election and more than twice as worthwhile.
Spending our money on arts so that people in Portland, and visitors to Portland, can enjoy them makes sense.

Spending our money on arts so that people in New York can enjoy them makes f all sense.
Hooray for librarianjess and tk and BlackedOut for providing perspective here.

Also, it's interesting that Mr. Cornett jabs as he does, writing "I hope Mr. Beaudoin didn't trip over a homeless person or camp as he was trying to get to you with his rant, which far too easily could have happened in the reality of the Portland that I live in."

I guess he missed the "Beggar's Opera" music-theatre production I wrote and directed with Opera Theater Oregon last fall, which addressed many of the social justice issues Cornett and so many others care about (it was featured in a multi-page story in Street Roots, a publication I'm sure Mr. Cornett is familiar with). And guess what - the "Beggar's Opera" production was partly paid for with public funds.
"We're like a migration Ponzi scheme."

Comment of the Week?
An invite to play at Carnegie Hall sure sounds like a prestigious thing. But it seems odd that they're going to charge us in/out fees to play there? That makes it sound like less of an honor and more like subletting. And it isn't just a spotlight on Portland - there were a lot of other cities on that list, which diminishes any halo effect for us.

If this felt like our symphony was going to the "national championships," or whatever, I'd totally be behind them. But it's just a very expensive music festival that we've been invited to help fund...
Yeah, I really liked the "migration ponzi scheme" idea, too!
When my high school jazz band was invited to a festival we had to sell beef jerky to pay for the trip.

Just saying.
@Reymont: The Orchestra needs the money NOT to pay "fees" to Carnegie Hall, they are presented by Carnegie Hall and they do not rent the Hall and that's a big deal for any music ensemble! The expenses that need to be covered are transportation and lodging for 77 musicians (That's a lot of beef jerky to sell Vawter, is a 77 musician professional orchestra the same as a jazz highschool band the same as operating expense needs in your simpleton reasoning?)
The Oregon Symphony is crucial to the quality of life of the City of Portland and as such it should be supported in its endeavors by the city!
Thank you Steve for speaking up for the rest of us, who admire the Symphony and support it. We ARE the creative class, we pay taxes as well and we expect our leaders to lead and not pander to the lowest common denominator for votes. The City should take care of all the "basic" services, but also take care of its cultural assets.
Hey, this Dan Saltzman who now thinks the Oregon Symphony (this area's oldest, largest, most visible and best arts organization) should go to Carnegie Hall over his dead body because they had the nerve to ask for $200,000 of the city's help? Is this the same Dan Saltzman who voted just a couple of weeks ago to spend $20 MILLION of the city's money on new bike lanes?
It is fine for the city to support the arts here, but I don't get why on earth we are subsidizing the arts in of all places NYC. I am pretty sure they already have a symphony...
I also want to very genuinely salute Jesse Cornett for chatting with me just now via Facebook messenger, and to suggest that we meet to further discuss our differences and ideas. I appreciate his accessibility and willingness to talk.
The City and its staff serve as our ambassadors in similar venues globally, and this is no different. If we had the opportunity for a contingent of our elected officials and/or business community to attend an event at the White House, it would probably seem like a very rational investment in order to have Portland represented. Carnegie Hall is the White House of the arts world, and I think it speaks to our values as a community to have our own group present at such a prestigious event. It is the investment itself that demonstrates our commitment to the being one of the cultural hubs of the arts world, which leads to further interest and investment in Portland's future.
@PanosF - Actually, I didn't just make that up. The fees we would be paying to Carnegie Hall are explained right in the article. Elaine Caulder, the president of the symphony, explains that NYC is charging us to play in their festival and to present our video of Portland.

And January had a valid point, your parenthetical sarcasm notwithstanding.
@Zach H - Very eloquently put! But I don't think most people object to the basic idea of sending the symphony to Carnegie Hall, or with the benefits that you lay out - the problem is just with the high cost.

If it cost our politicians $200,000 to visit the White House in your example, I'd suggest that was also.....well, I won't say 'poor investment,' I'll just say 'not the BEST available option' to spend the money on.

Does that make any more sense? It's the high cost of those benefits you laid out, compared to the other things the city needs.
Did Stephen just refute Jesse's populist statement by saying, "I know about the homeless...I opera!"

Because I think he did. And that is why I love Stephen Marc Beaudoin.
"The Oregon Symphony is crucial to the quality of life of the City of Portland"

Umm, no it isn't.
I'm surprised at the tenor of the comments here. General fund expenditures are never made in a vacuum--any expenditure has to be justified relative to all the other good things that could be done with the money.

This is not an issue of supporting the arts or not--the question is whether in this budgetary climate, when the Mayor has announced that that the City faces a fiscal crisis--that this particular expenditure, which is a relatively high proportion of the total deficit, can be justified.

A 20 minute video about Portland is pretty weak justification--I see no evidence that Portland is particularly unknown in New York. Anyone read the Times travel page lately? They profile our city constantly.

Everyone is tightening belts. The appropriate question is whether at this time, this is a wise use of dollars, when other city services are going wanting. And sorry about the beef jerky, but as a parent who has to constantly hawk good to friends and neighbors just to pay for school supplies in the classroom (arts funding was yanked long ago from the PPS), I need to hear a lot more about how much work these 77 professional musicians did to self-fund this trip.
As a musical gad-about myself, my first reaction is to say 'give the symphony whatever they want!' However, I can see how this could be viewed as an extravagance given the current state of the budget. For those whose pragmatism might outweigh their love of the arts (and I'm not trying to criticize those people), you might think of it as an investment in Portland's future as a tourist attraction.

There many, many people for whom a high-quality symphony orchestra (like the Oregon Symphony) is a major draw. For OSO to be able to play Carnegie Hall is indeed a high honor, and one need only consider the exposure and potential future benefits of attracting the (probably by-and-large well-heeled) tourists for whom this would be a major attraction to see that it could very well pay dividends in a real sense.

Would the hotel taxes and boon to local businesses from such an outlay equal a penny-for-penny repayment of the 200 grand (or whatever portion of that the OSO receives, if any) over x amount of time? Probably not, but I don't think that's necessarily the right way to view it. Anything that boosts Portland's prestige and drawing power will benefit our beautiful city in more ways than just economically. I think that alone merits serious consideration of the OSO's request, Saltzman's histrionic populism notwithstanding.
@Reymont: It's a small point in the overall discussion, but to set the record straight, the Spring for Music festival, which invited us to perform at Carnegie Hall next year, is paying for the hall itself. The move-in and move-out costs President Elaine Calder referred to are essentially the labor costs for the hall's stagehands, which Carnegie Hall passes on to its performers (just as the Schnitz does when we perform there). Bottom line, though: there's no cheap way of moving an entire large symphony orchestra from Portland to New York and back.

Is it worth the effort and expense for us to represent Portland in music's highest-visibility venue, where the eyes of the major players in the national media will be watching us for the first time ever? We think so. We hope Portland thinks so too.

You can read more about how and why we were chosen for this prestigious gig on our web site here:…

Carl Herko
VP, Media & Public Relations
Oregon Symphony
Good to see you mixing it up in here, Carl.
""the intern" Vawter has come up with a solution to the problem of closing a fire station while paying for the symphony: We'll send some violinists to play the Adagio for Strings while your house burns down""
This comment is immature and shows the level of discourse in this publication...There's really no point in even arguing after such a sophomoric analogy (yes, I realize you will have to look sophomoric up, but that's ok)

Yeah. Those sophomoric firefighters and their sophomoric fires. Those sophomoric police, beating those sophomoric mentally ill people to sophomoric death because there's inadequate funding for sophomoric mental health services. Sophomoric.
Are there tough budget choices to be made in the current economic climate? Absolutely, but framing one's argument as a simple either/or choice between the Symphony and firefighters is a false dichotomy and more than a little disingenuous - and, dare I say it, sophomoric.

Sending the Symphony to Carnegie Hall isn't about increasing tourism. The prestige will give the organization something to trade upon at home, creating a compelling reason for more Portlanders to purchase tickets and donate, which will in turn reap benefits right here in town. The Oregon Symphony is our city's largest performing arts organization, and if it's strong, it bolsters the local arts community as a whole.

But if you don't think the arts are all that important in the first place, I don't suppose that will really sway you. So please commence flaming.
Dammit, Matt - now I have to look 'sophomoric' up seven more times!
@PanosF: Methinks you hit a nerve. Apparently the Mercury doesn't like being thought of as, you know, sophomoric.

Here's an idea: The city can save its $200,000, and when Carnegie Hall is dark the night the Oregon Symphony was supposed to perform, all the NY media types who write all those valuable stories about what a great and progressive city this is can write instead about how Portland is the only city that didn't think it was worth a $200,000 investment to put its largest cultural asset into the national spotlight! Yeah, that'll help!
Carl, don't waste your time here. These sophomoric commenters just want to make their sophomoric little remarks and then go ride their trolley cars and toy bicycles.
For the record, Boston Symphony Hall is the most prestigious concert venue in our country.

Next week I'll be chairing a session at the 159th Meeting of the Acoustical Society of America, in Baltimore, to explain why.

Paying my own way too. If you are interested, please join me there.
'Did Stephen just refute Jesse's populist statement by saying, "I know about the homeless...I opera!"'

Pretty hilarious. He also said:

'I guess he missed the "Beggar's Opera" music-theatre production I wrote and directed'

We all managed to miss that Stephen.

@Jim Lee: Yes, right, of course it is. Because Boston is the center of the American cultural universe. And because everybody cares about what the Boston media think. And, of course, there's the famous old joke that everybody in the country knows: "How do I get to Boston Symphony Hall?"
I know, Blabby! Five out of six shows sold out, so a ticket was hard to come by.
Sweet, then the arts don't need any of my money!
Wouldn't it be much less expensive to fund an all-expense payed trip to Portland for the "major players in the national media"? By my rough calculations, you could fly out 60 "major players" of media from NYC, put them up at a nice hotel for 3 nights and pay around $78k for it, roundtrip.
Can't we all get along? Here is my proposal: ROAD TRIP.

The city council and assorted arts supporters and city council folks can grab a violinist or two and load up the car and drive out there. They can camp on the way. (The firefighters can come too, but only if Randy gets to drive one of their trucks.)

On the way they can do a show in Baker County, Cody Wyoming, Pine Ridge South Dakota and a few other places. I'm sure we can find a place to camp or stay at the local grange or something. When we get to New York, we can hit up all the NYT reporters who love Portland so much to put us up for a night or two, play Carnegie Hall and drive home.

Between gas, cheap non-craft beers and the camping, we could probably knock $190,000 if we stick to the $5 menu at Subway on the way out there.

It'll be like a reverse wagon train of awesomeness.
Actually Boston Symphony Hall, along with Vienna's Muskivereinsall, have the best acoustics in the world. Ask Carlos Kalmar, who has conducted in both. Carnegie is not bad, but well down the list. Read Leo Beranek's "Music, Acoustics, and Architecture:" copies in both our central library (on reserve) and in PSU library.

In the 1950s Robert Moses got the old Met demolished in his megaplan for Lincoln Center, and but for Isaac Stern would have got Carnegie too. New York City has Carnegie, but not much else, as the several incarnations of a hall for the New York Philharmonic in Lincoln Center have been mediocre--at best.

When James Levine, conductor of the Met, does symphony, he does so in Boston Symphony Hall. Brush up on your theoretical acoustics and you will understand why Carnegie warrants a reputation only in NYC.
Jesus fucking Christ! Can any of you see that the budget also includes nearly 2 grand for PDX Pop Now!, 200 thousand for a children's theater school, and nearly 250 thousand for the RACC? That's not a bad amount of scratch for the PDX arts community!

I love the symphony! I do! I go. I buy tickets. I dress up and everything. It's quite enriching. But if you tell me that a trip to Carnegie is going to A. Increase prestige and awareness that will draw more local people to the symphony and create some kind of collateral patronage that will somehow bolster the rest of Portland's arts community, OR B. Draw national attention to Portland creating some kind of magical art tourism, I call BULL-SHEEEET

If that's your argument for giving these (yes very talented musicians) the (public) money to get to play Carnegie Hall, then I suggest you take that same sum and divvy it up among any number of arts groups that do a far better job of attracting the attention of both locals and international types to Portland (PICA's TBA is just an example).

OR, maybe use that money to help educate the community about the symphony. Shit. You want people to be aware of the symphony? $200,000 will buy a whole bunch of symphony tickets that you can drop like leaflets on the great unwashed East of 82nd.

If the budget is suffering right now, I think we show a much better face to the big important New York media by cutting shit that "maybe just might hopefully" increase awareness and bring tourist dollars, and buckle down to keep shit fixed that needs to be fixed.

Because the fact is, the symphony is a goddamn cultural luxury. A luxury I love, but a luxury. This money could be better used.
Nice picture of Lorin Maazel (former music director of the NY Phil) - couldn't you find a picture of the Oregon Symphony's music director Carlos Kalmar?
Anyway, you can read my thoughts here:…
Mr. Lee - Carnegie isn't the greatest acoustic in the world, but it is the showcase where the most great orchestras come in this country. James Levine conducts the MET orchestra at Carnegie when they do their non-operatic concert series. He conducts at Symphony Hall in Boston because that's where his other orchestra is based (and they also play annually at Carnegie Hall).
We already have too much national reputation, dammit! We really, really need to convince the rest of the world that Portland is an ignorant, unattractive wannabe city.

Don't get me wrong, I like the symphony, and if it was 200k to keep the symphony alive, I'd say hell yes and send them $10.

But for a road trip to improve our already over-inflated rep??? No, No, and F*CK NO!!!

Sorry, Carl
ps. I looked up the Right Brain Initiative.

It's part of the RACC, and looks like a laudable program to engage kids in the arts. I like the concept.

BUT!!!! That brings RACC requests to a behemoth total of $450,000.

Sorry arts dudes and dudettes, but that houses and feeds a bunch of homeless hungry people, or patches hundreds of potholes, or restores cut library services, or retains teachers facing layoffs, etc.

Bottom line, art survives with or without public support, sometimes it grows stronger and more vibrant WITHOUT support. Not true with children, elders, the homeless, ad infinitum.

If we had the money to burn, I'd say yes, but we are in serious crunch-time kids.
I find it interesting, rabblevox, that you deem libraries worthy of public funding but not the arts. Isn't the value of both cultural in nature? Or is because, alongside Tolstoy, Angelou and all the other obviously frivolous writers on the library shelves, one can also find Windows for Dummies, car manuals and other books that are "useful?"

And what if public funds saved the jobs of music and painting teachers? Would that be okay, or are you strictly referring to people who teach "important" subjects like math and science?

I'm just curious.
Wow! At last a Merc thread on acoustics of concert halls!

A bit of local history:

Way back when PDX was doing the Performing Arts Center I spent a lot of time in City Hall trying to persuade Council to build a new concert hall modeled on Symphony Hall instead. One of my pitches was that with that level of acoustic quality we would attract exceptional orchestras both for performances and recording sessions. Coulda, woulda, shoulda. After all, but for the flip of a coin we would have been, "Boston, Oregon!"

Back to Ez and his Blazers.
I am for most arts funding requests, but I am going to look at each request individually. The city needs to look at what the actual budget for the $500,000 total cost of this trip. If that budget can be cut, and still allow the trip to be made, then the first thing the city needs to do is cut any money it gives accordingly.

At the end of the day, I still struggle to see how this is the best way to spend $200,000 on the arts.
Not long ago, I was in Albuquerque and asked a local what I should see in town. "Nothing," he said. "Albuquerque is a place that has all of the disadvantages of a big city but none of the advantages."

As I read all these comments, I'm starting to worry that Portland may be heading in the same direction. Portland is one of the fastest-growing cities in the U.S. It's on the verge of passing Pittsburgh -- a big, important city -- in metro population. But major cities, by definition, offer and support big-city amenities like museums and symphony orchestras and ballet companies and all those other things that separate civilized places from the vast expanses of the country where there is, like the guy in Albuquerque told me, nothing worth seeing.

Portland could be one of this country's major cities in the 21st century. Is it willing to do what it takes? Or is content being a place that offers its residents and its visitors nothing more than lots of coffee shops and places to ride a bike?
@jones: I really dislike it when someone argues against something I never said.

I dislike it even more when the argument against what I never said is intrinsically nonsensical.

Please learn how to read and write effectively (hence my support for libraries), and try again later.
@rabblevox: just trying to make a point (perhaps poorly) that it seems somewhat arbitrary to support library funding and not arts funding. They seem to be cut from the same cloth.

I didn't mean to offend.
Also, I erred in my comment in Matt's posting: the City of Portland, with major support and urging from then Commissioner Adams, gave $250,000 - not $80,000 as I originally said - to Oregon Ballet Theatre for its Kennedy Center debut, and the year was 2008. Mea culpa.
@Stephen: That was for the ballet. Not the symphony. At least, that's what Thomas Lauderdale is saying.
@Matt: that's what I said. :) My quote, originally: "I'm thinking, for example, of his $80,000 he gave to help support the Oregon Ballet Theater's debut at the Kennedy Center in 2007." The City gave $250,000 to support OBT's Kennedy Center debut in 2008. Yes. Now the Oregon Symphony is asking for $200,000 to support their Carnegie Hall debut in 2011. Hope that clears up any confusion!
"How do I get to Boston Symphony Hall?" so funny!
This is a total waste of money in this economy.
Predatory Lending is a major contributor to the economic turmoil we are currently experiencing.

Here is an example of what I am talking about:
Scott Veerkamp / Predatory Lending (Franklin Township School Board Member.)

Please review this information from U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley regarding deceptive lending practices:
"Steering payments were made to brokers who enticed unsuspecting homeowners into deceptive and expensive mortgages. These secret bonus payments, often called Yield Spread Premiums, turned home mortgages into a SCAM."

The Center for Responsible Lending says YSP "steals equity from struggling families."
1. Scott collected nearly $10,000 on two separate mortgages using YSP and junk fees. 2. This is an average of $5,000 per loan. 3. The median value of the properties was $135,000. 4. Clearly, this type of lending represents a major ripoff for consumers.…
So I was interested in how much these musicians make, but really how much the president made. Here is a bit of what I found.

"Fife pointed out that the symphony's musicians are underpaid compared to similar orchestras (their average salary is around $45,000)." "The agreed cut in pay is actually a shortening of the season for musicians, from 41 to 38 weeks." Not a bad salary, might rank up there with a teachers salary.…

So in 2008 Elaine Calder had a salary of $193,173, or 1.33% of expenses. This site rates the charity as a 46 out of 100.…

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