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Budget crunch could mean higher fees for services as Multmnomah Arts Center plans its fiscal future

A series of questions about the future of the Multnomah Arts Center were addressed to Michel Walsh, supervisor of arts programs. Answers were provided by Mark Ross, a spokesperson for the Portland Parks and Recreation Bureau.

According to the MAC website: Multnomah Arts Center Gallery has approximately 200 linear feet with beautiful white display walls and "floating" walls for versatile art displays. As an educational instrument for our community, the MAC Gallery has been open since 1982 and has had over 300 shows.
Southwest Community Connection: What is the initial plan for the "business model transition for Multnomah Arts Center." You had to know this was coming so what's been done in terms of assessing opportunities to increase revenues?

Mark Ross: The initial plan is to transition MAC to an operating model that does not rely on General Fund support. As part of the transition funding in the Mayor's Proposed Budget, a transition project manager would coordinate the development of a new business model.

SWCC: How might City funding be replaced 19 months from now?

Ross: While it is too soon to speculate on the funding details, we expect a likely combination of increased program revenue, increased rental revenue, costs reductions, and possibly other new forms of revenue that are yet to be determined.

SWCC: How can the community of Multnomah Arts Center supporters get involved?

Ross: Currently, the best way to show support for the arts center is by enrolling in one of MAC's hundreds of classes, renting the facility, or by taking part in the special programs and events which MAC hosts. We expect more clarity on how the community can be further involved in the near-future, possibly through fundraising efforts to support the nonprofit Multnomah Arts Center Association (MACA). MACA has done wonderful work to assist MAC, above and beyond what the Parks Bureau can do by ourselves, since 1983.

SWCC: Has the nonprofit group MACA met to discuss the Mayor's proposal?

Ross: MACA has had preliminary discussions about how the Mayor's proposed budget might affect MAC, but has not made any changes in their ongoing and valued support of the center.

SWCC: What isn't an option in the "business model transition"?  

Ross: Options and possibilities are yet to be considered.

SWCC: Has thought been given to downsizing Multnomah Arts Center by selling off assets? (Cottages)

Ross: No.

SWCC: The argument against raising fees at centers like the Southwest Community Center at Gabriel Park is that people could find those offerings elsewhere. Is that the case with MAC's many programs and classes? Is there an alternative if fees are raised?

Ross: Consistent with the city's equity goals and PP&R values, we seek to provide maximum access to facilities and programs while keeping fees accessible. It is too early to speculate about possible fee increases at MAC. However, please know that our valued nonprofit partner, MACA, has increasingly supported need-based scholarships to those that cannot afford MAC fees. The group intends to continue increasing this support.

SWCC: Should the thousands who use the Multnomah Arts Center in one way or another be worried?

Ross: No. They should stay engaged, informed and supportive of MAC and its role in the local community and the greater Portland-area arts community as well.

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