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Dan Wieden on Portland’s proposed arts tax: ‘a fabulous idea’

Published: Tuesday, August 28, 2012, 3:52 PM     Updated: Tuesday, August 28, 2012, 3:54 PM



Dan Wieden, founder of Portland’s Wieden+Kennedy advertising agency (see Nike, etc.), considers the arts central to people’s lives and to any creative, engaged business. Which is why he supports the Portland arts tax that will appear on the ballot in November.

“I think it’s a fabulous idea,” he said during a lengthy interview, Tuesday.

Voters will decide if wage-earners in Multnomah County should pay $35 a year.  A little more than half the $12 million estimated revenue will fund arts teachers and the rest will support the day-to-day operations of 42 arts organizations.

“When you say art doesn’t matter, you’re full of (it),” said Wieden, who is well-known for encouraging creativity at his agency. “It drives me nuts. It’s complete blindness to how the world works.”

Einstein was incredibly creative, he said. “If you think creativity is just an aperetif, you’ve missed the whole point about business.”

Wieden, who grew up in Portland, got hooked on theater while a student at Grant High School. “I really, really loved it,” he said. “If we can bring arts back to the schools…”

“The arts teach us about ourselves,” he continued. “They create bonds between people and those bonds are necessary to invent things, discover things. To be creative is to learn something new. It compels people to act. I quickly learned through art that everybody should be able to have a creative live. Through the arts, they discover their voice, and once they discover their voice, they can make their way in the world. You have the ability to understand the world, challenge the world and change the world. A creative life will help you, believe me. If it didn’t, I would be toast because I don’t have much of a left brain.”

More of Wieden’s comments will appear in a future story.

David Stabler

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