They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself. – Andy Warhol (1928-87 American artist, a leading figure in the visual art movement known as pop art)
The City of Bend has become a hotbed for incredible works of art. Bend embraces the truly fabulous roundabout art, the fresh new mural at the Les Schwab Amphitheater and the sweet culture of the Tin Pan Alley Art Collection in and around the Oxford Hotel.
Through the Tower Theatre, Les Schwab Amphitheater and numerous festivals and concerts in Bend’s parks, the city is a draw for residents and visitors alike, as they take in world-class entertainment while surrounded by the majestic high desert landscape.
Now Bend has an opportunity to prosper from our cultural capital with a proposal by the Tourism, Arts and Public Safety Initiative who have asked the Bend City Council to place a measure on the November 2013 ballot that would ask voters to increase Bend’s Transient Room Tax (TRT) rate by 2 percent, a change from the current rate of 9 to a new rate of 11 percent.
The majority of the funds raised will go to promoting tourism in Bend, especially during the winter months. A portion will go to public safety (approximately $250,000 annually) for Bend’s police and fire departments to mitigate the city’s public safety funding shortfall.
The unique part of the proposal is particularly exciting to the local arts community whereby about $200,000+ raised from this initiative will create a Cultural Trust Fund that will enhance Bend’s economy by establishing a long-term source of public funding for the arts. Cultural tourism projects such as film, art and music festivals and distinctive museum and visual exhibitions can be funded that will draw tourists to Bend as well as preserve and highlight our cultural capital.
Just imagine the possibilities that the local art scene could do with this creative prospect.
To be true the lodging industry is not in complete agreement about this visitor tax increase. However many lodging operators embrace the proposal to help bring more tourists to Bend. Opponents suggest that it could hurt their business keeping tourists away because of the tax increase or that there has not been enough public input on the proposal.
These statements are misleading as people don’t base their trips on the local tax (Bend’s current TRT rate is lower than many similar cities) and there have been numerous meetings and ample time to discuss and revise the proposal. It’s time now to let the voters of Bend decide on the issue.
The initiative is a tremendous opportunity to set the stage for our cultural treasures while improving the local economy.
Another public hearing will be held on the transit room tax increase proposal on July 10, 7pm at Bend City Hall. Please try to attend.
I encourage you to add your name to the list of supporters by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
For details on the proposal: www.bendTAPS.com.
by PAMELA HULSE ANDREWS Cascade A&E Publisher