July 26th, 2006 | by MARK BAUMGARTEN Music | Posted In: Columns

Q&A: Sam Adams

     
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The city commissioner heats up the city's tepid support for local music.

[POLITICS] Last Wednesday City Commissioner Sam Adams helped introduce about 500 music fans and three local bands (Pseudosix, the Minders, Quasi) to City Hall during a late-afternoon concert in front of the municipal building. The concert, put on in conjunction with the PDX Pop Now! Festival, was promoted by Adams and fellow commissioner Erik Sten as an outreach to a community that might not even know where City Hall is. Adams, Portland's arts and culture commissioner, has also reached out by inviting the local music community to comment on his website (commissionersam.com). WW sat down with an exhausted Adams the day after the concert to see what gives.

—Mark Baumgarten.

WW: How did yesterday end up happening?

Sam Adams: When I was chief of staff to the mayor, I always thought City Hall seemed more like a mausoleum than a people's hall, so when I was fortunate enough to get elected, I tried to get appointed the arts and culture commissioner because I really wanted to combine the two and really make this much more of a place...where people feel welcome.... So Jesse [Beason, Adams' senior policy director] had a connection with [PDX Pop Now!]. So, it's great weather, let's do something! Jesse made the connection and found the music and got the mayor's support.
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Is there more to it than that? You've also asked for suggestions on how the city can help the music community.

Did you know we're 24th in public funding for the arts in the United States? We have far more arts and culture here than we deserve, given how little we give to it. We're the number one location for in-migration in the United States for 18- to 34-year-olds, and I want to build on a reputation as a great place to live, as a great place for artists and culturists to want to live, and to find affordable spaces and venues for practice and to create a live music district.

But shouldn't it be survival of the fittest? Should crappy bands be able to live comfortably?

That's not my point, to artificially decide what's popular or not; that's not my business. My business is...to provide that infrastructure for that cycle, that survival of the fittest.... The biggest problem we have now is that we have many people who are very talented or very good—I think we saw some of them last night—and yet they struggle here, in part because we're not the most populous place in the United States. I still think we can do a lot better.

For the full interview, search "Sam Adams."
 
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