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Oregon lawmakers to consider emergency relief funding for arts, culture

Oregon Cultural Trust logo
Oregon Cultural Trust

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) – In response to communication from the Oregon Cultural Trust, its Statewide Partners and arts and cultural organizations across the state, Gov. Kate Brown directed the agency to explore opportunities to identify relief funding to address the devastating impact the COVID-19 health crisis is having on Oregon’s arts and cultural community.

Since the crisis began, nonprofit cultural organizations across the state have canceled thousands of performances, events and activities – including key fundraising events – and most have closed their doors to the public.

As of March 24, 423 Oregon cultural organizations had already reported financial losses to-date of $8,611,881, with data still being collected from more than 1,000 organizations (Source: Americans for the Arts). Organizations in in the Portland area alone are estimating losses of $45.8 million by the end of May (Source: Regional Arts and Cultural Council).

The loss of projected earned income, lifeblood for most cultural organizations, has already resulted in significant layoffs and furloughs, with many more to come if relief doesn’t arrive soon. Many organizations are already facing bankruptcy and permanent closure.

In addition, cancellations of events and programming, as well as school closures, have adversely affected hundreds of artists and cultural workers whose livelihoods depend on income from teaching, performing and participating in cultural activities.

Following consultation with the Governor’s Office, Business Oregon and its statewide partners, including sister agency the Oregon Arts Commission, the Cultural Trust Board of Directors held an emergency meeting on Saturday, March 21, and unanimously voted to use up to $10 million of its $29 million permanent fund to create an emergency relief funding program.

Because the current Cultural Trust statute does not contain a provision for emergency relief funding, the program requires approval by the Oregon Legislature. A concept for consideration by the Legislature is being developed and will be presented during an anticipated special session within the next few weeks. The Cultural Trust will convene a committee of stakeholders to fully and quickly develop and implement an emergency funding program that is equitable and easy to use to expedite funding.

"The Oregon Cultural Trust permanent fund was created by the Legislature to protect Oregon’s cultural organizations for future generations," the trust noted in Friday's announcement. "That future is currently at dire risk.

The Cultural Trust Board of Directors said it "respects and honors the commitment that thousands of Trust donors have made with their contributions to the permanent fund. It is the Board’s sincere hope that donors will respect that, at this unprecedented time in Oregon history, the funds will be used exactly as they were intended: To protect the future of Oregon culture."


About the Oregon Cultural Trust

Created in 2001 by the Oregon Legislature, the Oregon Cultural Trust is a testament to how much Oregonians value culture. No other state provides a 100 percent tax credit to inspire cultural giving. As uniquely Oregonian as public beaches and the bottle bill, the Oregon Cultural Trust was designed as an ongoing funding engine for arts and culture across the state. Oregonians fund the Cultural Trust. We, in turn, fund the artists, potters, poets, acrobats and dreamers who define our famous quality of life.

In 2019 Oregonians gave $4.5 million to the Cultural Trust. Sixty percent of that went straight back to the field. The remaining 40 percent helped grow our permanent fund. Our three grant programs fund our five Statewide Partners, 45 County and Tribal Coalitions and 1,450+ qualified cultural nonprofits through competitive Cultural Development Grants.

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  1. Don’t let a crisis go to waste you boondoggle libs. It’s in a crisis we can measure character and motives. Your telling me there’s no better way to expend public resources than this shameful self gratification to a bunch of parasites in Bend and Salem? Disgusting and corrupt!

    1. Funding the arts is not a core governmental function; it’s a frivolous “feel good” act.

      Let’s focus scarce state funds on things that actually pertain to the public’s physical health.

  2. Crap like this shouldn’t get a dime of support. It’s completely non-essential…
    Unfortunately the liberals along with their idiot Governor will find a way to throw
    them 100 million or so. After all, it’s only money…
    If the arts and cultural garbage is so important to the beautiful people in the valley,
    they can completely fund it themselves or watch it go away, and if they feel the need to
    look at paintings or sculptures they can do it online. People have plenty of time right now
    and I’m sure there is enough of it on the internet to keep them busy for months…

    – I guess the Dems weren’t happy with almost doubling the cost of the stimulus package
    simply by cramming it full of non-essential and unrelated garbage, so they will keep looking for the next cause to waste money on. Let’s not forget the over 3 billion for unemployment
    increases so people that didn’t make a lot of money in the first place, can now make roughly $4,000 a month on unemployment. There is no end to the stupidity of these people…

    – I really don’t know how people can claim that Democrats are the intelligent and rational party with a straight face, but that’s what loyal subjects do…

  3. Portions of past civilizations that are admired most or have been retained through time have been their art, be it paintings, sculptures, literature, architecture, music, or other forms. Much of that was subsidized by the government (which, in some situations happened to be those people who ran the government). Now, maybe some of the complainers here would rather our society be remembered for the strip malls, parking lots, and drive-through fast food restaurants, but others are aware of the lasting value of culture and the joy, hope, or happiness it can bring now and in the future. In addition, artists do make up a significant sector of the working population in both large and small towns, providing tourist attraction, bringing dollars into the local economy, and being a source of civic pride. Their profession is a valid one just as motel staff, ski resort workers, construction workers, or garbage truck drivers, and they should be given the same support and courtesy. And, as pointed out, the money supporting this action is money that’s already there and earmarked for the arts.

    1. I doubt that artists make up a significant sector of the working population, but I guess it depends on what is considered significant.
      They certainly aren’t equally as important as truck drivers, construction workers,
      or even the motel workers you mentioned. Without truck drivers life as we have known it for years will cease to exist. Without artists, life will continue just fine…
      People who really enjoy the arts have different ways to try and justify it to those of us who don’t, and that’s fine, there is nothing wrong with it. but it’s still non-essential to daily life…
      As far as anything that has historical significance, that should certainly be preserved
      and displayed so that everyone can see and enjoy it, as well as for future generations…

        1. Nope, I don’t go to bars, or even drink for that matter, and we very rarely go out to restaurants. I went to a couple different art museums when I was very young.
          It certainly wasn’t by choice, they were school field trips. And even though I wasn’t very old it didn’t take me long to know that standing around looking at paintings that look like some preschoolers threw paint at a blank canvas, with a bunch of pretentious, snobby people isn’t my idea of fun, but I do enjoy looking at artifacts from past civilizations and other items that have historical significance…

          – Yes in some cases voters do vote to support the arts. Unfortunately it’s the same
          people that support a Governor that thinks it’s okay to break the law daily by aiding and abetting criminal illegals,and ignores the voters on things she doesn’t like. The same people that think her back door tax schemes like cap and profit are a good idea even though they would be financially devastating for many Oregon citizens, but very
          lucrative for Brown and her subjects…

          – There is more to life, but choosing the correct homophone when writing would
          probably be a good place to start…

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