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Oregon Cultural Trust awards record $3.02 million in grants


As a testament to Oregonians’ steadfast and growing commitment to supporting culture, the Oregon Cultural Trust will award a record $3.02 million in grants to 137 cultural nonprofits in fiscal year 2019, a 3 percent increase over 2018 and the first time grants have exceeded $3 million.

The increase is the direct result of another record year of fundraising and a 55 percent uptick in new donors, officials said in a news release Wednesday.

The awards include a total of $755,369 to the Cultural Trust’s five statewide partners (Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Heritage Commission, Oregon Humanities, Oregon Historical Society and the State Historic Preservation Office); $755,369 to 45 County and Tribal Cultural Coalitions – for regranting in their communities; and $1,510,110 in competitive Cultural Development Grants to 87 cultural organizations across the state.

Reinforcing the findings of the recently released “Impacts of the Oregon Cultural Trust and the Cultural Tax Credit” report by ECONorthwest, per capita funding to County and Tribal Cultural Coalitions this year is highest in Oregon’s most remote regions, reaching $5.91 for the Coquille Indian Tribe compared to $0.12 in Multnomah and Washington Counties. The report calls the geographic reach of Cultural Trust funding “remarkable.”

“It is extremely gratifying to have the ability to fund more of the amazing cultural projects happening across our great state,” said Chuck Sams III, chair of the Cultural Trust board. “We are incredibly grateful to our donors and excited by the increased access this funding will provide to ensure active and culturally vibrant communities.”

“Through the generosity of Oregonians and the Cultural Tax Credit, the Cultural Trust has now awarded more than $26 million in grants while growing its permanent fund to close to $29 million,” said Brian Rogers, the Cultural Trust’s executive director. “That’s a good investment in Oregon’s famous quality of life for today, tomorrow and future generations.”

Highlights of grant projects funded include:

The development of Astoria’s Scandinavian Heritage Park to honor the immigrant tradition that brought thousands of Scandinavians to Oregon’s North Coast in the late 1800s and early 1900s; A remodel of Cottage Grove’s Cottage Theatre to increase seating, allowing 4,000 more patrons to experience performances each year; Funding to support Portland Center Stage’s JAW 2019: A Playwrights Festival; Restoration of the historic 1911 Belletable House southeast of Bend by the Fort Rock Valley Historical Society; A half-time managing director for Ballet Folklorico Ritmo Alegre in Medford, ensuring sustainability of community dance classes and performances; and Support of the “Re-TURN the Jantzen Beach Carousel” project, including the restoration of an original pony to illustrate the value of preserving an historic icon.

The Cultural Development Grants include first-time awards to 17 organizations and a record average grant award of $17,358. The largest grant awards also mark a record, exceeding $40,000 for the first time; they were awarded to six organizations: Portland’s August Wilson Red Door Project; Medford’s Butte Creek Mill Foundation; Cottage Grove’s Cottage Theatre; the Eugene Ballet; Eugene’s Shedd Institute for the Arts; and Ashland’s Oregon Shakespeare Festival.

Half of the grants were awarded to organizations outside of the Portland Metro area. Cultural Development Grants fund projects that address access, capacity, creativity and preservation. Just under half of the 167 applications received were funded.

Cultural Development Grants, organized alphabetically by geographic region, were awarded to:

Central Region (Jefferson, Deschutes and Crook Counties)

BendFilm, Bend: $9,669

To invest in a half-time development director to increase existing staff capacity and deepen the impact of festival and year-round screening and education programs while allowing existing staff to operate festival-related activities in Warm Springs, Madras, Redmond, Sisters and La Pine.

The High Desert Museum, Bend: $26,906

To support an interdisciplinary exhibition, “Water in the West,” bringing together scholars, artists and scientists to explore the cultural and natural history of the role of water in the economy and culture of the West.

Sisters Folk Festival, Inc., Sisters: $5,000

To support the presentation of national and international artists celebrating the distinct cultural traditions of Bluegrass, Cajun and Celtic in Americana music.

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