Salem, Ore. – The Emergency Board of the Oregon Legislature approved a $50 million relief package for Oregon culture Tuesday that includes $25,984,872 to Business Oregon for statewide distribution to cultural organizations by the Oregon Cultural Trust. The funding was made available through the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund to address the devastating impact the COVID-19 health crisis is having on Oregon’s arts and cultural community.
“We are extremely grateful to lawmakers for recognizing that preserving our culture is essential as we navigate through this unprecedented crisis,” said Chuck Sams, chair of the Cultural Trust Board. “Our collective culture is the glue that binds us together as Oregonians, especially during challenging times. Arts and culture cross all boundaries and inspire us to celebrate our diversity and resilience as a people.”
The Cultural Trust is working with the Oregon Arts Commission to develop statewide, equitable funding distribution to be administered through the Cultural Trust’s County and Tribal Coalitions, said Brian Rogers, executive director of the Cultural Trust and the Arts Commission. The statewide distribution plan is expected to be reviewed by the Cultural Trust Board of Directors at its July 23 meeting. Coronavirus Relief Funds are mandated to be distributed by Sept. 15, 2020.
The remainder of the relief funding package for culture was allocated directly to several statewide cultural organizations and to for-profit and nonprofit performing venues.
Since the crisis began, nonprofit cultural organizations across the state have cancelled thousands of performances, events and activities – including key fundraising events – and most have closed their doors to the public. The loss of projected earned income, lifeblood for most cultural organizations, has resulted in significant layoffs and furloughs. Many organizations are at risk of bankruptcy and permanent closure.
A recent survey of 330 Oregon cultural nonprofits by the Cultural Trust revealed that participants projected a collective loss of $40 million and average losses of $121,281 by June 30. The majority of respondents (54 percent) have annual revenues of less than $250,000 and operate outside of the Portland Metro area.
“Our distribution of the relief funds will ensure that cultural organizations in every county, serving every geographic region of our state, will benefit,” said Rogers. “At times like these we depend on our arts, history, heritage and humanities to help us persevere. These funds will go a long way in ensuring our cultural community survives this crisis.”
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.