$10 Million Relief Fund for Oregon’s Arts Organizations Moves Forward

The Oregon Cultural Trust announced that they unanimously voted to devote $10 million to create an emergency relief fund to support the state’s arts and cultural organizations. However, their decision must be approved by the Oregon Legislature since the Cultural Trust Statute currently doesn’t contain a provision for an emergency fund like this.  

The $10 million would come from the Cultural Trust’s $29 million Permanent Fund. According to an announcement on their website, this plan is the result of consultation with partners including the Governor’s Office, Business Oregon, the Oregon Arts Commission.    

They voted during an emergency meeting held on Saturday, March 21. Sometime during the next few weeks, they will present the concept to the Legislature for consideration.  

If approved,  The Cultural Trust will convene a committee of stakeholders to develop and implement the emergency funding program.  

As of March 24, 423 Oregon arts and culture organizations reported losses of over $8.6 million.   

An announcement from the Cultural Trust stated: “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.”  

The Oregon State Legislature created the Oregon Cultural Trust in 2001 to protect the state’s cultural organizations for future generations. According to the Cultural Trust, Oregonians contributed $4.5 million to the trust in 2019.   

40 percent of that went to the permanent fund while the remaining 60 percent supported Oregon’s cultural programs through support to their five statewide partners, 45 County and Tribal coalitions, and 1,450 cultural nonprofits that received grants through their competitive Cultural Development Grants.  

By Samantha Sied