Cultural Trust Adds to Economy & Benefits Communities in Numerous Ways

Originally published in Cascade Business News October 3, 2011

by Pamela Hulse Andrews CEO/Founder

Oregon’s Cultural Trust was established by law in 1999 with funding mechanisms approved in 2001 in large part due to the dedicated commitment of our former State Treasurer  beloved Central Oregonian, Ben Westlund.

Ben believed, as we do, that art culture play an enormous role in preserving the high quality of life we treasure in this state he aimed to not only preserve enhance our humanities, museums, theatres works of art but to create jobs for the numerous people you will find working in the creative fields.

Since the concept’s inception nearly $25 million has been donated to the Cultural Trust, with at least another $25 million given directly to cultural nonprofits.  The number growing every year, 21,000 donors have contributed to the Trust.

That is a huge amount of leverage tremendous funding for art cultural projects that might not have happened if the opportunity had not been created to allow people to double their donation capabilities.

A permanent endowment st s at almost $15 million as of June 30, 2011 with $9.7 million in 775 grants distributed all over the state. Just as businesses establish cash reserves for leaner economic times, so does the Cultural Trust through its endowment, stabilizing funding for our cultural resources in leaner times just like the ones we are facing today.

Grants for fiscal year 2012 will be announced by August 1.  In July 2010, the Trust announced $1.47 million in grants benefiting 57 heritage, arts humanities nonprofits statewide; 40 county tribal coalitions, which redistribute the funds to community cultural nonprofits five statewide partners including the Oregon Arts Commission Oregon Humanities, which use Trust funds to augment their grant programs.

A particular concern, in today’s economy, is whether we should even have tax credits would the money be best used for other state purposes. We encourage you to look at it this way:

• The Arts Commission Cultural Trust’s budget impact is minimal amounts to less than .0006 percent of the state’s overall $16 billion budget – it only reduces state income tax revenue by about $3 million a year. But that $3 million is offset in the numerous jobs the Trust is able help generate retain through its granting process.

• The Trust has been compared to the bottle bill vote-by-mail as among Oregon’s most forward-thinking public policy measures. No other state in the nation has a cultural funding mechanism like it. With the Cultural Trust, Oregon is once again showing public policy leadership as the Trust model is being explored by several other states across the nation.

• The Oregon Cultural Trust is broad inclusive.  It’s much more than the arts…it’s humanities historic preservation; children elders; community heritage traditions festivals; it’s century farms, botanic gardens pioneer trails.  The Trust funds major arts organizations small historical societies…symphony orchestras school b s…capital campaigns website development…the established the emerging…pioneer homesteads native languages artifacts.  It helps keep writers, dancers, sculptors, painters, teachers, musicians, dancers, actors, set designers, choreographers, numerous people in the creative fields, employed contributing to our cultural life.

• The public sector has invested in culture in good times bad.  The federal government employed artists, writers photographers in the WPA, establishing the National Park Service the Civilian Conservation Corps, building enduring structures like Timberline Lodge.  Today, the Cultural Trust is investing similarly: the Friends of Timberline Lodge has received two Trust grants, the CCC cabins at Camp Sherman were preserved in part through Trust funding historic structures across the state including Kam Wah Chung in John Day, have been stabilized repaired because of Trust donations.
In 2010 six million Oregonians visitors experienced the arts in Oregon over 500,000 young people were touched by arts cultural programs.  
Our cultural attractions (museums, heritage centers, galleries public works of art) bring visitors to Central Oregon who contribute to our economy by spending money here.

From the Deschutes County st point, a few months ago the Central Oregon Arts & Cultural Alliance collected the expense budget information from some of the then 20 members of the alliance.  The amount invested back into the Sisters, Bend, Sunriver Communities is over $18 million annually. 

If the only thing that was important in today’s challenging times is creating jobs, then our arts cultural industry is doing just that. The Cultural Trust is a competent asset that we hope can be preserved.  We encourage our elected officials, Senator Chris Telfer, Representative Jason Conger Gene Whisnant to consider the Cultural Trust as a means to boost our economy enhance the quality of life in all of our communities. pha

How the Cultural Trust Works
The cultural tax credit – the Trust’s chief fundraising mechanism – can be claimed by anyone who pays Oregon state income tax (even Washington residents).

Unlike a tax deduction that only reduces the amount of your taxable income; a tax credit reduces the amount of tax you owe. Your gift to the Oregon Cultural Trust will reduce your April Oregon Income Tax bill dollar for dollar…a 100 percent credit for every dollar you give to the Trust ($500 for individuals, $1,000 for couples filing jointly $2,500 for Oregon corporations).

For instance if you gave the Theatre of the Cascades $250 the High Desert Museum $250, as an individual you can claim a $500 tax credit when you give the Trust $500.

Since memberships in public broadcasting, art museums historical societies; contributions to school music boosters public school foundations count as cultural donations, nearly everyone is a cultural donor.

by PAMELA HULSE ANDREWS Cascade A&E Publisher

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