The arts and culture community in Oregon is getting a $25.7 million infusion of aid to help it survive the financial destruction brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.
The Coronavirus Relief Fund Cultural Support grants, which average $41,458, will go to 621 organizations around the state. The funds are part of a relief package passed by the Oregon Legislature in July.
“These funds are life blood to Oregon’s cultural community,” Oregon Cultural Trust board chairman Chuck Sams said in a statement. “While they won’t replace all the losses suffered during the pandemic, they will ensure Oregon culture survives this crisis.”
The Oregon Museum of Science and Industry will receive $1.4 million from the fund, the largest grant. Portland Art Museum was awarded $1.3 million. Portland’s Artists Repertory Theatre will take in $460,000, and close to the same amount will go to Portland Children’s Museum.
The Oregon Cultural Trust, which will distribute the grants, said the funding “was determined based on eligible request amounts, an award-allocation formula that established a base amount of funds per county or Tribe, and the organization’s fiscal size.”
In March, state-mandate lockdowns to slow the spread of the deadly coronavirus forced thousands of arts and culture venues across the country to temporarily close. Six months later, the pandemic is still with us and arts organizations continue to struggle with empty seats and a trickle of revenue or none at all.
An earlier, $50 million round of relief funding through the federal CARES Act went out in the summer to a variety of Oregon arts and culture institutions, including the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, Oregon Symphony, Portland Opera, Portland Center Stage, Oregon Ballet Theater and Pendleton Round-Up. Groups that received funds through the CARES Act were not eligible for these state grants.
Thirty-three Washington County organizations have been awarded grants totaling $1.6 million, but the county did not participate in the Coronavirus Relief Fund Cultural Support program. The Oregon Cultural Trust says it is exploring “potential solutions” that will allow those grants to be distributed.
— Douglas Perry
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