SALEM, Oregon - Oregonians said a resounding YES to culture in 2015, donating a record $4.56 million to the Oregon Cultural Trust. The total is a 5.4 percent increase over 2014 and the largest annual increase since the 2008 recession.
"This is a powerful vote of support for culture," said Executive Director Brian Rogers. "Every donation we receive is an Oregonian saying 'Culture is important.'
"It's also a vote of confidence in our new brand," he added. "We've heard a lot of positive comments, but this is the greatest endorsement we could receive." The new brand, rolled out in September, is more energetic and empowers all Oregonians to celebrate the state's "98,000 square miles of YES!"
"It is so gratifying to see this growth," said Carole Morse, chair of the Cultural Trust Board of Directors. "The more we raise, the more we can award in grants to our cultural network. So a great year of fundraising is a great year of grantmaking -- everybody wins!"
Giving trends include continued growth in online giving, up 5.2 percent, and younger donors - due in large part to the Trust's participation in the Willamette Week Give!Guide. Donations to the Trust through the Give!Guide totaled $356,850 -- an increase of more than $60,000 over 2014.
Thanks to new 2015 legislation (SB 441), the Trust now distributes up to 60 percent of every dollar raised in statewide grants, while at least 40 percent is placed into a permanent fund currently valued at just over $26 million. Previously, the distribution formula specified only 42 percent could be used for annual grantmaking.
The new funding allocation enabled the Trust to award a record $2.6 million in 2015. The grants were distributed through the Trust's five Cultural Partners -- Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Heritage, Oregon Historical Society, Oregon Humanities and the Oregon State Office of Historic Preservation -- as well as through the Trust's 45 county/tribal coalitions and directly to cultural nonprofits through competitive Cultural Development Grants. Grants ranged from a few hundred dollars, awarded through the county/tribal coalitions, to record $35,000 Cultural Development Grants awarded to the state's six largest nonprofit cultural projects.
"The new legislation allows us to be more responsive to the needs of the cultural community," said Rogers. "We will have a greater impact on strengthening Oregon's cultural network in 2016 and beyond."
This year projects supported by the Cultural Trust include:
the renovation of Astoria's Liberty Theater;
the Lan Su Chinese Garden's Chinese New Year Celebration;
a High Desert Museum exhibit exploring the history and cultural legacy of the Works Progress Administration;
the writing and publication of The Art of Ceremony: Conversations with Oregon Tribes by the Hallie Ford Museum at Willamette University;
the expansion of All Classical Public Media's program staff, on-air services and production facilities;
Fishtrap's community-wide Big Read of Thornton Wilder's "Our Town" and "The Bridge of San Luis Rey" in Wallowa County;
Ethos' Music Across Oregon music education in rural communities;
the digitization of and access to interviews of contributors to Oregon's wine industry at Linfield College; and
Oregon Shakespeare Festival's 2016 pairing of "Vietgone" by Qui Nguyen and "The Winter's Tale" by William Shakespeare.
For a full list of Cultural Trust grant projects, visit www.culturaltrust.org.