September 15, 2020

Oregon Arts and Culture Relief Update

By: Jerry Tischleder
Senior Program Officer, Arts and Culture

In July, I wrote about ways that OCF and other partners were supporting arts and culture organizations across the state hard hit by COVID-19. Now that we’ve finished distributing the available funding from the Oregon Arts and Culture Recovery Program, I thought it might be helpful to recap the results of that work and share more about what might come next.

From a numbers perspective the Oregon Arts and Culture Recovery Program was an impressive effort, with seven collaborating funders and 16 individual donors contributing nearly $4 million. Nine community review committees across the state made recommendations for general operating support to 396 grantees out of 461 applicants.

From the applications received, we identified 309 proposals that clearly addressed the stated priorities of serving disproportionally impacted communities or acting as a hub for smaller organizations, unincorporated groups, and/or individual artists in a meaningful way. It was incredibly encouraging to see so many nonprofits crafting competitive proposals to meet important community needs.

We know the support provided through this program doesn’t meet the roughly $11 million requested and those requests represent only a fraction of the losses in revenue that continue to mount throughout the state. In reviewing these applications, I was inspired to learn about the multiple ways that creative Oregonians are responding to challenging circumstances and finding ways to deliver innovative adaptations of arts programs to the community despite challenges created by social distancing.

I’d like to give a special thank you to our volunteer community review team members who brought their voices and perspectives to the review process in their regions. I personally led review teams in the Portland metro area, Central Oregon and Eastern Oregon that incorporated community members’ expertise and passion to direct resources in the most impactful and equitable way possible.

Of course, there were many worthy proposals that we were not able to fund and we’re hopeful more supporters step forward to offer additional resources. We are still accepting contributions to the Oregon Arts and Culture Recovery Fund, so please consider donating if you can. There are many organizations that still have significant needs and we’re committed to using all available funds to continue supporting vibrant, creative communities across the state.

I’d also like to give a HUGE shout out to the partners who contributed funds and countless hours towards this group effort: The Collins Foundation, James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust, Regional Arts & Culture Council, The Reser Family Foundation, The Harold & Arlene Schnitzer CARE Foundation/Jordan Schnitzer, and the many individual donors at OCF who make our work possible.

We continue to explore strategies to distribute relief funds to individual artists across the state. I’m hopeful that we’ll have more information toward that end to announce soon. We’re also in discussion with OCF stakeholders about the ongoing needs and how we might continue to respond. At this point no decisions have been made on which grant programs might resume in 2021 or whether those funds might be directed towards more relief efforts. Stay tuned as we’ll share any more news as soon as possible.

 Photo: Crow’s Shadow Institute of the Arts, an Oregon Arts and Culture Recovery Program grantee.