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Oregon Cultural Trust

History of the Oregon Cultural Trust

Culture has always been important to Oregonians and the movement to increase resources for cultural development in Oregon began in with the Oregon Arts and Culture Summit in Portland. Since then, two task forces, appointed by the Governor and jointly by the Governor and Legislature, have worked to develop priorities and policy recommendations. In 1999. The Governor and Legislature created the Culture Trust Fund Investment Account, a mechanism through which funding for culture can flow, and appointed the Joint Interim Task Force on Cultural Development. The task force formed the current plan and designed it based on extensive statewide input, including public forums in 12 communities and a survey of close to 20,000 citizens.

The Oregon Cultural Trust is supported by progressive enabling legislation. Passed by the Oregon Legislature in 2001 session, House Bill (HB2923) provides funding for Oregon’s Trust for Cultural Development. The bill is the culmination of more than two years work by statewide arts, humanities, heritage and historic preservation leaders to increase collaboration and funding for cultural initiatives.

HB 2923 was sponsored by a bi-partisan group of legislators including cultural task force members Rep. Ben Westlund (R-Tumalo) and Sen. Lee Beyer (D-Springfield). It established a tax credit for direct contributions to the Oregon Trust for Cultural Development, a long-term public/private funding initiative designed to preserve and strengthen culture for all Oregonians. Funding for the Trust also comes from revenue derived for the sale of a “cultural” license plate and from the state-owned surplus assets.

What the Oregon Cultural Trust does:

The Cultural Trust is a statewide cultural plan to raise significant new funds to invest in Oregon’s arts, humanities and heritage

Funds will be distributed to local communities to support their cultural priorities, through competitive grants for projects of regional and statewide significance, and through grants to Oregon’s statewide cultural agencies to support their ongoing efforts.

The Oregon Cultural Trust was created by civic, business and cultural leaders to preserve and strengthen every aspect of Oregon culture. Its goal is to create a protected endowment of over $200 million to provide long-term support for culture in Oregon. While the endowment grows, the Trust will invest in:

  • Grants to county and tribal planning groups for cultural activities and priorities, helping them shape programs that increase access to culture.
  • Grants to expand and stabilize cultural organizations throughout the state.
  • Funding for cultural agencies to strengthen programs and support new partnerships (our partner agencies are the Oregon Arts Commission, the Oregon Council for the Humanities, the Oregon Heritage Commission, the Oregon Historical Society and the State Historic Preservation Office)

Supporting Oregon’s culture makes practical sense. As an investment, it creates vibrant communities by strengthening the economy, improving education, and bettering our quality of life.

Why the Oregon Cultural Trust is unique:

The Oregon Cultural Trust is a unique organization because we are an example of direct legislative democracy in action.

By taking advantage of the Oregon Cultural Trust tax credit citizens are in a sense placing a vote for the support of culture in Oregon. The Oregon Cultural Trust tax credit is a result of progressive history and enabling legislation here in Oregon that allows citizens to support cultural in Oregon in a meaningful way.

When you take advantage of the Oregon Cultural tax credit you are communicating that you want your tax dollars to support culture throughout Oregon and the money goes directly towards this purpose. Using cultural tax credit is a vote to support Oregon’s arts, heritage and humanities.

The Board of the Oregon Cultural Trust adopted the vision, mission and goals of the Trust based on the Oregon statutes that established it:

Our Vision 

 Oregon’s cultural resources – the arts, heritage and the humanities – are strong and dynamic contributors to Oregon’s communities and quality of life.

 To enhance the lives of Oregonians by implementing a sustainable public-private integrated cultural funding program that will support, stabilize and protect Oregon culture: the humanities, heritage and the arts. The Trust will expand public awareness of, quality of, access to and use of culture in Oregon.

Our Mission


Here are Some of our Goals:
  • To increase public private support for culture through the creation of incentives for the development of new funds and resources; tax credit, other revenue streams.
  • To address significant opportunities to advance, preserve or stabilize cultural resources; Culture Development Grants.
  • To build cultural participation across cultural disciplines and organizations; Cultural Participation Grants.
  • To increase understanding of the value of cultural development and participation to Oregonians; Benchmarks and evaluation, communication, return on investment.