Lincoln City’s big culture boost

A $1.5 million state grant will transform the Cultural Center plaza. Other grants help projects in Bend, Beaverton, Portland, Cottage Grove.

Lincoln City got some welcome news Tuesday evening with the announcement from Rep. David Gomberg, D-District 10, that the Oregon State Legislature has awarded the Lincoln City Cultural Center a $1.5 million grant for its Cultural Plaza Project. The work will transform the 2.5 acres surrounding the historic building. The Cultural Plaza was one of five projects approved by the Cultural Advocacy Coalition. Other projects to be funded include Oregon Nikkei Legacy Center in Portland ($500,000), High Desert Museum in Bend ($250,000), Cottage Theatre in Cottage Grove ($375,000) and the Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in Beaverton ($1.5 million).

We talked with Lincoln City Cultural Center director Niki Price about the grant and what it means to the Center.

OAW: You call this a game changer. Why is that?

NP: It’s a game-changer in that it will enable us to prepare for groundbreaking on the Cultural Plaza Project in 2020. Before we got this money we had a fundraising plan that took us to about two-thirds of the way to the $1.8 million project. This is not just an idea anymore; this is really happening. That’s why we called it a game-changer. This pledge from the legislature is taking us from dream to reality.

OAW: So you still have fundraising to do?

NP: We do. The first thing we hope everyone understands is when we put our budget forth, we told them we would be raising $250,000, so that’s a promise we have to keep.  We also have some other small grants, but we still have to raise $250,000 from individual contributors.  What that means is if people would like their name on a brick or a bench or a seating area or anything else, now is the time to get in.

OAW: What are some of the design highlights of the project, and why is it necessary?

NP:  The grounds around the Cultural Center haven’t really changed since this was a school – originally built in 1929. So while we spent the last 12 years improving the Cultural Center inside, the area around still looks like an old school yard and it’s in pretty poor shape. The project will surround the center with pedestrian-friendly spaces where they can gather and enjoy arts programs. One of our favorite design features is a meandering path from north to south and across the west lawn. It’s going to be drivable as well as accessible  so that vendors with the arts and crafts fairs and our Farmers and Crafters Market can load and unload. The Farmers Market is one of the most successful events that happens here. But everything the Farmers Market does has to be brought in by hand, and it’s hard. We know this design would not be successful if it didn’t have improvements for the Market. Also along the path, there is going to access to electrical, water, lighting and all the things you would need to have a successful art fair on the  front of our lawn.

OAW: How did you make this happen?

NP:  This funding began last year when the Cultural Advocacy Coalition asked for applications for grants from the Cultural Resources Economic Fund. Every biennium the legislature sets aside some money for these infrastructure projects that will benefit the arts culture. The Coalition takes applications for projects that are shovel-ready.  We found out we were on the short list last fall. And then the Legislature was in session and it was our job to advocate. We wrote letters and asked members to write and contacted our legislators. On Cultural Advocacy Day, there were five of us from Lincoln City at the state capital and we made all the rounds and saw as many people as we could to talk about this project.  We had a two-day Arts and Culture Advocacy effort. It was a real honor to be there with the really cool people with other projects. The Patricia Reser Center for the Arts in Beaverton is going to be an amazing project.  it was just really a great experience and we were really thankful to have it.

OAW: You received one of two $1.5 million grants, the largest awarded. Why do you think your project was so appealing?

NP: I think the allure was that with this one allocation this project could be completed. Whereas with other bigger projects, the legislative money was just a small portion. For us, it really makes it happen and it enables us to have more freedom to really do it well instead of in the most inexpensive way possible. It allows us to think about public art and great design elements. I think the Legislature knew that. They knew $1.5 million is a large gift for Lincoln City and it can really make things happen for us. We are just completely in the debt of Rep. Gomberg for fighting for this project. It’s going to make a big difference for us.

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For more, go to: lincolncityculturalcenter.org/plaza.

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This story is supported in part by a grant from the Oregon Cultural Trust, investing in Oregon’s arts, humanities and heritage, and the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition.

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