Oregon arts get $50 million boost

The state's cultural sector gets a much-need lift as part of the Legislative Emergency Board's $200 million Covid-19 economic lifeline

The Oregon Legislature’s Joint Emergency Board voted more than $200 million on Tuesday for Covid-19 relief, including a $50 million package for arts and cultural organizations and venues throughout the state. Today’s emergency grants target “struggling workers, small businesses and Oregonians facing the deepest and most disparate impacts of the pandemic,” according to a press statement from Oregon House Democrats.

The arts and cultural grants break down in two main packages: $24,015,128 directly to arts organizations, cultural and community venues, and community colleges; $25,984,872 to the Oregon Business Development Department to deliver to other music, culture, and community venues not receiving direct grants under the request. The Oregon Cultural Trust will allocate and distribute those funds to county and tribal cultural coalitions, which will then redistribute them to local organizations and venues.

The $50 million comes at a vital time for the state’s cultural organizations, most of which have been deeply wounded by lost income because of pandemic shutdowns. While it can’t come close to solving all of the cultural sector’s financial emergency, it is a necessary and welcome lifeline that will help keep many organizations afloat as they seek other funding to stabilize.

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, which has been shut down for most of its 2020 season, receives $4.71 million in emergency funds. Above, the 2017 production of “The Merry Wives of Windsor” on the outdoor Allen Elizabethan Theatre. Photo: Kim Budd

Among the large institutional awards:

  • Oregon Shakespeare Festival: $4.71 million
  • Metro, which operates Portland’5 Centers for the Arts and other venues: $4.1 million
  • Oregon Symphony: $1.75 million
  • Portland Center Stage at The Armory: $875,000
  • Portland Opera: $875,000
  • High Desert Museum, Bend: $700,000
  • Oregon Ballet Theatre: $630,000
  • Pendleton Round-Up: $375,000
  • Oregon Coast Community College: $375,000

In addition, $9,680,128 of the $24 million fund will go directly to cultural venues across the state. Those allocations are calculated to provide seven months of base costs for rent or mortgage, utilities, and necessary personnel to keep the venue operating. The breakout by venue is in the final section of this report.

The Emergency Board’s $200 million allocation, of which the $50 million in cultural aid is a significant part, also includes:

  • Oregon Cares Fund for Black Relief and Resiliency, providing relief to Black individuals and Black-owned businesses, which national and state data show are being disproportionately hit by the Covid-19 crisis: $62 million
  • Emergency Relief Checks of $500 each to individuals who have not yet received their benefits from the state’s severely backlogged unemployment system: $35 million
  • Emergency assistance for small businesses with 25 or fewer employees that have not received support under the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) or other provisions of the federal CARES Act: $25.6 million
  • Warm Springs Reservation, for much-needed infrastructure and improvement to water and wastewater systems: $3.58 million

The $50 million in cultural emergency funds comes from an increase in the federal funds limitation for the Department of Administrative Services that was established on April 23. It comes after a concerted lobbying effort by individuals and cultural organizations.

“For the countless Oregonians struggling during this time, whether they are waiting on unemployment insurance, trying to figure how to keep their business open, or are experiencing the disproportionate impacts of deep-seated racial inequality, today will hopefully provide some small measure of relief,” House Majority Leader Barbara Smith Warner, D-Portland, said in the press statement. “The work of the Legislature’s Emergency Board over the last several months has been focused on getting resources to Oregonians as quickly as possible, because they need help now. While we recognize that these are just small steps forward, we will continue to work together over the coming months to best utilize whatever resources we have at our disposal to build a better Oregon for all.”

Cynthia Fuhrman, managing director of Portland Center Stage, put it succinctly on Tuesday afternoon. “It was a good day,” she said.


Independent Venues Receiving Emergency Relief


The first figure in each listing is the venue’s monthly allocation. The second figure is its total allocation. Each venue is identified as private, nonprofit, or government:

Aladdin Theatre $71,000 / $497,000 PRIVATE
Alberta Rose Theatre $28,420 / $198,940 PRIVATE
Artichoke Music $7,555 / $52,885 NONPROFIT
Ashland Armory $35,848 / $250,936 PRIVATE
Atlantis Lounge $11,800 / $82,600 PRIVATE
Barnstormers Theatre $3,700 / $25,900 NONPROFIT
BodyVox $6,566 / $45,962 NONPROFIT
Bossa Nova $17,200 / $120,400 PRIVATE
Britt Festival Pavilion $17,683 / $123,781 NONPROFIT
Cascades Theatre Company $8,800 / $61,600 NONPROFIT
Coaster Theatre Playhouse $3,700 / $25,900 NONPROFIT
Coho Productions $3,515 / $24,605 NONPROFIT
Cottage Theatre $6,315 / $44,205 NONPROFIT
Crystal Ballroom $75,202 / $526,414 PRIVATE
Cuthbert Amphitheater $28,311 / $198,177 PRIVATE
Dantes $27,300 / $191,100 PRIVATE
Domino Room $5,300 / $37,100 PRIVATE
Doug Fir $38,414 / $268,898 PRIVATE
Egyptian Theatre $7,400 / $51,800 NONPROFIT
Elgin Opera House $8,033 / $56,231 NONPROFIT
Elsinore Theatre (Historic) $28,800 / $201,600 NONPROFIT
Gallery Theatre $4,500 / $31,500 NONPROFIT
Hawthorne Theater $45,100 / $315,700 PRIVATE
Headwaters Theatre/Water in the Desert $3,525 / $24,675 NONPROFIT
Historic Rogue Theatre $8,000 / $56,000 NONPROFIT
Holocene $29,300 / $205,100 PRIVATE
HQ LaGrande $1,135 / 7,945 PRIVATE
Hult Center for the Performing Arts $53,500 / $374,500 GOVT
Imago Theatre $10,467 / $73,269 NONPROFIT
Jack London Revue $9,160 / $64,120 PRIVATE
Jazz Station/Willamette Jazz Society $3,000 / $21,000 NONPROFIT
KALA Astoria $2,000 / $14,000 PRIVATE
Kellys Olympian $5,200 / $36,400 PRIVATE
Kickstand Comedy (formerly Brody Theater) $8,705 / $60,935 NONPROFIT
Lakewood Center for the Performing Arts $12,000 / $84,000 NONPROFIT
Laurelthirst $8,120 / $56,840 PRIVATE
Liberty Theater $8,855 $61,985 NONPROFIT
Lincoln City Cultural Center $4,500 / $31,500 NONPROFIT
Little Theatre on the Bay / Liberty Theatre (North Bend) $12,025 / $84,175 NONPROFIT
Majestic Theatre $13,500 / $94,500 GOVT
McDonald Theater $30,405 / $212,835 PRIVATE
Midtown Ballroom $8,400 / $58,800 PRIVATE
Milagro Theatre $3,673 / $25,711 NONPROFIT
Mississippi Studios $42,007 / $294,049 PRIVATE
NEW Expressive Works $3,583 / $25,081 NONPROFIT
Newport Performing Arts Center (2 stages) $15,800 / $110,600 NONPROFIT
Northwest Children’s Theater $11,500 / $80,500 NONPROFIT
OK Theater $2,500 / $17,500 PRIVATE
Old Church Concert Hall $12,500 / $87,500 NONPROFIT
Oregon Contemporary Theatre $7,400 / $51,800 NONPROFIT
Pentacle Theatre $3,763 / $26,341 NONPROFIT
PICA $26,819 / $187,733 NONPROFIT
Pickathon $60,733 / $425,131 PRIVATE
Polaris Hall $26,242 / $183,694 PRIVATE
Portland Playhouse $12,183 / $85,281 NONPROFIT
Revolution Hall $62,042 / $434,294 PRIVATE
Roseland Theater $69,442 / $486,094 PRIVATE
Ross Ragland Theater $34,463 / $241,241 NONPROFIT
Sawdust Theatre $1,000 / $7,000 NONPROFIT
Sessions $26,005 / $182,035 PRIVATE
Shaking the Tree Theatre $9,007 / $63,049 NONPROFIT
Shedd Institute for the Performing Arts $52,691 / $368,837 NONPROFIT
Stage 722 $25,679 / $179,753 PRIVATE
Star Theater $21,500 / $150,500 PRIVATE
The Belfry $5,380 / $37,660 PRIVATE
The Goodfoot $8,800 / $61,600 PRIVATE
The Siren Theater $5,900 / $41,300 PRIVATE
Theatre in the Grove $3,700 / $25,900 NONPROFIT
Theatre Vertigo (The Shoebox) $2,625 / $18,375 NONPROFIT
Tony Starlight $7,346 / $51,422 PRIVATE
Vault Theater (Bag and Baggage) $8,917 / $62,419 NONPROFIT
Volcanic Theater $7,214 / $50,501 PRIVATE
White Eagle $16,636 / $116,452 PRIVATE
Whiteside Theatre $5,300 / $37,100 NONPROFIT
Wildish Community Theater $8,575 / $60,025 NONPROFIT
Wonder Ballroom $38,791 / $271,537 PRIVATE
WOW Hall/Community Center for the Performing Arts $10,900 / $76,300 NONPROFIT
TOTAL $1,382,875 / $9,680,128

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