art donations

Giving that’s too good to be true

Donations to the Oregon Cultural Trust are a painless way to support arts on the coast and around the state, but you have to act by Dec. 31

The Lincoln County Cultural Coalition recently named this year’s grant recipients, including (thank you) Oregon ArtsWatch. We talked with Niki Price, co-chair of the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition as well as vice chair of the Oregon Cultural Trust, about funding art in coastal communities, the state’s role, and why these coming weeks are so important.

You mentioned this is an important time of year for funding the arts. Why?

Niki Price, co-chair of the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition and vice chair of the Oregon Cultural Trust, says of donating to the trust, “Once we convince a donor to do it once, we rarely have to resell that donor. Once you try it, you’re in.”
Niki Price, co-chair of the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition and vice chair of the Oregon Cultural Trust, says of donating to the trust, “Once we convince a donor to do it once, we rarely have to resell that donor. Once you try it, you’re in.”

Niki Price: The money for the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition grants comes from donations by thousands of Oregonians, through the Oregon Cultural Trust. And the deadline for donating to the trust is Dec. 31. This is a uniquely Oregonian way of funding arts, culture, heritage, and humanities. 

People in Oregon donate to the Oregon Cultural Trust, and the trust distributes money to cultural coalitions across the state. The trust works in two ways. First, it incentivizes giving at the local level for arts and culture, because that’s the first step. You match your local gift with a donation to the trust, and those donations are used statewide. For example, say my husband and I give our annual donations to our local favorites: the Lincoln City Cultural Center, Theatre West, and the North Lincoln County Historical Museum. Together, those donations total $500. In the same calendar year, by Dec. 31, we match those combined donations with a $500 gift to the Oregon Cultural Trust. When we file our 2019 taxes in April 2020, we check the box that indicates we gave to the trust, and that $500 is deducted from our state tax bill.

Then the cultural trust gathers up those donations — $4.5 million last year. In accordance with statute, 40 percent is invested in the permanent cultural trust fund. A small amount goes to administration, and the rest is distributed through cultural partners, in competitive grants, and through the cultural coalition system. There are cultural coalitions in every county, and they receive a distribution based on their population. But there’s a minimum amount, so counties with the smallest populations often receive more per capita than the metro areas.

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