Oregon Emergency Board

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: