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Oregon Arts Commission denies Washington County Museum $3,500 grant

Group decides local nonprofit doesn't invest in arts enough

The Washington County Museum won’t be receiving a grant from the Oregon Arts Commission this year — a grant the museum received last year — after the commission ruled that it and several other former grant winners weren’t invested enough in the arts.

Last year, the Washington County Museum received $3,500 as part of the Oregon Arts Commission’s operating support and arts learning grant.

But in March, as the museum was preparing to apply again for the grant, officials received a letter denying eligibility, and adding the commission had ruled art must be a core mission of an organization in order to receive grant funding.

The Washington County Museum wasn’t alone. The High Desert Museum in central Oregon and Oregon Public Broadcasting also were told they would no longer receive grant funding from the commission, according to the Associated Press.

“I understand their perspective and their decision,” said Mark Harmon, executive director for the Washington County Museum.

Harmon said the grant’s loss would not have a serious impact on the museum.

“The challenge for any nonprofit is that a lot of foundations and funds are refining their criteria, making funding more challenging to obtain,” Harmon said.

The museum relies on grant funding and donations from the community in order to keep going, Harmon said.

This week, the arts commission informed the museum that it wasn’t cutting them off completely.

This year, the museum is expected to receive $1,750 in “phase out” funding, Harmon said. The money is meant to help organizations that previously qualified for the grants wean themselves off.

“Every little bit helps,” Harmon said.

The loss of the Oregon Arts Commission grant bring the need for community support into the spotlight, he said.

“We deeply depend on the support of the community, both individuals and corporations,” Harmon said. “We cannot fully reach our potential without the support of the communities that we serve.

“Our hope is that everybody who lives in Washington County would become a member or a donor or help in some form or fashion. Some people donate as low as $50, others in [the] hundreds or thousands.”