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Help cultivate culture and jobs in Oregon

Oregon’s culture — and not coincidentally, its economy — can take additional strides forward if the state’s legislators and citizens act upon two separate opportunities in coming weeks.

The most immediate of these opportunities arrives with the end of the year and the chance for taxpayers to make a donation to the Oregon Cultural Trust — a gift that will cost the contributor essentially nothing.

The second opportunity involves legislative reauthorization of the cultural trust tax credit. We’ll talk more about that in a minute.

But first, we urge Oregonians to consider the benefits of making a gift to the cultural trust prior to Dec. 31 so that they can get that money back when they file their 2012 tax returns. Under the program created by the Legislature a decade ago, people who support arts and culture can give up to $500 to the trust, and then receive a dollar-for-dollar tax credit.

Support a local group

Before making a donation to the trust, however, people must first contribute to one of more than 1,300 cultural nonprofits in Oregon. The list of eligible organizations includes theater companies, college foundations, historical societies, military museums and many similar group with arts- or culture-related missions. These nonprofit groups can be found in every town or city in the Portland area — from Lake Oswego to Forest Grove, and from Estacada Oswego to Beaverton.

If, for example, a Lake Oswego resident makes a donation to the Lake Oswego Adult Community Center Foundation or the Lake Oswego School District Foundation, he or she then can donate the same amount to the Oregon Cultural Trust and get the tax credit. (To give online, go to culturaltrust.org.) The money collected by the trust then is reinvested in cultural groups and activities throughout the state.

Legislature should renew program

This latter activity — the awarding of grants — brings us back to the second opportunity mentioned above. This one awaits the Oregon Legislature’s regular session in January, when lawmakers will consider whether to continue several tax-credit programs.

The case for renewing the cultural trust tax credit is a strong one. In its first decade, the trust already has distributed more than $12.5 million to hundreds of cultural groups in Oregon.

These trust grants are valuable beyond their beneficial effect on arts and culture. They also stimulate economic activity. Arts and culture groups employ people. They engage the services of suppliers and other businesses. And they bring visitors to communities who in turn spend money at shops and restaurants.

One recent study documented that Oregon’s culture economy is tied to 19,000 jobs. These are jobs that cannot be outsourced — they stay in Oregon.

The cultural trust is designed in such a way that each dollar raised is multiplied many times over. Grants must be matched, and they attract additional funding from out-of-state foundations.

For a very small amount of foregone tax revenue — an estimated $9 million out of a $16.5 billion biennial budget — the cultural trust will have an outsized, but positive, effect on the Oregon economy. Legislators should vote next year to continue this uniquely Oregon method of cultivating both culture and jobs.

Affiliated groups in Lake Oswego

AAW Corp. — 1117 Spruce St.. Lake Oswego 97034-6153 (503-636-8662)

Arts Council of Lake Oswego — P.O. Box 369, Lake Oswego 97034 (503-675-3738 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / web lofa.org)

Friends of the Lake Oswego Public Library — 706 S.W. Fourth St., Lake Oswego 97034 (503-636-7628 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )

Friends of William Stafford — P.O. Box 592, Lake Oswego 97034 ( This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / web williamstafford.org)

Lake Oswego Adult Community Center Foundation — 505 G Ave., Lake Oswego 97034 (503-635-3758)

Lake Oswego Millennium Concert Band — 5225 S.W. Dawn, Lake Oswego 97035 (503-603-0511 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / web lakeoswegoband.org)

Lake Oswego School District Foundation — P.O. Box 70, Lake Oswego 97034-0070 (503-534-2302 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / web losdfoundation.org

Lakewood Center for the Arts — P.O. Box 274, Lake Oswego 97034 (503-635-3901 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / web lakewood-center.org)

Novum Cantorum — P.O. Box 1228, Lake Oswego 97035 (web novumchambersingers.org)

Oswego Heritage Council Inc. — P.O. Box 1041, Lake Oswego 97034 (503-635-6373 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / oswegoheritage.org)

Portland Shakespeare Project — 4770 Avery Lane, Lake Oswego 97035 (503-313-3048 / This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. / web portlandshakespeareproject.org)

Western Water Ski Museum Inc. — 16820 Allen Road, Lake Oswego 97035 (503-227-6226)




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