As the Portland metro area celebrates the new year, we count on culture to help ring out the old year and ring in the new. From seasonal favorites in music, theatre and dance, to heritage events at historic homes, to handcrafters’ holiday bazaars, to snow days at Timberline Lodge, the arts, heritage and humanities make for a colorful wintertime here in our region.

The Oregon Cultural Trust celebrates the holidays and new year by enriching the lives of all Oregonians. The Cultural Trust offers increased access to culture by way of a full-bodied grant program that gives away more than $1.5 million each year statewide.

Each county and several of the federally recognized tribes receive Trust grants, which they then re-grant to community projects. In total, the Cultural Trust has granted more than $14 million (in more than 1,000 grants) to nonprofits across Oregon for arts, historic preservation and humanities programming.

Across the Tri-County region, this annual investment leads to increased visitation and local spending, which fuels the economy, especially at the holidays. Investments in education and public programming inspire our children, enhance our quality of life and provide for our future. To that end, the Cultural Trust is building a permanent fund for culture in Oregon, now at $20 million, to ensure future generations can enjoy, learn and prosper from the arts, heritage and humanities that we enjoy today.

In 2013, the Oregon Legislature and thousands of Oregonians gave the Trust a vote of confidence in supporting renewal of its one-of-a-kind state cultural tax credit. In doing so, the Legislature recognized the Trust’s continuing efforts to reach small communities and enrich the lives of Oregonians statewide.

In fiscal year 2014, the Trust invested $63,349 in Multnomah, $47,312 in Washington and $35,324 in Clackamas counties. But that is not all. The Trust also gave competitive development grants to such organizations as Bag & Baggage Productions, Disjecta Interdisciplinary Art Center and Start Making A Reader Today (SMART), among others.

Every year the Trust gives money to programs like the Oregon Poet Laureate, who has traveled nearly 30,000 miles across the state since 2010; to Oregon Humanities Think & Drink programs; to Oregon Historical Society’s education program; and Portland Opera to Go, which makes appearances around the metro region and beyond.

We can continue a season of giving. As we log our donations to the nonprofits that keep our community healthy, vibrant and strong, please also give to the Oregon Cultural Trust! The recently renewed state cultural tax credit allows donors to “donate (to eligible nonprofits), match (with a gift to the Trust), get the whole match back (up to $500 per individual, $1,000 per married couple and $2,500 per Class-C corporation each calendar year).”

As a successful business owner with clients statewide, who splits time between Portland and The Dalles; and as a long-time Portland resident and president of a large utility’s charitable giving foundation, we are proud to support the Cultural Trust, both as donors and as public servants on its board. The Trust is a win-win for us all, and for all of Oregon — our ability to preserve our past history, to bolster our present economy, and to keep ours a great state for our children and our future.

Lee Weinstein is president of Weinstein PR, and Carole Morse is president of the PGE Foundation. Both serve on the board of the Oregon Cultural Trust.

Contract Publishing

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