With budget cuts looming over school-based art programs, the announcement of grant awards supporting local arts and culture organizations may provide a small, but significant cushion for the blow now being felt by the community.
Seven culturally significant projects and organizations were selected to receive more than $7,500 in supporting grants in 2011 by the Hood River Cultural Trust Coalition.
"These types of projects are so enriching for our community," said Bill Sturman, chair of the HRCT. "In times of cutbacks, the arts and humanities are the first things to be cut. These grants by way of the Oregon Cultural Trust program were created to be a bulwark against those cuts."
With a mission to maintain and increase cultural expression featuring arts, heritage and humanities, the Cultural Trust is working to strengthen and preserve valuable resources in Hood River.
The grant awards specifically increase public access to and public participation in culture based events and programs, and strengthen these organizations' ability to create these public experiences.
The Cultural Trust received 11 applications for grants this year. Of the seven funded, some received only partial funding from their original requests.
Financial resources for the grants come to the county from the Oregon Cultural Trust. Dollar amounts available for grants each year are determined by public contributions to the Trust the year preceding the awards.
Grant awardees, their project descriptions and funding levels are as follows:
• Columbia Arts - to produce "Get Centered," a month-long, fifth anniversary celebration of Columbia Arts programs in the community - $1,000;
• Columbia Arts in Education - to produce "This I Believe: The Arts in My Community," a writing project involving local middle and high school students engaging in creative expression around the topic of culture in their lives - $1,500;
• Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association - to bring guest professional musicians to serve as concert masters and in other mentorship roles in lead string positions during the current Sinfonietta performance season - $1,800;
• Gorge Music Series - to support live concerts and the Columbia Gorge Fiddle Contest, along with school assemblies, and workshops - $1,000;
• Nuestra Comunidad Sana, a program of The Next Door Inc. - to support the annual "Avanzando" celebration honoring achievements of Latino community members in work, business and education - $1,050;
• Scarlet Thistle Studio - to produce "Ruby Dreams," an evening of traditional and contemporary interpretations of belly dance styles - $200;
• St. Francis House of Odell - to support a Sacred Plants of Latin America Garden Project, involving youth researching, planning, building, planting, caring for, and harvesting organic garden beds featuring traditional food and medicinal plants - $1,020.
These grants, though not hefty in total dollars, make a large community impact, according to the recipients.
"We are making progress and all of our music ensembles continue to evolve. This grant will be a major contributor to our continued efforts and success," said Mark Steighner, music director of the Columbia Gorge Orchestra Association.
Guidelines for the grants and information about the local Cultural Trust program and grants may be found at the Hood River Cultural Trust website at hoodriverculturaltrust.org.
The Oregon Cultural Trust program was created by the Oregon Legislature in 2001 to help build a permanent endowment fund to support Oregon's arts, heritage, and humanities, and to provide grants to improve public participation in cultural endeavors and reward excellence in the field.
Money from the state fund is annually distributed to the 36 counties and nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon, where local coalitions distribute grants to local organizations.
The Oregon Cultural Trust provides special tax credits to donors. If taxpayers make a donation to a listed Oregon cultural nonprofit and an equal contribution to the Oregon Cultural Trust, a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for the gift to the Trust can then be claimed on the Oregon state income tax return (up to $500 for individuals, $1,000 for couples filing jointly and $2,500 for Oregon corporations).
Fourteen Hood River nonprofits are on the tax credit option list and may be found on the Oregon Cultural Trust website at www.culturaltrust.org.