Salem, Ore. –The majority of Oregon’s cultural organizations are facing suspension of operations or permanent closure due the COVID-19 impact, reveals an Oregon Cultural Trust survey released today.
The most comprehensive survey of Oregon’s cultural community since the crisis began, the survey includes data and comments from 330 cultural nonprofits representing 83 percent of Oregon counties. Participants project a collective loss of $40 million and average losses of $121,281 through June 30. The majority of respondents (54 percent) have annual revenues of less than $250,000 and operate outside of the Portland Metro area.
More than half (51 percent) of respondents have not applied for the federal Payroll Protection Program (PPP), likely due to the fact that 44 percent employ less than one full-time staff member – relying mostly on a volunteer workforce. Of the 49 percent that did apply for PPP, only 73 percent have received funds to-date. More than 90 percent of those that did receive PPP funds report the funding is “not adequate to support their financial losses.”
“The PPP loan is a financial band-aid for the short term, but for us to continue to provide our essential service…there will be a need for continued relief funding well into the next fiscal year and possibly beyond,” reports the Tillicum Foundation, which operates nonprofit radio stations in Astoria, Tillamook and Warrenton.
“Quite frankly right now it looks grim,” reports the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts, “when the PPP monies are gone we may be looking at a ‘staffless’ OCCA for a while.”
Because most cultural organizations rely on large gatherings for ticket and rental revenue, they rank at the top of Oregon business sectors most severely affected by the crisis. They also will be the slowest to reopen, given the indefinite ban on large gatherings due to COVID-19. “Without any earned revenue, we are relying entirely on philanthropy and government support,” reports the Portland Art Museum.
“[Without relief funding,] we will have to close our doors and lose the investment of our community over 30 years,” reports the Gilbert House Children’s Museum in Salem.
The survey also revealed particular hardship for cultural organizations in rural areas. Bend’s High Desert Museum reports that “museums and cultural organizations in more rural areas will be hit hardest immediately and will have a much longer recovery period – we saw this during the recession and the indicators point to a similar pattern now…funding to help organizations like the High Desert Museum be resilient for the next 12-24 months is critical.”
Survey comments also reflect the concern cultural organizations have for the vulnerable populations they serve. The Shadow Project, which provides learning support for children with disabilities, reports that “during COVID-19 these children are even more vulnerable, at highest risk of falling further behind and exacerbated mental health disorders.”
“Underserved rural populations define the youth and families we serve,” reports the Drexel H. Foundation in Vale, where 21 percent of the population lives in poverty. Their outreach programs are “free to all, reducing economic barriers to learning, cultural experiences and art participation for all ethnic groups. Grantors have cancelled funding opportunities we had counted upon….[t]oo many resources have disappeared.”
The Cultural Trust is currently awaiting Legislative consideration of its Emergency Cultural Relief Fund proposal, which would deploy up to $10 million of its $29 million permanent fund to create an emergency relief funding program for Oregon’s cultural organizations.
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Created in 2001 by the Oregon Legislature, the Oregon Cultural Trust is a testimony to how much Oregonians value culture. No other state provides a 100 percent tax credit to inspire cultural giving. As uniquely Oregonian as public beaches and the bottle bill, the Oregon Cultural Trust was established 18 years ago by the Oregon Legislature as an ongoing funding engine for arts and culture across the state. Oregonians fund the Cultural Trust. We, in turn, fund the artists, potters, rappers, acrobats and dreamers who make Oregon, Oregon. In 2017 Oregonians gave $4.9 million to the Cultural Trust, our all-time record. Sixty percent of that went straight back to the field. The remaining 40 percent helped grow our permanent fund. Our three grant programs fund our five Statewide Partners, 45 County and Tribal Coalitions and qualified cultural nonprofits through competitive Cultural Development Grants.