Oy! More on the Oregon Cultural Trust

Tuesday's episode of "Think Out Loud" on OPB Radio will cover the topic of arts funding, with the theft of Cultural Trust funds dangled as a teaser. The episode, which airs at 9:00 a.m. on 91.5 (as if our readers need to be told the frequency) is titled "The Art of Hard Times."

The OPB website does not give any hints about scheduled guests. I wonder if we'll hear from Doug Stamm at the Meyer Memorial Trust. In his Oregonian column this morning ("Who Took the Trust Out of the Cultural Trust"), Barry Johnson quotes Mr. Stamm's response to the Oregon legislature's move to purloin $1.8 million from the Cultural Trust. The Meyer Trust (the legacy of Fred Meyer) has supported the Oregon Cultural Trust with big grants to underwrite efforts to raise public awareness and encourage contributions. Stamm said he was "perplexed and frustrated" by the legislature's move:

The citizens of Oregon made specific contributions to a fund and now it's being moved to fix potholes and build prisons, which may be worthy but aren't what the money was for ... It breaks the bond of faith between the Cultural Trust and its contributors, through no fault of the trust, because of actions by the Legislature."

I believe the Meyer Trust is still the largest private foundation in Oregon, so it will be interesting to see what kind of clout it has on this topic, should its leaders choose to lean on our legislators. I'd call in to the show, but I'll be driving to Salem in the morning on a non-arts related task involving armed robbery (literally), on which I will report later. (How's that for a teaser)?

Also, our friends at the Regional Arts and Culture Council(RACC) and the new Creative Advocacy Network (CAN) are calling for arts advocates to show up at City Hall on Thursday, March 12, 2008 (2:00 to 3:00 pm) to lend moral support as RACC gives its “State of the Arts” presentation to City Council. I suspect the turnout will be high and folks will be pumped up -- one positive legacy of the Cultural Trust debacle.


Unknown said...

As it turns out, I was one of the studio guests, along with Paul King of White Bird (I got the invitation yesterday afternoon) and while I'm not sure how things sounded to listeners -- I can never tell on these things whether I'm making good points or stumbling around like a verbal drunk -- I was impressed with the hosts, who were smart, well-prepared, fair, and quick on their feet. Radio's a different beast. In print and online I can ramble. On the air you need to be succinct -- and you need to be quick enough to be succinct about the right things. It's easy to get off on a tangent and never get around to saying what really should be said. Thanks to OPB for inviting me, and for tackling the issue. The next few mornings the program will be looking at state taxation issues, which are vital to this argument: With a more rational tax system, the state wouldn't be in such a bad budget pickle, and maybe the Cultural Trust fund wouldn't have been raided.

culturejock said...

Good job, Bob. I agree that the state's inadequate tax structure is an underlying condition that must be addressed, but I still don't understand how legislators are missing the ethical conflict here. (As you say, they may have made sure they had solid LEGAL grounds to take this action.) I also don't understand why the Trust itself doesn't think this is a big deal, but oh well, I've got bigger fish to fry then, too.

Oh can I just say that donations to another innovative arts donation program, Work for Art, are completely safe? Thank god RACC is an independent 501(c)(3) from which donations cannot be stolen.

culturejock said...

I just listened to this again (I'm home sick today, a glutton for more punishment) and I am amazed by the trite and condescending remarks offered by Rep. Mary Nolan. To say "there are no guarantees" on how Trust dollars will be spent just puts more nails in their coffin. But isn't that nice that she drove to work today in a car with Cultural Trust license plates?

MightyToyCannon said...

Like CJ, I just finished listening to the show, which is available to either stream or download at OPB. I agree that Rep. Nolan's response was weak, but then so was Chris D'Arcy's on behalf of the Arts Commission. I know the Commission is in a delicate political position and required, as a state agency, to fall dutifully into line ... still, I wanted a stronger statement and little less spin.

The other member of the MTC household reported that she only heard bits and pieces of the show this morning. She did point out that there was at least one smart person who made some good comments about valuing arts jobs. As she listened to the full show with me online this evening, that smart guy turned out to be Bob Hicks.

culturejock said...

Yes, Bob made some fantastic broader points. Also, I hear that the Oregon Arts Commission is about to release an official statement; it will be interesting to hear how strongly it's worded, and what the "official" next steps are going to be.

And, I just saw a preview for KGW's 6:30 newscast, which will spotlight this issue in a segment called "Art Outrage."

culturejock said...

MTC: Will you be live-blogging all of the exciting action at tomorrow's State of the Arts report? ;)

MightyToyCannon said...

Ha! I just spotted this comment. I wish I could have been live blogging. That would have been fun, though I think the blogging (or tweeting) encourages an extra dose of snarkiness. Lord knows I lean that way too much already. You have probably noted that I did post a quick report within about 45 minutes of the end of the meeting.