Each biennium the cultural sector approaches the Oregon Legislature for funds to support capital projects that broaden access to creative expression for all Oregonians. These funds are frequently referred to as Cultural Resource Economic Fund (CREF) and include lottery backed-bonds as well as general fund dollars and appropriations through the Department of Administrative Services.

Since 2013, the Coalition has successfully advocated for over $13 million in state proceeds, which have been used to support capital projects of cultural institutions. This funding leverages art and cultural resources to create vibrant public spaces that integrate art and cultural and natural amenities, sustain Oregon’s rich arts and cultural experiences, and enhance a strong sense of place and community identity. Previously funded capital construction projects and grantees of the Cultural Resource Economic Fund (CREF) are listed on our website.

We caught up with Coalition Board of Directors member and the Director of City of Eugene Cultural Services, Isaac Marquez, on the current state of the fund and the Coaliton’s role in advocating for the future of Oregon’s capital projects.

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Anchored by place and dependent on audience, the cultural sector is discovering first-hand what it means to have locked doors and no audiences. Oregon’s cultural sector dots our urban and rural landscape with cultural institutions who own, rent and operate theaters, museums, galleries and classrooms.

As a child I distinctly remember the feeling of being awe-inspired by the architecture inside the Portland Art Museum. As an arts administrator I am reminded of the important role we play as stewards of these venues during our educational performances – when 1,800 school age children audibly gasp as they enter the four-story tall lobby of the Hult Center for the Performing Arts in Eugene. 

Since 2013 the Cultural Advocacy Coalition has successfully endorsed 27 statewide projects. Project funding directed at capital needs, which assist arts and culture institutions, succeed in their mission. This year, the pandemic changed almost everything and we wondered if there would be enough interest. To our surprise, 42 organizations submitted a letter of inquiry, proving that our focus as a sector is not only on survival, but many of us also have an eye on ongoing stewardship and investments for the future.

Each day, it seems, we learn something new about the pandemic, about our ability to reopen and return to civic life. As an advocacy coalition, we keep our ear to the ground as news comes in about the State of Oregon’s resources. And while things seem like they will remain uncertain for quite a while – we are moving forward one step at a time in the Capital Construction Endorsement process with the goal of not missing an opportunity to advocate.

Isaac Marquez
Director, City of Eugene Cultural Services

The mission of the Coalition is simple:
We advocate for policies and funding that will create a thriving environment for the arts, culture, heritage, history, and the humanities across Oregon.