Distribution of CARES Act Funding to Oregon’s Cultural Sector
in an Equitable, Efficient, and Enduring Manner
The Cultural Advocacy Coalition (CAC), representing over 350 members plus over 1000 friends of Oregon’s cultural sector are appreciative that the federal CARES funds approved this week by the Emergency Board will help sustain and evolve arts, culture, heritage, and humanities organizations across this state. Our Board endorses the following recommendations for distribution of funds:
- Clarify Eligibility. We agree that the organizations registered with the Oregon Cultural Trust (approximately 1400) should be the primary recipients of these funds. That criteria requires that all are 501 (c) (3) nonprofit or tribal organizations. The Emergency Board also agreed to support county fair organizations with some of these resources to the extent allowable under federal law for governmental entities. If fairs are local government agencies, federal law would not allow giving them funding to cover lost revenue, but only for the extra, unbudgeted expenses they incur due to the pandemic – PPE, or extra staffing for cleaning, security and the like.
- Center Equity. The CAC believes strongly in an Oregon where all of our residents are able to access and engage in their community without barriers, where students have equitable access to quality arts education, and arts and culture organizations are able to provide quality programming that allows for the export of ideas, innovation and creative work while contributing to Oregon’s economy and quality of life.
- Get the Word Out. The CAC is eager to collaborate with the Oregon Cultural Trust, the county and tribal coalitions to communicate to potential applicants about availability of these funds, how to apply (using the OCT form, except for local government agencies) and the deadline for doing so (same deadline statewide). The communication process needs to happen immediately and be far-reaching, targeted at reaching minority and underrepresented groups including providing translated application materials.
- Distribute Funds to the County and Tribal Coalitions. The CAC endorses an equitable and quick process which would allocate funds to coalitions based solely on population. That would be consistent with the discussion by rural legislators during the E Board. Taking the overall appropriated amount of nearly $26 m., this would mean approximately $6.20 per person.
- Determine Eligibility for Grants. The CAC supports asking each eligible organization to attest to an average of their operating expenses across 2018 and 2019 (based on reported figures from their federal 990 form). Each organization would be eligible for awards matched to a percentage of their operating expenses based on the overall size of the funding available to their county coalition. Coalitions would be required to report to OCT the amounts requested by organizations, by sending copies of application forms, and the amount distributed by them to each applicant. The funding of local government organizations would need to be limited to the CARES Act allowed purposes. OCT should clearly communicate that those who received designated grants from DAS are ineligible for these funds. We support a simple one-page application form.
- Consider Tribes and Small Organizations. We encourage the OCT to set a minimum allocation for very small organizations and/or Tribes to assist in their recovery.
- Simplify Transparency and Accountability. We suggest a simple one-page form to report expenditures of these funds by each organization. The CAC would be happy to collaborate on a method that maximizes transparency and minimizes time and effort of the applicants.
Board of Directors
Cultural Advocacy Coaliton