The day after U.S. Senate candidate Bill Bradbury trounced his opponents in the Democratic primary, he sat down for breakfast with a bunch of Portland media types. Bradbury, who is also Secretary of State, didn't spend much time hashing out election strategy. Instead, he talked about the Oregon Cultural Trust--an innovative idea to pull Oregon out of its pathetic bottom-of-the-barrel in state funding for arts and culture.
Showing no sign of wear and tear from the campaign trail, Bradbury stabbed at scrambled eggs and talked excitedly about the upcoming "Oregon Cultural Summit," on June 21 in Portland, which will be the coming-out party for the funding initiative.
"This legislation, really, to me, is like the bottle or beach bill," Bradbury said.
The trust takes a three-pronged approach to raising money: a tax credit for contributions to the trust, proceeds from the sale of surplus state-owned assets such as unused property, and the sale of new "culture-oriented" license plates for $15 each.
To qualify for a tax credit, donors have to give to an approved Oregon nonprofit cultural organization of their choice and then supply a matching donation to the trust. Unlike the tax deduction you can take for donating to non-profits, which whittles down your taxable income, a tax credit chops the donated amount right off your tax bill.
No one is sure how much the trust will raise: Bradbury is aiming for $2 million in the first year. Its fate will probably rest on a strength most arts and culture organizations have already built up out of necessity--begging.
Arts, heritage or humanities organizations in Oregon are encouraged to attend the Summit this summer; applications can be downloaded at www.culturaltrust.org .