ArtsWatch Weekly: season of gifts

Closing out 2016, giving to the groups that keep Oregon's culture alive and help it thrive

We are almost to an end and almost to a beginning, and neither is truly an ending or a beginning except in the way we divide and parcel time. Because we are a calendar- and clock-driven species, though, and because we live in a culture that regulates the trading chips we call “money,” the division of time between one year and the next has consequences. One such consequence is that we are in the time of giving, to the nonprofit organizations we believe in, and taking, of the tax credits available when we give those gifts before the end of the calendar year.

Like other nonprofits, arts groups large and small can’t cover their costs on ticket income alone. Figures vary, but it’s not unusual for cultural organizations to cover roughly half of their costs through earned income, and rely on grants and gifts for the rest. And while large donations are crucial, the lifeblood of most cultural groups is those smaller, regular, individual or family donations from everyday people – from you and me.

“Here We Are Again” (Santa Claus and New Year Fairy), Thomas Nast, double page uncolored wood engraving, 15.6 x 12.8 inches, Harper’s Weekly, January 1878.

If you haven’t done it already, this is the time, by Saturday. Museums, theater and dance companies, musical groups, film and literary and visual art societies: think about the ones you want to nurture, and help as you can. In Oregon, one excellent place to direct at least part of your giving is the Oregon Cultural Trust. The state-run Trust distributes money to about 1,400 cultural organizations, including arts, historical, and tribal groups in every section of the state. In a state where private giving lags behind national norms, it’s a vital system of support. And the Trust offers a significant bonus: donate to a cultural group or groups on its large list, donate the same amount to the Trust, and take off the entire amount of your Trust donation from your state taxes. It can amount to a big savings. If you give $400 to cultural groups, for instance, and add a $400 donation to the Trust, the entire $400 to the Trust is subtracted from your Oregon tax bill, because it’s a full tax credit, not a deduction. You can download the Trust’s donation form. Or if you like to do things the old-fashioned way rather than relying on the Internet, you can even call the Trust directly to make your donation: 503-986-0088.


OREGON ARTSWATCH IS A NONPROFIT organization, too, and like other cultural organizations we rely heavily on donations to keep our stories coming. We’d love for you to think of us when you’re making your giving plans. Part of culture is the chronicling of culture. It’s what we do. Giving’s easy, and deeply appreciated. Here’s how. And, thanks!


A highlight of 2016: art from a black collector’s perspective at Upfor. Arvie Smith’s “Manumissions,” left, and Devan Shimoyama’s “Adjusting to the Luminous Black.” Collection of John Goodwin and Michael-Jay Robinson. Upfor Gallery.

ARTSWATCH LOOKS BACK: Plenty’s happening in the arts world in January, and next week we’ll look at some of the options. But this week we’re settling in and thinking about the recent past. On Friday we’ll publish our Year in Review, our annual look at the notable moments and events in Oregon’s cultural year 2016, with plenty of links to take you to the original stories. You’ll find it Friday morning on our home page. Happy reading!



About ArtsWatch Weekly

We send a letter like this once a week to a select group of email subscribers, and also post it weekly on the ArtsWatch home page. In ArtsWatch Weekly, we take a look at stories we’ve covered in the previous week, give early warning of events coming up, and sometimes head off on little arts rambles we don’t include anywhere else. You can read this report here. Or, you can get it delivered weekly to your email inbox, and get a quick look at all the stories you might have missed (we have links galore) and the events you want to add to your calendar. It’s easy to sign up. Just click here, and leave us your name and e-address.


 And finally…

We end with a couple of requests. First, if you have friends or family members who you think would enjoy our cultural writing online, could you please forward this letter to them? The bigger our circle of friends, the more we can accomplish. Second, if you’re not already a member of ArtsWatch, may we ask you to please take a moment and sign on? What you give (and your donation is tax-deductible) makes it possible for us to continue and expand our reporting and commenting on our shared culture in Oregon. Thanks, and welcome!

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