Oregon Cultural Trust CARES grant program

Release date: 09/24/2020
Sponsored by: County Administrative Office

UPDATE: Solution found for cultural coalition CARES Act grants

The Clackamas County Cultural Coalition has partnered with the Oregon Cultural Trust to administer the CARES arts and cultural grants funds earmarked for Washington County. This agreement will ensure that eligible Washington County organizations will receive their share of this vital funding.

Washington County is deeply appreciative of the Clackamas County coalition for their role in this excellent outcome for our arts and cultural groups. We are pleased that the Oregon Cultural Trust found a solution that will allow these grants to help deserving organizations in our county.

If applicants have any questions about the funding distribution, please contact the Oregon Cultural Trust at cultural.trust@oregon.gov or 1-503-986-0088.

Original post: 

The Emergency Board of the Oregon Legislature recently allocated $26 million of Oregon’s Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) for grants to Oregon cultural organizations. The Oregon Cultural Trust (OCT), part of Business Oregon, is the state agency designated to distribute these funds to cultural coalitions statewide. The coalitions would then distribute funds to local arts and culture organizations.

Issues concerning the Cultural Coalition of Washington County’s participation arose because the process for allocating and distributing these CRF funds appears to have been designed for smaller cultural coalitions that are 501(c)3s, not government entities. The Cultural Coalition of Washington County (CCWC) has the unique status of a board-appointed commission and is therefore under the umbrella of Washington County government. As such, the CCWC must adhere to all relevant financial and compliance requirements, which are significant in this case, due to the federal funding source. Additionally, by taking on this role, Washington County could potentially place over a million in taxpayer dollars at risk in the event of a federal audit or grantee noncompliance.

Over the course of several weeks, Washington County staff worked diligently with the OCT and other state officials to identify a solution that would mitigate financial risk to local taxpayers while allowing grant funds to be dispersed to our local cultural organizations. The State offered to negotiate with Washington County regarding the administrative costs for this program. However, the CARES funding that currently ends December 30 is the only source of funds available from the state. County funds would be expected to cover the on-going staffing costs for subrecipient monitoring, grant closeout and auditing through 2021. The risks and potential financial burden involved left the Board of Commissioners with no alternative than to decline, with deep regret, the role of subrecipient of the cultural grant funding.

As stated by Board Chair Kathryn Harrington, "Everyone at Washington County is aware of and dismayed by the dire circumstances our cultural organizations face because of the pandemic. These organizations make an enormous contribution to the quality of life we all enjoy. We hope the Oregon Cultural Trust will proceed with the grant applicants they have already selected for awards, and that organizations in Washington County will receive their allotted portion of grant funds that they so desperately need, reflecting our status as the second-largest county in the state."


Lisa Tattersall
Manager, Washington County Cooperative Library Services
lisat@wccls.org; 503-846-3233

Philip Bransford
Communications Officer, Washington County Administrative Office
Philip_Bransford@co.washington.or.us; 503-846-8685