Cultural Trust provides permanent benefit

The year 2007 may be remembered for many things, but as it ends any reflection has to include the undeniable truth that this was one tough year.

We've heard it all before: the lament of gas prices, budget cuts at the city, county and the university, real estate slowdowns and library closures.

In an economic downturn, funding for things like museums, theaters, instruction in the arts, classical music and literature &

always a threat for budget reductions &

is particularly vulnerable.

Thankfully, the Oregon Cultural Trust empowers those inclined to specifically support the arts with a 100 percent tax credit for donations. The monies build a permanent endowment that will fund the arts in good economic times and bad.

Every taxpayer in Oregon could take advantage of this unique opportunity to invest in the future of the arts in the state while getting the maximum tax benefit.

The Oregon Cultural Trust creates a significant pool of direct financing for the arts in our community. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival relies heavily on such contributions to make its annual budget. As a significant economic cog in Ashland, the festival returns that investment in increased business, tourism and an overall addition that goes beyond dollars toward our Valley's quality of life.

The Oregon Cultural Trust has awarded funds for a specific OSF project each year since its inception.

The festival makes it very easy for people to contribute. On the OSF Web site, anyone can become a member of the festival and enjoy the benefits this coming season. Simply go to /membership/. Once a member, the matching contribution can be made, again online at /home/index.php or a contribution can be mailed to Oregon Cultural Trust, 775 Summer St. NE, Salem, OR 97301-1284.

The Oregon Cultural Trust has already raised $7 million for the permanent endowment. More than 12,000 people have donated to the fund. Roughly an additional $1 million has been raised through the sale of cultural trust license plates.

Once the endowed fund tops the $10 million mark, the state treasurer will more aggressively invest the funds. The end result is a realization of what this program was intended to do. It has created a permanently endowed cultural and arts funding source for the state of Oregon.

Charitable giving in an economic downturn is tough for many who wish they could contribute. But even a small donation adds to the end result. And in this season of giving, affirming the unique contributions of arts and cultural organizations is especially important. The full tax credit makes it even easier to offer that support and not feel the financial pinch.

We encourage a giving spirit along with hope for a better 2008.

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