After Artists Repertory Theatre announced it was suspending its 2023-24 season, Oregon Public Broadcasting shared the article “Portland’s Artists Repertory Theatre suspends upcoming season, due to lack of funding.” The article pointed out that ART found the decision “particularly difficult” because it was preparing for rehearsals with Native playwright Dillon Christopher Chitto on his play, “Pueblo Revolt.”
The Willamette Week published an editorial by Nigel Jaquiss calling the legislature to account for its failure to funds arts & culture in Oregon. Here are a few excerpts:
“Oregon lawmakers enjoyed a bounteous harvest of tax dollars in the session that concluded in late June, the result of a stronger-than-expected economy that will return more than $5 billion to taxpayers next year, thanks to the state’s unique ‘kicker’ law. But lawmakers stiffed cultural organizations, large and small. How bad is it? On Aug. 15, Artists Repertory Theatre, Portland’s oldest professional theater company (founded in 1982) abruptly suspended its 2023-24 season, citing the failure of House Bill 2459, which ‘resulted in $250,000 not being awarded to us as part of the proposed recovery funding for the arts and cultural sector.”
The article explains how we got here and how State Rep. Rob Nosse has done everything in his power to make arts & culture matter in Salem:
“State Rep. Rob Nosse (D-Portland), the chair of Salem’s cultural caucus, took a two-pronged approach in 2023 to help a sector that supporters say brings tourists to Oregon and uplifts the state’s residents. Nosse asked his colleagues to allocate $200 million in Oregon Lottery bonds to build an endowment for the Oregon Cultural Trust—fulfilling the promise lawmakers made in 2001—and asked for $50 million in ‘recovery funding’ as well as $12 million in end-of-session capital construction bills.
Nosse didn’t expect to get all $262 million, but he got only $5.6 million in recovery funds for venues and $4 million in capital funding.”
It goes on to explain why arts & culture funding matters:
“‘On a per capita basis, we rank 36th in the nation in state spending on the arts. ‘Oregon spends 48 cents per capita on the arts, whereas Minnesota, the national leader, spends $7.34,’ testified Dana Whitelaw, executive director of the High Desert Museum in Bend.”
The Oregon Children’s Theatre has paused main stage productions, and Oregon Shakespeare Festival has been struggling to stay afloat. In addition, 14 of the 16 organizations we endorsed for capital funding are stuck without the money they were expecting. The legislative session was disappointing indeed.
Rep. Nosse expresses hope for next year…but how many arts & culture organizations will have to stall their programming before then?