Oregon Arts Commission’s Artist Relief Program Awards Announced


646 Oregon artists to receive $1.25 million in relief grant awards

SALEM – Relief grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 will be awarded to 643 diverse artists across Oregon through an Artist Relief Program created by the Oregon Arts Commission in partnership with Oregon Community Foundation and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation. The awards expend the $1.25 million available for the program.

“Artists are the creative core of our communities and help define who we are. They inspire us to innovate, to learn and grow,” said Brian Rogers, executive director of the Oregon Arts Commission. “We are thankful to be able to provide support as our artists continue to suffer great losses due to the pandemic.

“Structure #12” from the series Proposal for Habitat for Humankind by Diego Morales-Portillo, Portland, visual arts. Image courtesy of Oregon Arts Commission

“While the requests far exceeded available funds,” Rogers added, “we hope the awards will help artists sustain their practice until better times arrive. We are extremely grateful to our partners at Oregon Community Foundation and the Miller Foundation for making this program possible.”

A total of 1158 eligible applications reporting more than $18 million in revenue loss were received. Twenty-nine panelists from around the state served on five discipline-based panels that reviewed and evaluated applications based on published review criteria: professional artistic practice, impact of cancellations, loss of revenue on artistic practice, and need and access to other resources. A geographic distribution model ensured artists were funded in every region of the state. An average of 62% of applications were funded from each of the state’s 12 regions.

Nubia Monks, Ashland, theater arts. From Oregon Shakespeare Festival’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2020).” Photo by Jenny Graham. Image courtesy of Oregon Arts Commission

“The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation has been supporting Oregon artists for two decades through funding the visual, literary and performing arts organizations that employ Oregon’s creative workers,” said Martha Richards, executive director of the Miller Foundation. “In light of the impacts of both the pandemic and 2020 wildfires, we felt it critical to offer our support directly to artists for the first time. Together with our partners in the Artist Relief Program, we hope these grants help our state’s artists through this crisis. Now more than ever, we recognize artists’ vital role in our communities and consider their creativity and contributions as vital to our state’s recovery.”

Kirista Trask in-studio, Astoria, visual arts. Image courtesy of Oregon Arts Commission

“The relief applications submitted by working artists across Oregon demonstrated both the deep need and courageous resilience in our arts communities,” added Jerry Tischleder, Oregon Community Foundation’s program officer for arts and culture. “It’s crushing to recognize all that has been lost and I’m humbled that OCF could play a role in mending a portion of the damages. I applaud the review panels across the state who dug in to direct how funds would be allocated – it was hard work that couldn’t have been done without broad community input.”

The awarded artists represent a wide array of artistic disciplines including: Literature (creative non-fiction, fiction, play writing and poetry); dance (including choreography); music (composition and music performance); theatre and performance art; folk and traditional arts; visual arts (crafts, drawing, painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, mixed media and new media); design arts; and media arts.

See a full list of artist awards by county.

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The Oregon Arts Commission provides leadership, funding and arts programs through its grants, special initiatives and services. Nine commissioners, appointed by the Governor, determine arts needs and establish policies for public support of the arts. The Arts Commission became part of Business Oregon (formerly Oregon Economic and Community Development Department) in 1993, in recognition of the expanding role the arts play in the broader social, economic and educational arenas of Oregon communities. In 2003, the Oregon legislature moved the operations of the Oregon Cultural Trust to the Arts Commission, streamlining operations and making use of the Commission’s expertise in grantmaking, arts and cultural information and community cultural development. 

The Arts Commission is supported with general funds appropriated by the Oregon legislature and with federal funds from the National Endowment for the Arts as well as funds from the Oregon Cultural Trust. More information about the Oregon Arts Commission is available online at: www.oregonartscommission.org.

About Author

Carrie Kikel is the Communications Manager for Oregon’s Arts Department, which includes the Oregon Arts Commission and the Oregon Cultural Trust. The Oregon Arts Commission provides statewide grant funding to artists, arts organizations and arts programs. The Cultural Trust raises public and private awareness and investment in arts, heritage, history, humanities and preservation.

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