While the stunning new look for the Oregon Coast Art Bus was the focus of an unveiling event at the Newport Performing Arts Center Aug. 18, the reaction of local youth stole the show.
As the newly wrapped Art Bus rolled into the event – sporting the vibrant and colorful Celebrate Oregon! artwork developed by the Oregon Cultural Trust – Newport children were busy crafting their own artistic creations, demonstrating the mission of the Art Bus. Then, captivated, they joined artist Liza Mana Burns to explore her creation and the many symbols within it.
“What is that?” one child proclaimed, pointing. “It’s a sticky rice basket,” replied Liza. “People from Laos use it to make sticky rice – it’s really good!” They discovered the gray whale, which one young girl decided was “swimming both ways.” And they tilted their heads to better view a symbol for conversation.
It was a perfect marriage of art and access. The Oregon Coast Art Bus eliminates transportation and cost barriers for youth on the Oregon Coast without regular access to hands-on art activities. It is a program of the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts.
“We believe that absolutely everyone deserves access to the arts,” says Jason Holland, the executive director of the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts, which manages the Art Bus. “The Art Bus helps us make that happen, literally, and out of its work out of which springs creative experiences.”
The Celebrate Oregon! artwork was developed by the Cultural Trust in an 18-month process involving more than 100 statewide nominators, artists, jury members and content experts. The goal was to create a single piece of art that honors and respects this place, its people and the diversity of our cultural practices. The artwork, which debuted on the new Cultural Trust license plate in October 2021, is now featured in full-scale murals at Oregon’s airports in Eugene, Medford, Redmond and Portland – it also appears on a 38-foot banner outside the Portland Art Museum.
“The artwork brings the Oregon Cultural Trust to the forefront,” says Cultural Trust Board Chair Niki Price. “It helps everyone understand that we celebrate what’s colorful, vibrant and exciting about Oregon.”
The Cultural Trust supports arts, heritage and humanities nonprofits across the state of Oregon through the Cultural Tax Credit. Oregonians who match their donations to cultural organizations with a gift to the Cultural Trust receive a 100 percent state tax credit for their Trust donation. Meanwhile, the legislature sets those funds aside to fund cultural projects. Oregonians directed a record $5.7M of their state taxes to fund arts, heritage and humanities in fiscal year 2022.
As a result, a record $3.4 million was awarded to 138 cultural organizations in August. The Trust’s three grant programs fund five Statewide Partners, 45 County and Tribal Coalitions and qualified cultural nonprofits through competitive Cultural Development grants. The remaining 40 percent of the funds raised is invested in a permanent fund for culture.