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 enters the event – sporting the vibrant and colorful Celebrate Oregon! artwork developed by the Oregon Cultural Trust – Children in Newport are busy creating their own artistic creations, reflecting the mission of the Art Bus. Then, captivated, they join artist Liza Mana Burns to explore her creation and the many symbols within it.
“What is that?” a child declared, pointing. “It’s sticky rice,” answered Liza. “Laos people use it to make sticky rice – it’s really good!” They discover the gray whale, which one girl concludes is “swimming both ways.” And they tilt their heads to better see a symbol for conversation.
It’s a perfect marriage of art and access. The Oregon Coast Art Bus removes transportation and cost barriers for Oregon Coast youth without regular access to hands-on art activities. This is a program of the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts.
“We believe that absolutely everyone deserves access to the arts,” said 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 from its work is where creative experiences come from.”
The Celebrate Oregon! The 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 is to create a piece of art that honors and respects this place, its people and the diversity of our cultural practices. The artwork, which debuted on the Cultural Trust’s new plaque in October 2021, is now featured in full-scale murals at Oregon 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,” said Cultural Trust Board Chair Niki Price. “It helps everyone understand that we’re celebrating what’s vibrant, colorful and exciting about Oregon.”
The Cultural Trust supports arts, heritage and humanities nonprofits throughout 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 allocates those funds to fund cultural projects. Oregonians directed a record $5.7M of their state taxes to fund the 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 are invested in a permanent fund for culture.