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Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski Receives Americans for the Arts’ Leadership Award

Americans for the Arts, a leading national arts advocacy organization awarded Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski its prestigious Public Leadership in the Arts Award.  The awards recognize elected officials whose vision and leadership provide heightened visibility to the value of the arts and arts education within their communities.  In making the award, Americans for the Arts cited Governor Kulongoski’s “leadership in establishing the CHAMP program and for his support of the merger of the fledgling Oregon Cultural Trust with the Oregon Arts Commission to ensure that the Trust survived its infancy.”

“I deeply appreciate that Americans for the Arts recognizes the progress we are making re-investing in art and culture in Oregon.  I hope to use this award as a catalyst for additional public support of the arts, especially in ways that will bring the arts to children both in and out of the classroom,” said the Governor regarding the award.
The Governor received his award during the U.S. Conference of Mayors Winter Meeting in Washington, DC, on January 21, 2010.

“Governor Kulongoski has made more significant contributions in support of arts and culture than any other governor in the 150-year history of the state,” said Christine D’Arcy, Executive Director of the Oregon Arts Commission, which nominated the Governor for the award. “In his seven years in office, he has advanced both policy and budget initiatives, branding culture and creative endeavors as critical to the state’s economy and future. His CHAMP initiatives have led to significant new investment in art, culture, history, movie production, and preservation, fueling Oregon’s creative economy and creating and retaining jobs.”

Norm Smith, Chairman of the Cultural Trust board, commented, “Governor Kulongoski’s tireless support of the Cultural Trust has demonstrated his commitment to art and culture – and his long term vision that Oregon’s economy and the education of its children require a vibrant, well-funded, and broad-based cultural life.”

“The Governor has demonstrated his solid support of Oregon’s arts and culture since he took office – and then deepened that support in two successive sessions of the Legislature.  Now, in his last year of office as Governor, he is well deserving of national recognition for his work,” said Virginia Willard, Executive Director of Business for Culture & the Arts, an  affiliation of over 180 businesses that advocates for increased private and public support of the arts, heritage, humanities, and historic preservation across Oregon.

The Arts Commission summarized the following accomplishments of Kulongoski’s leadership in the arts in its nomination:

•    In 2003, after five special sessions of the Oregon Legislature to balance the state budget, Governor Kulongoski authorized the merger of the fledgling Oregon Cultural Trust with the Oregon Arts Commission to ensure that the Trust survived its infancy. Since then, Oregonians have contributed over $21 million to the Trust to support the arts, heritage and humanities.

•    In 2005, Oregon ranked among the lowest states in promotion of tourism, Oregon’s third largest industry, despite great destinations such as Portland and Ashland that are vibrant centers of art and culture. Governor Kulongoski supported legislation that authorized a one-percent statewide lodging tax dedicated to tourism promotion.  With these dedicated funds, investment support moved from 47th in the country to near 25th.  This tourism promotion has benefited cultural programming across the state.

•    In 2007, Governor Kulongoski initiated and branded CHAMP, a unified cultural reinvestment effort to support the cultural and creative economy of the state. CHAMP represents Culture, Heritage, Arts, Movies, Preservation, and Public Broadcasting.  The Oregon Historical Society, Oregon Arts Commission, Cultural Trust, Oregon Public Broadcasting, the Governor’s Office of Film & Television, and the State Historic Preservation Office worked collectively to support the Governor’s CHAMP package which ultimately resulted in the Legislature passing a budget that increased public investment by $10.6 million dollars.  The CHAMP funding was allocated over and above the base budgets of these entities.

•    CHAMP funding of $2.9 million for the Commission’s Creative Oregon Initiative restored grant funds to arts groups and artists to provide programs for Oregonians across the state, and began a new technical assistance program to build the capacity of Oregon arts organizations and artists.

•    The other beneficiaries of CHAMP for the 2007-2009 biennium included the Oregon Historical Society, the Governor’s Office of Film & Television, the development of a new Oregon Main Street program, and Oregon Public Broadcasting.

•    During the 2009 session, Governor Kulongoski proposed CHAMP II, a follow-up cultural reinvestment package that resulted in both funding and policy achievements in the midst of a deep recession.  Over $5 million in new funds was allocated to the Oregon Arts Commission, Oregon Historical Society, Portland Art Museum, Oregon Main Street Program, and Oregon Public Broadcasting.

In addition to the budget successes of CHAMP II,  the Governor, in 2009, provided the leadership to advance and secure passage of legislation on the following arts and culture issues:

•    Oregon’s landmark Historic Properties Special Assessment program was renewed.

•    The sunset date of Oregon’s innovative cultural tax credit was extended to 2014; the board of the Cultural Trust was expanded; and the use of license plate revenues for marketing and promotion of the Trust was extended for 10 years.

•    The Oregon Production Investment Fund (OPIF) increased from $10 million per biennium to $15 million. OPIF provides critical rebates to film productions that shoot in Oregon, provided they meet program requirements and spend at least $750,000 in the state.  Since 2005, OPIF has been responsible for bringing over $140 million in revenue into the state.

•    Musicians are now allowed to be considered independent contractors, and persons or organizations that engage their services are no longer considered their employer for the purpose of paying unemployment insurance compensation taxes.

•    Governor Kulongoski is the first Oregon governor to appoint a Policy Advisor specifically for art, culture, and media production issues.

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