The Cultural Advocacy Coalition of Oregon (CAC) is the only statewide organization lobbying Salem on behalf of art, culture, heritage and the humanities. CAC includes nearly 400 cultural, historical and heritage organizations in every corner of the state from all-volunteer rural community groups, to tribes, to nationally renowned theaters, museums and symphonies.

As a board member of the Cultural Advocacy Coalition, I am excited about our current cultural projects before the state legislature for this biennium.

A signature part of CAC’s work is the review and vetting of capital projects that are funded through the Cultural Resources Economic Fund and are cornerstones in many communities.

Over 40 projects were submitted and reviewed for 1) readiness, 2) community support, 3) contributions to economic development, and 4) the preservation or creation of cultural assets. Using these factors and CAC’s commitment to equity and inclusion, the coalition recommended 11 projects from all across the state, totaling $9.5 million in state funding.

One of those projects is right here in our own back yard — the Siletz Tribal Arts & Heritage Society (STAHS) Cultural Heritage Center.

The mission of STAHS is to support and promote the practice, conservation, and restoration of the tribal cultures of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians. The confederated tribes is the most diverse confederation of tribes/languages/cultures on a single reservation.

The primary initiative of STAHS is to build and construct “The People’s Place” — Ghii Dee-Ne Dvn — a cultural heritage center to be built on Government Hill in Siletz. The People’s Place will focus on preserving culture and the languages used to express culture for American Indians and Alaska Natives.

The People’s Place is to be a place of healing. The tribe has already provided the resources to build phase one, which was collection storage, and has pledged to match all gifts up to $2.5 million. Phase two will provide exhibits, research and archival storage space, as well as group presentation areas, and offices. Construction of the heritage center will generate approximately 89 direct construction jobs, plus 78 supplier jobs and 123 induced jobs.

CAC is also championing the Reser Center for the Arts and the Lincoln City Cultural Center, which had been approved for lottery bond funding that was subsequently rescinded because of the pandemic and reduced lottery funds. Now these projects need completion.

The Lincoln City Cultural Plaza will transform the outdoor space around the historic Delake School into a pedestrian-friendly attraction for residents and visitors to enjoy. Dedicated installments of public art, gathering spaces with seating and spaces for outdoor education will be connected by a meandering, accessible pathway.

The redesigned traffic flow will include new parking areas with islands, adequate lighting for evening safety and other upgrades required by city code.

The Lincoln City Cultural Center (LCCC) Board of Directors has been working on the plaza design since 2017, in cooperation with the Portland landscape architecture firm Shapiro Didway and Newport-based Civil West Engineering Services.

The board used a community-based process to gather feedback and design comments from stakeholders, members, major partners and the general public. LCCC is excited that the finished design will not only be useful, but an artistic and beautiful engine for year-round, arts-based economic vitality.

With the end of the pandemic in sight, the LCCC Board is moving forward with an updated $2.5 million budget and a scheduled construction start in spring 2022.

Recently I sent testimony to the Joint Ways and Means Committee encouraging support of these two Lincoln County initiatives and other statewide capital construction projects.

Before June 10, I encourage you to contact our legislators to support these local projects. State Rep. David Gomberg and State Sen. Dick Anderson are both on the Ways and Means Committee, which controls the state budget. (See Opinion page for contact information.)

Remember, the arts are an economic force for all our Oregon counties. The most recent American for the Arts, “Arts & Economic Prosperity V” study shows that nonprofit arts and culture sector in Lincoln County is a $10.4 million industry. But that’s another arts story for another time.

To learn more about CAC, go to www.oregonculture.org.

Catherine Rickbone is an arts advocate and chair of the Newport Public Arts Committee; board member of the Newport Public Arts Foundation; on the Lincoln County Cultural Coalition; a member of ARTS Toledo; co-chair of the Willamette Writers Coast Branch, and a CAC board member.

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