The Oregon Cultural Trust may sound like sound like some snooty organization for the well-to-do in Portland. But the Trust is making a difference here in Grant County and other rural parts of the state.

The Salem-based non-profit recently announced a $10,000 donation to the Oregon State Parks Trust to support preservation efforts at Kam Wah Chung & Co. Museum in John Day. It also is contributing more than $5,000 in cultural participation grants to Grant County.

Elsewhere in Eastern Oregon, the Trust is contributing:

* $12,000 toward the restoration of the historic 1909 Carnegie Library in Baker City as an arts center for residents of Baker, Grant, Union, Umatilla, Malheur and Wallowa counties.

? $10,000 for the Robbins' Homestead Barn project at the High Desert Museum in Bend.

? $8,000 for Fishtrap Inc., the support the successful Writer in Residence program for rural communities.

? $7,000 to support the "Corp in out Camp" project for school children at the Tamastslikt Cultural Institute in Pendleton.

In an era marked by cuts in Oregon's public sector, most notably schools and universities, the Oregon Cultural Trust has been an antidote - a reminder that our state can be a pioneer.

Our cultural trust has become a national model to increase public and private investment in culture. It is the first trust in the nation to offer an integrated program of supporting the arts, history and the humanities.

Moreover, it works. More than $8 million has been contributed since 2002, mostly in amounts less than $1,000. There is $5 million in the trust's endowment, and $3.5 million has been distributed in grants.

The Register-Guard newspaper of Eugene has written that the Oregon Cultural Trust will one day rank alongside the Bottle Bill and voting by mail as a model of Oregon innovation. We agree.

This is the time of year when people who have already given to charitable organizations to help the needy should consider making a similar gift to the arts. The Oregon Cultural Trust ( is a great way to do just that. Your gift to the trust, of up to $500 for an individual or $1,000 for a couple filing taxes jointly, will earn an equivalent tax credit on your Oregon tax return.

That is a very good deal - for you and our community.

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