Dance, drama, photography, library books, children's radio programming - these are just some of the ways we experience our local culture on the North Coast. The Cultural Coalition of Clatsop County, a part of the Oregon Cultural Trust, announces that grants will soon be available to individuals, businesses and nonprofit organizations in Clatsop County.

The funding is a result of more than two years of community participation and planning, said coalition cochairwoman Claudia Harper. In July 2002, community members representing the arts, heritage and humanities met to discuss the possibility of applying for money from the Oregon Cultural Trust. Over the next two years, a working group was established with the purpose of developing a plan of action that would best benefit Clatsop County's cultural environment. In the process, this planning committee created a public survey of cultural needs and strengths and an inventory of nonprofit organizations, private businesses and individuals affecting the arts, humanities and heritage.

Three public forums were held to gather ideas from interested people. From this community participation, a set of priorities and criteria for making grants available were established. The plan for Clatsop County was submitted to the Oregon Cultural Trust for approval and a final document of the plan was given to the Clatsop County Commission in March 2004.

The Cultural Coalition was then formed with the responsibility of setting up a grant-making process. The group is made up of 12 leaders in the county who work in various cultural areas such as poetry, painting, music, theater, historic preservation, museums and libraries. Clatsop Community College serves as a meeting facility and fiscal agent. "Every person on this is so capable," said Harper. "We've been able to work so well together. It's been the most fun of all the things I chair."

Awards come from the Oregon Cultural Trust, the statewide funding organization whose purpose is to strengthen every aspect of Oregon's culture through a permanent endowment that will grow to more than $200 million. Since its creation, more than 4,600 Oregonians have contributed to the trust, which has awarded more than $2 million in grants statewide.

Grant applications will be available Dec. 1. Those interested in applying should contact Harper at (503) 325-7332.

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