Clatsop County already thought of as a haven for creativityPainters, dancers, archeologists and historians - they all have a place in the new Clatsop County cultural coalition in the process of being formed.

Interested participants are invited to an informational meeting Wednesday from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Columbia River Maritime Museum.

The new council is intended to provide an umbrella organization through which a range of artistic and cultural groups and individuals can tap a state program that provides funds for local cultural projects.

Dee Bristol of Gearhart, who is facilitating the meeting, said she's already spoken with several interested people about the project.

"I'm impressed with the level of energy people have around arts and culture in this community," she said.

The local project was prompted by the creation last year of the new Oregon Cultural Trust, a state program operating under the auspices of the Secretary of State's office that will distribute funds to local cultural organizations and tribes. INFO. BOXWHAT: A meeting to discuss coordinating arts issues in Clatsop County;

WHEN: 5 to 7 p.m., Wednesday;

WHERE: The Columbia River Maritime Museum in Astoria.

Relying on funding sources that include the sale of surplus state property, as well as tax-exempt donations and sales of specially-designed "cultural" license plates, the state organization's goal is to establish a $200 million permanent endowment by 2012, and give out $90 million to local groups during the next 10 years through competitive grants.

Communities must create county cultural councils to be eligible for funding through the trust's community grant program.

"Clatsop County is known across the state as a county with rich cultural talents and interests - that's really rewarding," Bristol said. "The challenge is bringing those diverse voices together, across geography and disciplines."

The trust lists activities and disciplines ranging from anthropology, museums and historic preservation to literature, media arts and dance, and the local council will be open to a broad range of people and groups, Bristol said.

"It's not just the visual arts, but humanities, dramatic arts, restoration," she said.

The new county organization isn't intended to replace local arts and culture groups. "I assume all the different associations will bring their experience and expertise (to the council)," Bristol said.

"Many here feel such an organization is needed anyway," said Roger Rocka, executive director of the Astoria-Warrenton Area Chamber of Commerce, which is sponsoring the meeting along with the Seaside and Cannon Beach chambers.

At Wednesday's meeting, participants will be asked to suggest members for a local planning committee. The local group must establish a county cultural plan and pick candidates for the planning committee, who will be appointed by the state organization. A nonprofit funding entity must also be set up.

"They will have work to do," Bristol said.

The planning committees are made up of a dozen or more members representing a broad cross section of the local artistic and cultural groups.

The local planning body will decide where the county's share of trust funding goes. Possible recipients could include facilities for performing and visual arts, marketing training for local artists, and cultural programs by local social service agencies, Bristol said.

Some start-up money should be available to the new council, and at least $6,000 in funds will be available for local groups and programs in the first funding cycle, she said.


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