As the Oregon Legislature rounds the club house turn into the home stretch, we urge the lawmakers to enact Gov. Ted Kulongoski's CHAMP package. That acronym - culture, history, art, movies and preservation - aptly describes some of the most significant elements of Oregon's economy.

The CHAMP bill would restore funding to the Oregon Historical Society and Oregon Public Broadcasting. It would also adequately fund the Oregon Arts Commission, the Oregon Cultural Trust, the Oregon Film and Video Office and the state Historic Preservation Office.

Astoria is the poster child for why the Legislature should put its chips on the governor's CHAMP package. Art, history, movies and culture have become bedrocks of the Astoria economy.

As the oldest American settlement west of the Rocky Mountains, Astoria's historical significance is immense. That history has turned into a drawing card for visitors and new residents alike. The state Historic Preservation Office and the Oregon Cultural Trust have played a major role in the revival of landmark properties such as the Liberty Theater.

The town's burgeoning arts scene includes galleries and artists and performing groups. Moreover, the arts have infused many elements of the retail and restaurant sector with an aesthetic that is unique to this place. The vital sign that separates recovering and dying small towns is an aesthetic, which is an artistic response to the unique aspects of the place.

Astoria has benefited from several movies that have made the town its central attraction. The Goonies cult is only the most obvious vestige of a successful film. In addition to the celebration of a town, movie making also brings a considerable short-term investment.

To sell CHAMP, Gov. Kulongoski has imitated a line from the movie Sunset Boulevard: "In art and culture we're still big - it's the public investment that's gotten small."

It's time to recognize the enormous vitality that the CHAMP sectors can bring to all Oregon communities.

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