The Oregon Cultural Trust is living up to its promise. Grants distributed by the trust last Thursday were a 74 percent increase over grants made during the prior fiscal year.

The Oregon Cultural Trust Board was able to achieve that level of granting because of Oregonians' participation in the trust. Citizens have made donations to the trust and purchased the Cultural Trust license plates.

The Lewis & Clark Bicentennial Association received a grant from the trust for its Ocean in View program. The Clatsop County Cultural Coalition also benefited. The Tillamook County Arts Network similarly will gain a gift from the Cultural Trust.

The trust's growth represents a widespread belief that arts and culture are essential to Oregon's well being and are, not incidentally, a major component of our economy. We in Clatsop County know that well. The Clatsop County Historical Society and similar groups in Seaside and Cannon Beach are essential to understanding this region's storied past. The Columbia River Maritime Museum is a world-class institution and draws visitors from outside the region. The Lewis and Clark National Historical Park is our ultimate historical site.

Our county's vibrant arts scene is nourished by diverse groups such as the Coaster Theattr, Astor Street Opry Company, the River Theater and the Liberty Theater, which received a grant during the Cultural Trust's first grants cycle.

A product of the 1999 Oregon Legislature, the Oregon Cultural Trust is one of the most positive products to emerge from Salem in the past decade. If you have not taken advantage of its tax credit, you should investigate it further. A visit to culturaltrust.org will explain it all.

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