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Lisa Loving of The Skanner
Published: 07 May 2009

As the state legislature proceeds to hash out its 2010 budget, a major priority for many advocates is funding for programs that create jobs.

For Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski's wife, First Lady Mary Oberst, jobs in the arts and cultural preservation are the centerpiece of the CHAMP II Reinvestment Package.

Oberst visited The Skanner's offices Friday to talk about the Culture, History, Art. Movies, Preservation program.

Watch part of our interview on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yMMX2Vy1pyQ

CHAMP II is a followup to the 2007 "CHAMP" stimulus program that gave $10 million to the arts and arts-related businesses around the state for training and technical assistance in their business practices and fundraising.

For this legislative budget, the group is angling for $5 million to bolster the work established at that time.

Oberst said almost 25,000 Oregonians are employed in arts and historic preservation statewide, accounting for what CHAMP's figures show to be a payroll of more than $1 billion a year.

"For this community in North and Northeast Portland, that could fund projects like Judith Yelvington's current photo show at the IFCC, which is about Black history and the arts," she said. "For artists and for nonprofit organizations, it's a job issue."

[That show is "Once Upon a Time in Portland, We Danced," and combines Yelvington's paintings with a history of local dance halls, including a public storytelling event Saturday, May 16 at 1 p.m.]

One project created in 2007 by CHAMP is the Oregon Main Street program, which recently awarded money to the North/Northeast Business Association for streetscape development, restoration and marketing projects for Martin Luther King Boulevard.

Oberst said the CHAMP effort brings together Oregon institutions and nonprofit groups to advocate together – rather than compete against each other – to make sure that the state invests in the arts and preservation-related job sector.

"This $5 million is in the governor's proposed budget," Oberst said. "But as they say, the governor proposes and the legislature disposes."

She said advocates are working to build taxpayer support to keep the funding on the table.

For more information go to: http://champday.atomdriven.com/ and


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