- Arts Central
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Throughout this conversation, O’Hagan describes the challenges and triumphs for the local arts scene and explores the reasons why the state traditionally has very little money to support cultural organizations in Oregon.
Here in Bend, Visit Bend started the Bend Cultural Tourism Fund a few years ago which redirects some room taxes towards arts organizations hosting events that attract people from outside the area. It’s been a boon for Bend, and helped various festivals and organizations thrive, while offering the local community the opportunity to engage with high-caliber events.
But does the region’s hyper focus on tourism have a detrimental effect on artistic authenticity in Bend? O’Hagan suggested that in the future, perhaps the state could allow for more flexibility with how communities put tourism taxes to work.
“Towns like this will always have a lot of landscape paintings,” she said. “Ceramics with mountains on them and things like that because that's what a
lot of people want to take away when they go home and a lot of those pieces are very affordable… If you go to other places like the beach, that's what you're going to see. But a lot of the more urban areas—Portland, Seattle, San Francisco, LA and on—you're going to have more alternatives to that… Maybe in the future, there could be a little more emphasis on using some of that money [tourism room taxes] to strategize a larger festival that is really high arts focused.”
O’Hagan also discussed her role as co-chair of the Deschutes Cultural Coalition, and how that organization helped to get money in the hands of many local nonprofits and businesses earlier this month that are still struggling from the fallout caused by the coronavirus.
Listen more from Cate O'Hagan on this week's episode of “Bend Don't Break,” hosted by the Source Weekly’s publisher Aaron Switzer. Every week, Switzer invites on a someone from the community with a new perspective on living through the COVID-19 pandemic including mental health professionals, economists, educators, artists, business people, local leaders and historians. Subscribe on iTunes, Soundcloud or wherever you get your podcasts.