The Lincoln County Cultural Coalition Planning Committee was comprised of 25 community members involved in all aspects of Lincoln County’s cultural and economic life. Appointed by the Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, the committee was charged with developing a County Cultural Plan as directed by the Oregon State Legislature in its formation of the Oregon Cultural Trust.
The committee met bi-weekly to develop the County Cultural Plan. Initially, a Cultural Inventory Form and a Cultural Assessment Survey were developed and agreed upon. The Cultural Inventory provided a base line of cultural opportunities in Lincoln County. The Cultural Assessment Survey provided public input into both positive aspects of Lincoln County’s Cultural life and its deficiencies.
A series of cultural summits, a newspaper insert, and visitations by committee members with organized groups, helped disseminate information about the Oregon Cultural Trust, the tax credit, the Cultural Inventory and the Cultural Assessment Survey.
When the Cultural Assessment Surveys were tabulated and analyzed in the context of earlier committee brainstorming, six priorities stood out:
• Improve access to cultural experiences.
• Raise the level of cultural awareness for youth (pre-school through 12).
• Facilitate the coordination of cultural events throughout the county.
• Coordinate outreach, dissemination and promotion of information.
• Regrant to Arts, Heritage, and Humanities equally.
• Expand resources by seeking additional monetary and in-kind funding.
These priorities along with specific strategies, quantitative benchmarks and qualitative indicators of success comprised the beginning Lincoln County Cultural Plan.
The Lincoln County Cultural Inventory addressed several of these priorities. The Inventory would be become a Lincoln County Cultural Directory, listing cultural opportunities available in Lincoln County. The thought was that the Inventory would be used to develop a County Cultural Calendar listing county cultural events by the week or month.
The Cultural Assessment Survey suggested that transportation, varied time of events, outdoor concerts, and diversity in cultural presentations were high priorities. These priorities have been incorporated into the County Cultural Plan.
Culture, in all its aspects of Arts, History and Humanities, was alive and well in Lincoln County. Residents had very strong feelings about historic places, preserving their legacy in museum and libraries, promoting and supporting education, literary arts, performing arts and all other aspects of our Cultural Life.
The Lincoln County Cultural Coalition envisions a vibrant cultural life for all citizens. It shall engage citizens from all parts of the county to create and celebrate a dream of lifelong cultural experiences for all.
The Lincoln County Board of Commissioners, working closely with Frank Geltner, Executive Director of the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts and Loretta Harrison, Executive Director of the Lincoln County Historical Society, set out to solicit nominations from the Lincoln County community through a mutually developed news release asking for applications to a Lincoln County Cultural Coalition Planning Committee. Applicants were asked to respond by letter indicating their interests and particular qualifications for serving on the Coalition Planning Committee. A selection process was used to insure that applicants were representative of the Arts, Humanities and Historical interests. Special care was taken to make sure there was fair geographical representation from all parts of the County.
The Board of Commissioners selected 25 individuals to be on the Coalition Planning Committee. The Coalition Planning Committee had an initial meeting at the Newport Performing Arts Center on December 4, 2002. Dr. Frank J. Geltner, Jr., Executive Director of the Oregon Coast Council for the Arts and Loretta Harrison, Executive Director of the Lincoln County Historical Society, were selected as co-chairs.
The Coalition Planning Committee agreed to have monthly meetings and also set up two subcommittees, a Cultural Assessment committee and a Cultural Inventory committee. The subcommittees met and prepared drafts of the assessment survey and the inventory forms. These were presented to the full committee for review and refinement.
The Planning Committee also made plans for seven cultural summits in various parts of the County. These summits provided an opportunity to introduce the Oregon Cultural Trust and explain its many features, including the Cultural Tax Credit, the Cultural Development Grant Program, and the Community Cultural Participation Grant program. Cultural Assessment Surveys and Cultural Inventory Surveys were distributed at each of these meetings.
The Cultural Assessment Survey was included as an insert in the largest county newspaper. A website was designed and put online. Both the Assessment Survey and the Inventory Form were put on the web site. Results from the Cultural Assessment Survey were tabulated and totaled, both for local communities and county total. The local tabulation was done to share the results with local organizations to address their specific needs.
The Cultural Inventory Forms would result in a County Cultural Directory. This was expected to be available online as well as in hard copy. The Inventory would be instrumental in creating a county Cultural Calendar. Both of these ideas were dependent on additional funding.
The Coalition Planning Committee met in a brainstorming session to discuss priorities for a County Cultural Plan. Committee members were asked to present any and all ideas. When the preliminary results of the Cultural Assessment Survey were completed, the Committee compared the survey results with its own brainstorming sessions. Using the public’s input and the brainstorming session, a list of six priorities were formed. Strategies and quantitative and qualitative benchmarks were discussed and appropriate language agreed upon.
When the first tabulation was done for the Cultural Assessment Survey, there was one glaring absence. There were no responses from the 13 to 18 age group and just a handful of responses in the 18 to 25 age group. The younger high school population was not represented. One committee member, a high school principal, took this on as a personal mission and within two weeks delivered over 125 completed surveys from these age groups.
The results of the survey reflect the general consensus of the population in Lincoln County and provide a very ambitious outline for the Coalition to follow.
A third subcommittee was formed to draft a structure for the Coalition. These ideas were discussed by the full committee and refined over several meetings.
Though the Oregon Cultural Trust had extended the deadline for submitting a Cultural Plan, the Coalition Planning Committee decided to stay with the original deadline. The Committee did not want to lose the momentum and interest it had developed as personal time constraints were becoming an issue. The Committee decided to meet bi-weekly in order to complete the County Cultural Plan.
The Lincoln County Cultural Plan was completed. The Cultural Directory would be available online and in hard copy when adequate funding is secured. A County Cultural Calendar was a high priority and the committee hoped it would be available online and in hard copy when funds allow.
The Oregon Cultural Trust was an innovative idea, ahead of its time. Its ongoing and future impacts on the quality of life in Lincoln County’s communities were thought to be immeasurable. The Lincoln County Cultural Coalition Planning Committee decided the Trust’s mission was so vital, they would complete their task so as to be ready to move on to the next phase. Some of their priorities could be addressed by local agencies, many of which are already involved in these areas. Other priorities would need outside funding, which the Coalition expected to seek. The idea of a County Cultural Plan would help remove some barriers and strengthen community bonds.
CULTURAL INVENTORY AND ASSESSMENT
The Lincoln County Cultural Inventory and Assessment plan began with the creation of two subcommittees: one group of five for the Inventory planning, and a group of five for the Assessment. Both groups included a diverse range of people whose defining interests were in the Cultural Arts, Heritage and Humanities.
The Lincoln County Cultural Coalition Planning Committee and the coalition subcommittee groups compiled data for the inventory and assessment forms, which were then assessed.
Distribution of both the assessment and inventory forms was primarily accomplished through a series of County Cultural Summits in Depoe Bay, Lincoln City, Newport, Siletz, Toledo and Yachats as well as at Lincoln County cultural centers (e.g., libraries, museums, performing art centers, etc.). Person-to-person contacts were made by all members of the Planning Committee.
Among the chief findings were significant barriers to cultural participation for residents in outlying rural areas. Likewise, it was thought to be a challenge to promote events to a large segment of Lincoln County residents through the normal media outlets.
In building an accurate picture of Lincoln County’s cultural assets, it was a challenge to reach residents who could be included in a comprehensive Cultural Directory.