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Grants help support artists in the state during financial turmoil of COVID-19 pandemic.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wrought financial turmoil for many in the creative sphere, but a new program is awarding $1.25 million in grants to artists throughout Oregon to combat the trend.

Among this year's recipients is Newberg musician Christopher Whyte, who received a $1,000 grant to support his work.PMG FILE PHOTO - Newberg musician Christopher Whyte was among the 646 artists in Oregon to receive a grant through the Oregon Arts Commission

Grants ranged from $1,000 to $5,000 and were awarded to 646 artists of diverse backgrounds in Oregon. The Artist Relief Program was created by the Oregon Arts Commission in a new partnership with the Oregon Community Foundation and the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation.

"Artists are the creative core of our communities and help define who we are," Brian Rogers, executive director of the Oregon Arts Commission, said in a press release. "They inspire us to innovate, to learn and grow. We are thankful to be able to provide support as our artists continue to suffer great losses due to the pandemic.

"While the requests far exceeded available funds, we hope the awards will help artists sustain their practice until better times arrive. We are extremely grateful to our partners at Oregon Community Foundation and the Miller Foundation for making this program possible."

The OAC received a total of 1,158 eligible applications with more than $18 million in lost revenue reported — a staggering number that these grants can only partially replace. The grants were awarded by a group of 29 panelists in five disciplines, with need determined by "published review criteria; professional artistic practice; impact of cancellations and loss of revenue on artistic practice; and need and access to other resources," among other factors. There was an effort to distribute the grants as evenly as possible based on geography in the state.

"The James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation has been supporting Oregon artists for two decades through funding the visual, literary and performing arts organizations that employ Oregon's creative workers," Martha Richards, executive director of the Miller Foundation, said in the release. "In light of the impacts of both the pandemic and 2020 wildfires, we felt it critical to offer our support directly to artists for the first time. Together with our partners in the Artist Relief Program, we hope these grants help our state's artists through this crisis. Now more than ever, we recognize artists' vital role in our communities and consider their creativity and contributions as vital to our state's recovery."

For more information, a full list of grant recipients by county is available at

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