PGE Foundation Aids Oregon Arts and Culture Sector Especially Hard-Hit by COVID-19 Pandemic

$235,000 in grants reinforce foundational part of Oregon’s economy, including rural and culturally specific communities

May 11, 2020

Portland, OR – Today, the PGE Foundation, the corporate foundation for Portland General Electric, announced grants of $235,000 to 20 Oregon arts and cultural organizations. The PGE Foundation is committed to creative expression programs for youth and communities and recognizes this important sector of our economy has been especially hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Arts and culture are a significant part of what makes Oregon a wonderful place to live, work and play – as well as critical piece of our economy. Unfortunately, at a time when we cannot safely gather in person, many arts and cultural organizations are struggling to get by,” said Kregg Arntson, executive director of the PGE Foundation. “The PGE Foundation recognizes this difficult time and is walking alongside our longtime community partners to find new ways to improve the lives of Oregonians, recognizing creative expression programs for youth and communities are critical to a well-rounded education. In this unprecedented time, we are focusing our support on ongoing operations and the creation of virtual experiences to continue to serve Oregon youth.”

According to the Cultural Advocacy Coalition, Oregon arts and cultural organizations reported estimated financial losses of $51 million from March through May. Ninety-four percent of respondents had to cancel events with an estimated audience loss of more than 1.7 million. In addition, students are not benefiting from in-person arts education experiences, and many employees of arts and cultural organizations are being laid off.

Given the impact of the public health crisis on this critical part of our community and economy, the PGE Foundation accelerated its yearly grantmaking schedule to provide grants as soon as possible to Oregon’s foundational arts and cultural organizations. The Foundation also adjusted its grantmaking strategy to provide unrestricted funds to support general operations and innovative efforts to provide virtual creative experiences to students, with a focus on existing partners considered anchoring cultural organizations in Oregon and rural and culturally specific arts and culture organizations.

For example, the Salem Arts Association Arts & History Immersion Program is finding new ways to provide 4th-grade students in Title I schools with continued access to cultural resources while schools are closed. Program staff are creating YouTube video tours of Bush House Museum and adapting art lessons that can function virtually to be shared on social media and the website. Their goal is to have them ready for June 2020. When on-site tours resume after the COVID-19 pandemic has passed, the virtual tours will continue to provide teachers and students with online supplementary materials. The virtual learning component will build out programming and reach more schools, potentially serving more 4th grade students than the on-site model alone.

This year’s awardees include:

  • Arts Council of Pendleton
  • Caldera
  • Confluences
  • Literary Arts, Inc.
  • Metropolitan Youth Symphony
  • Milagro
  • NAYA Family Center
  • Oregon Ballet Theatre
  • Oregon Children's Theatre
  • Oregon Historical Society
  • Oregon Symphony
  • Portland Art Museum and NW Film Center
  • Portland Center Stage
  • Portland Opera
  • Portland Playhouse
  • Right Brain Initiative (year two of four-year commitment)
  • Salem Art Association
  • World Stage Theatre
  • WorldOregon
  • Young Audiences of Oregon

About PGE and the PGE Foundation’s COVID-19 Response: During this unprecedented time, PGE is focused on helping their customers and caring for their employees while continuing to provide safe, reliable and affordable service. To assist customers facing hardship due to the public health crisis, PGE has suspended disconnections and late fees. PGE committed $250,000 in energy assistance to impacted customers and is providing flexible payment plans. PGE has information and resources on their website for small business customers and residential customers worried about paying their bills, and customer service advisers are at the ready to assist by calling 503-228-6322 or 800-542-8818. PGE also shared energy-saving tips with customers who are at home and trying to reduce energy costs.

To support community partners serving Oregonians in need, PGE and the PGE Foundation have also committed more than $1 million to the following organizations:

  • $620,000 for educational programs in our region, supporting several non-profit organizations with unrestricted dollars to help reduce their burdens as they respond in real-time to the crisis, many of which are pivoting their activities toward supporting families and youth through digital learning opportunities.
  • $350,000 to address food insecurity and other immediate customer needs by supporting the Oregon Food Bank, Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon and Marion Polk Food Share.
  • $25,000 to four nonprofits located across our service territory that provide resources such as energy assistance and emergency food aid for our communities.
  • $20,000 to 211info, which connects people with health and human services.
  • $30,000 to support immediate community needs through Oregon Community Foundation’s (OCF) Community Recovery Fund.
  • $50,000 to support small businesses through OCF’s Small Business Stabilization Fund.

Lastly, PGE donated 9,000 N95 masks to local healthcare providers. To ensure ongoing employee safety, PGE has taken comprehensive steps, including working from home, staggered work schedules and enhanced cleaning as they continue to get customers the power they need, when they need it. Learn more about PGE’s response to COVID-19.

About the PGE Foundation: The PGE Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Portland General Electric. Founded in 1997, the foundation was created through an endowment with the expressed purpose of improving the quality of life for Oregonians. Since its inception, the foundation has awarded more than $23 million to community organizations across the state. We champion values that embrace diversity, equity and inclusion. Working together with community members, partners and friends, we are committed to using our time and resources to help eliminate disparities and create an equitable society where all people can reach their full potential.

For more information contact: Elizabeth, Lattanner, 503-464-7016, Elizabeth.lattanner@pgn.com