Jim PepperFest fires OCHC fiscal sponsor!

We have fired the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission, for these reasons:

RE: Notice of termination of 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor

February 5, 2014

To: David Milholland, President

Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission (OCHC)

POB 3588

Portland, OR 97208

CC by email

RE: notice of termination of 501(c)(3) fiscal relationship

Mr. Milholland:

Please be advised that the Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival Steering Committee has determined that OCHC has failed to live up to its fiduciary duties as a 501(c)(3) fiscal sponsor of our project, and that we have decided to end our relationship with your organization, effective immediately.

Despite numerous requests from our Steering Committee, OCHC has not provided a complete, factual and proper accounting of the finances of the project, nor has OCHC provided copies of correspondence with sponsors and other partners, copies of grant applications or other documents pertaining to the Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival, nor a complete record of payments OCHC has made or not made to event vendors and performers, whether in the form of cash, check or OCHC tax deduction letters.

Despite two meetings facilitated by Jo Ann Hardesty of Consult Hardesty organized specifically to provide OCHC with the opportunity to produce a complete, accurate fiscal accounting, held at The Rosewood Initiative on December 11 and 30, 2013, OCHC has failed to do so. In fact, OCHC could not explain the report OCHC provided on December 11, and could do no better on December 30. OCHC promised to provide the accounting by January 3, 2014, but we have not heard from OCHC since December 30, and OCHC Treasurer Charlotte Rubin has not responded to requests for information made by Jo Ann Hardesty.

Among our other concerns:

The “final report” OCHC submitted to the Regional Arts & Culture Council (RACC) pertaining to the $ 10,000 Opportunity Grant RACC provided to OCHC for the 2013 Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival was incomplete, inaccurate and misleading. We specifically reject the report.

Furthermore, to the best of our knowledge, OCHC has not provided a final report or fiscal accounting to any of the other event sponsors.

OCHC has not provided the Steering Committee with an explanation for OCHC’s failure to complete the documentation pertaining to the National Museum of the American Indian’s exhibit IndiVisible: African – Native American Lives in the Americas, which was the sole reason that we planned a four-day event, August 7-10, 2013.

Furthermore, OCHC led us to believe that IndiVisible would be delivered to the Parkrose HS Performing Arts Center and available to the public for free viewing during the days August 7-10, 2013, and it was only on the morning of August 7 that the Steering Committee learned the exhibit was not coming. OCHC had been aware of this fact for several weeks prior to the festival dates and deliberately withheld the information.

The absence of IndiVisible forced the last-minute cancellation of the entire daytime program, causing substantial financial loss to vendors and to the project as a whole. We incurred expenses preparing the space at Parkrose High School that would house the exhibit, and yet OCHC knew that it was not coming.

Furthermore, OCHC negligently did not send payment to Upstream Productions for the public viewing rights to the documentary Pepper’s Powwow, which was a key feature of the Festival, and we learned of this fact on August 7, only minutes before the scheduled viewing was to take place. We were forced to cancel the event on the spot.

We incurred expenses printing posters, creating website and social media content and other promotional materials, all of which advertised IndiVisible, Pepper’s Powwow, and our invited performers and all of which OCHC was aware of and/or participated in, and yet OCHC withheld this vital information to the detriment of the project.

OCHC was made aware of the budget requirements of every performer invited to the Festival, every vendor and every known production cost prior to the event. OCHC approved the posters and other advertising pertaining to the Festival, all of which bear the following notice:

“The Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival is a project of the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission 501(c)(3) and a 1000 Nations Production.”

We estimate that the total unpaid debt for this project is in the area of $ 20,000, and we expect that OCHC will present a plan and take effective action to help retire the debt.

OCHC engaged 1000 Nations to manage the Festival production, but knowingly withheld vital information necessary to perform the task successfully, and 1000 Nations is among several performers and vendors who have not received proper payment for services rendered to OCHC.

Be advised that with this letter 1000 Nations ends its relationship with the Oregon Cultural Heritage Commission also.

Most Sincerely,

Executive Committee, Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival Steering Committee

Luciana Proaño

Tony Garcia

Sean Aaron Cruz

Cc: OCHC Board of Directors

Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival Steering Committee

Consult Hardesty

Other Interested Parties




contact: music@jimpepperfest.net

About 1000nations

Sean Aaron Cruz is Executive Director of 1000 Nations and a co-founder of The Friends of Celilo Falls. He is the organizer of the Jim Pepper Native Arts Festival. He is co-author of Winona LaDuke's new book, "The Militarization of Indian Country." He is the father of four children who disappeared into Utah in a Mormon abduction in 1996, and the author of Oregon's landmark anti-kidnapping statute "Aaron's Law" (Senate Bill 1041), named for his late son Aaron Cruz. He writes online as Blogolitical Sean.
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