Visit Bend’s board of directors announced Wednesday the launch of the Bend Cultural Tourism Fund, a grant program dedicated to enhancing the local economy and cultivating the city’s cultural tourism attractions.

In addition to announcing the launch of the program, Visit Bend named the grant administrator and confirmed the appointments of the 13 commissioners who will work with the Visit Bend board of directors to lead the program. 

As outlined in a ballot measure voters approved last year, grants allocated through the BCTF will support art and culture-based projects and programs that attract tourists to the city of Bend.

“The Bend Cultural Tourism Fund marks an exciting opportunity for our community and our economy,” said Visit Bend CEO Doug La Placa. “Building this program has been a positive and collaborative process and serves as a great example of how the tourism and arts communities can work together to create meaningful economic development programs.”

The BCTF is designed specifically to boost tourism during the shoulder seasons and winter months. Traditionally, this is a time of year when the city’s recreation-based tourism industry struggles, but a time when cultural tourism organizations are most active.

The Bend Cultural Tourism Fund hired industry veteran Shannon Planchon to oversee day-to-day operations of the program. Planchon has more than 20 years of experience with arts and culture grant management and administration, most recently as the interim director for the Oregon Arts Commission and Oregon Cultural Trust. Prior to that, she was the Assistant Director of the Oregon Arts Commission for nine years and spent 10 years with the Alaska State Council of the Arts.

Planchon will work with the 13 member commission of the new organization. Commissioners appointed to the Bend Cultural Tourism Fund include:

  • 1 member of the City of Bend’s Arts & Beautification Committee (appointed by the Mayor)
    • Matt Schiffman, City of Bend Arts and Beautification Committee


  • 1 Arts Central board member (appointed by the Arts Central board of directors)
    • Marsha Stout, Arts Central


  • 1 Arts & Culture Alliance board member (appointed by ACA board of directors)
    • Kevin Barclay, Deschutes Public Library


  • 1 Scalehouse board member (appointed by the Scalehouse board of directors)
    • René Mitchell, Scalehouse


  • 1 representative of Bend’s performing or literary arts community (appointed by the Visit Bend board of directors)
    • Amy Mentuck, The Nature of Words


  • 1 representative from a regional or state foundation or granting institution (appointed by the Visit Bend board of directors)
    • Brian Wagner, Oregon Arts Commission


  • 1 restaurant/shopping/entertainment representative (appointed by the Old Mill District)
    • Jaime Aguirre, Ginger’s Kitchenware


  • 1 restaurant/shopping/entertainment representative (appointed by the Downtown Bend Business Association board of directors)
  • Chuck Arnold, Downtown Bend Business Association


  • 2 tourism industry representatives (appointed by the Visit Bend board of directors – not Visit Bend board members)