Aspen committee picks events for public funds |

Aspen committee picks events for public funds

ASPEN – A local committee will recommend to the Aspen City Council that 11 ideas designed to heighten tourism be funded with a portion of the $200,000 set aside to boost the local economy.

Assistant City Manager Barry Crook said the committee met behind closed doors last Friday for 3 1/2 hours to discuss the merits of 26 special event concepts. There was consensus to allocate money to 11 proposals.

“It was a nice, open discussion,” he said, adding the recommendation will be made to the council Jan. 5.

An additional concept was deemed to have merit and worthy of funding but committee members couldn’t agree on how much money to put toward it, so they are leaving it up to the council to decide, Crook said.

The committee chose not to recommend seven proposals for funding and another seven events ought to be pursued with minimal funding for planning.

The committee didn’t allocate the full $200,000, so there is room for new ideas to be funded in the coming months, or if certain events chosen need more money as their planning gets under way, Crook said.

Some allocations meet an individual’s full request and others are intended to be seed money for the proposed event, Crook said.

A significant factor for the committee was whether a proposed event would drive tourists to Aspen, but the underlying theme for many of them was whether a particular proposal would enhance visitors’ experiences and compel them to return to the resort, Crook said.

Champions of each idea earlier this month pitched their ideas to the committee. The individuals behind the events also were asked to submit budgets, although not all petitioners did with their proposals.

The city this past fall came up with an initiative called “mining for ideas,” which asked people to submit ideas that would stimulate Aspen’s economy through special events and “outside-the-box” approaches.

More than 30 ideas were submitted and then the list was whittled down by the committee.

The council will ultimately determine how the money is spent and what events have merit.

Committee members included councilmen Torre and Derek Johnson; Debbie Braun, president and CEO of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association; Julia Theisen, vice president of sales and marketing for ACRA; John Rigney, vice president of sales and events for the Aspen Skiing Co.; Don Sheeley and Bill Dinsmoor representing the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission; Nancy Lesley, special events director for the city of Aspen; as well as Crook, city finance director Don Taylor and City Manager Steve Barwick.

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