Glenwood Springs eyes advisory board to promote arts
As the city considers whether to retain ties with the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, a new arts and culture advisory board for Glenwood Springs is seen as a way to bring broader support to the arts.
It also would allow the city to partner with a variety of organizations and spread out any city money that is available, to bring awareness to the arts and open access to arts education opportunities, according to city leaders.
The City Council voted 5-0 at a special meeting last week to create the new advisory board as one of what would now be 13 council-appointed boards and commissions that operate under the auspices of the city.
The move comes as the city is considering pulling its financial support and ending the facility lease for the struggling Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts due to fiscal management concerns. That decision that has been postponed until the Aug. 3 City Council meeting.
In weighing that decision, which comes as the result of a recent audit report detailing questionable expenses and a lack of adequate financial oversight within the organization over the past two and a half years, council members made a point to say that they continue to support the arts.
Formation of the arts advisory board, which will be subject to a second and final reading of the ordinance Aug. 17, affirms that support, they said.
“I think we have demonstrated our support for the arts on many occasions,” Mayor Mike Gamba said. He pointed to the city’s long-standing financial support of the arts center using proceeds from the special acquisitions and improvements tax, and more recently taking over the Summer of Music series when the arts council was unable to proceed due to the financial troubles.
Councilwoman Shelley Kaup said she views the advisory group as a “reset” to help guide the council’s priorities when it comes to supporting the arts within the community.
“Maybe we do need a longer-term board focus to work on coordinating the arts and arts programs,” Kaup said. “We’ve had trouble coordinating these efforts over the years, and having a board dedicated to bringing diverse forms of (artistic expression) and expanding programs to other facilities could be a good thing.”
Councilman Rick Voorhees said it also could be a way to expand the city’s support for the arts into the schools, in addition to nonprofit organizations.
“This could provide an opportunity for us to reach out to the expertise within our community to help with curriculum and programming,” he said.
The idea is modeled after other municipalities in Colorado and elsewhere that have taken their support for the arts to a more formal level. The proposed powers and duties of the Glenwood arts advisory board were borrowed in part from the long-established Boulder Arts Commission, said Glenwood City Attorney Karl Hanlon.
• To promote awareness, access and appreciation of the fine, performing and practical arts for city residents and visitors.
• To advise the City Council in connection with all matters relating to the artistic and cultural development of the city.
• To provide opportunities for cultural and art experience and education for children and adults.
• To promote increased interaction among artists and opportunities for growth and exposure.
• To promote knowledge and appreciation for cultural forms of artistic expression.
• To make recommendations to the City Council with respect to annual budget appropriations for the arts.
• To advise and consult with local arts groups as requested by such groups or by the City Council.
As crafted, the advisory board would include seven members, five of whom would be city residents and two who may reside outside city limits but within the 81601 ZIP code, or who own property or a business within the city.
Two members of City Council may also be appointed as liaisons between the council and the arts board, and city staff members also could be appointed to assist the board in carrying out its duties.
Supporters of the Glenwood Arts Center who were at the Wednesday meeting to lobby for continued city support for the organization also liked the idea of the city advisory board.
Given Colorado’s increased focus on the arts and creative industries, such as architecture and commercial design, Sandy Haber said there may be more opportunities for state grant assistance if the city steps up its own support for the arts.
She pointed to the statewide arts alliance in Florida and the city and county level arts organizations that it supports as an example.
“I think it’s a great idea, and the whole point here is to keep services and arts programs going for both children and adults,” she said.
Arts Center supporter Michelle Diamond agreed with the concept of a city arts board, and encouraged the City Council to continue use of the city-owned former electric building where the center is located for arts programming, whether through the arts council or the city.
“My feeling is Glenwood Springs needs to be associated with the arts, and this can be a way to do it,” she said.
Center supporter Judy O’Donnell said after-school art programs are just as important for the kids who love art as sports are for the kids who love sports.
She advised, though, that even with a more formal city role in promoting the arts that individual organizations are still going to need funding support.
“I suggest you look at what these organizations do and need, and what they need in the way of space,” O’Donnell said. “You are still going to be asked for money by these different organizations.”
Roaring Fork District schools in Glenwood Springs, Carbondale and Basalt are heading into the new school year more fully staffed than in recent years.
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