Historical society deserves a ‘yes’ vote | AspenTimes.com

Historical society deserves a ‘yes’ vote

Dear Editor:The current Aspen Historical Society quest for public funding has caused some people to reflect on its deservedness versus other nonprofit quests for support. I submit that it is not an either/or situation but instead a solution for one of our important institutions. As president of the Aspen Art Museum board of trustees, a trustee of the Aspen Music Festival and School, and a former board member of the Aspen Historical Society, I am perhaps rather well-qualified to make this argument.The fact is that the historical society is “different” from other Aspen nonprofits – in that the establishment of a special district is a measure restricted by law to historic sites. The district will enable a part – note, just a part – of the historical society’s operating expenditure to be guaranteed. In every part of the United States, a portion of historical museums operations are funded by the community, and Aspen should be no different.There may be those who question the need for such special treatment in a town so apparently flush with philanthropy, and suggest that the historical society raise funds along with the rest. My understanding is that the society will still have to raise a good portion of its income through contributions and grants. The fact of the matter is that with a small staff with many responsibilities, the historical society does not have the resources to raise its entire budget. Funding the behind-the-scenes work of a serious historical museum is a harder proposition to sell than, for example, the visible world-class arts, classical and jazz music, dance, etc., as well as intellectual institutions that Aspen is home to. Nor is there a regular performance-based income to rely upon.The creation of a special district for the Aspen Historical Society will ensure that this essential nuts and bolts work will continue. Nonprofits in Aspen, all of which receive a measure of public funding, will do well to support the Aspen Historical Society in its bid for a firm, financial footing – the strength of every organization in Aspen strengthens us all. Dick OsurAspen