Historical society scores funds
A one-time, emergency grant of $76,000 to the Aspen Historical Society won a thumbs-up from the City Council Monday.But, decisions on a $75,000 infusion to the Jazz Aspen Snowmass June Festival and $50,000 to help fund a new tent venue for the U.S. Comedy Arts Festival in February will have to wait.The council sorted through a host of requests for funding next year, primarily for special events and nonprofits, but the historical society proposal was the only biggie to get a nod of approval at last night’s budget work session.However, $15,000 for the Mountain Travel Symposium’s 30th anniversary gathering in Aspen next April was also deemed a no-brainer by the council. The symposium will bring some 250 national and international tour operators to the resort, along with about 120 ski club representatives who make decisions about where to book ski groups.”It’s not only a great piece of business for the town – the first 10 days in April – it’s almost immeasurable, the amount of business it will bring to this resort,” said Rob Henderson, director of marketing at the St. Regis Aspen.”I think this is easily a big investment for us,” agreed Councilwoman Rachel Richards.A three-member majority of the council was also willing to endorse the grant to the historical society, which has already secured $200,000 from Pitkin County to keep its operation running while it prepares to seek voter approval of a taxing district to support it in November 2005.”This is not about a bailout. It’s about an appropriation toward a community asset that’s very important,” said Georgia Hanson, society executive director.”There is no doubt in my mind the value of this organization,” said Mayor Helen Klanderud. “We need the Aspen Historical Society.”Several other requests discussed last night will be weighed in the context of funding decisions yet to come as the council reviews the 2005 budget.Among them is an additional $50,000 to Jazz Aspen, in addition to the $25,000 the city allocated to the event this year and has already built into its 2005 budget.The contribution will go toward the free concerts on the mall and the JAS After Dark performances at local clubs and restaurants after the June Festival concerts in the tent at Rio Grande Park, said executive director Jim Horowitz.”We’re spending about $100,000 just on that free, After Dark program,” he said. “We want to keep doing that, we think it’s very important. We’re asking for the city’s very important help in doing it.”Without the city contribution, the scope of what is offered outside the tent will change, Horowitz said.The Comedy Arts Festival, coming back for an 11th year in February, will lose two of its former performance venues at the St. Regis, according to Joe Lang, director of communications and operations for the event.He requested $50,000 from the city to help fund the cost of a 60-by-70-foot tent at Wagner Park, which would provide a 350-seat venue for Comedy Fest acts.If the event goes as well as last year’s festival, Lang said he hopes HBO will commit to several more years in Aspen. Dates through 2008 have been discussed, he said.”I don’t think we’re putting our best foot forward if we don’t have this venue as an option,” Lang added.Other funding requests still awaiting a decision are $10,000 for World Cup racing in November 2005, up from $5,000 this year; and $43,000 to the Aspen Snowmass Cultural Affairs Commission to market Aspen’s cultural offerings to a target market, primarily in the Denver area.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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