Students flock to Anderson Ranch Arts Center |

Students flock to Anderson Ranch Arts Center

Katie Redding
The Aspen Times
Aspen CO, Colorado

SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” Staff at the Anderson Ranch Arts Center were spending more time cleaning than making art last Thursday.

Summer classes were set to begin on Sunday at the Snowmass Village arts center, and the buildings needed to be ready. In the ceramics studio, 46,000 pounds of recently-arrived clay had to be put away.

But in the printmaking studio, the relative chaos of an unfinished project took over a table in the otherwise spotless room.

“They will be working [on their own art] right until the last minute,” said president Hunter O’Hanian of the artistic staff, smiling.

This summer, the ranch will host 1300 students in 145 week-long or two-week classes taught by visiting artists. About 220 of those students will be children, and about 70 percent will be from out-of-state, according to O’Hanian. About 20 percent will be on a 100 percent scholarship, he added. Disciplines include art history and critical studies, ceramics, digital media and photography, furniture and woodworking, printmaking, painting and drawing and sculpture.

“It’s really about the opportunity to let people pursue their artistic endeavors in a supportive community,” O’Hanian said.

In the winter, the ranch fills its studios with its artist residency program for emerging and established artists. Selected by an independent jury from 300 applications, the 28 artists pay only $100 for a two or three-month stay.

Throughout the year, the ranch also hosts 5,000 to 6,000 people at about 70 free public events. During the summer, artists present most Sunday nights, as well as many other nights throughout the week.

In the last year or two, the ranch has focused more on community outreach to local schools, as well, said O’Hanian. Last year, they brought in all the art teachers in the Roaring Fork Valley to facilitate an open dialogue among them. The ranch has also provided a “portfolio day” to local high school students applying to art school, exhibition space to Aspen High School’s International Baccalaureate program, and trained artists in the valley to teach a visual art/literacy program to third and fourth-grade students.

The 4.5 acre arts center was once a sheep and horse farm, says O’Hanian. Some of the old structures remain, lending the facility a ranch feel that belies the state-of-the-art equipment inside. But art attached to the buildings ” or in some cases pressed into the structures themselves ” reminds visitors that while they might be in the mountains, they are at an arts school that O’Hanian argues is the equivalent of any medium-size or large university arts department.

With 55,00 square feet, the facility is pretty well built out, according to O’Hanian.

“I’m told that we have about 75 square feet left,” he quips.

Of the 27 staff, eight have on-campus housing. The rest live nearby or down-valley, says O’Hanian. Students are largely housed in a 32-bed dormitory or in housing that the ranch rents.

When Snowmass Village was originally being developed, the developers made this land available to several artists, according to O’Hanian. Eventually, he said, the artists decided to hold classes in the hopes of brining in some revenue.

About half of the money now raised each year is earned from class tuition and fees, supply sales, an art store, housing and a cafe. About half comes from donations. Of the donation revenue, approximately a million was raised last year through special events, and another $1,367,366 was given by private donors.

The ranch also receives money from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Colorado Council for the Arts, the town of Snowmass and the city of Aspen, said O’Hainan.

The cost of putting on programs was the greatest expense for the ranch last year, at $1,766157. Administration and marketing was next, costing the ranch $1,058,083. Program services cost $622,371, special events cost $428,373 and fundraising expenses were $374,076.

After a successful fundraising campaign, the ranch saw its net assets rise from 9.9 to 12.4 million in the 2006-2007 fiscal year.

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