Survey results show Basaltines open to art investments

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
This file photo shows the nonprofit Wyly Art Center, located in a building at Lions Park owned by the town of Basalt. Basalt is included in the Glenwood Springs Micropolitan Area, which has been ranked the No. 1 area with fewer than 1 million people in the National Center for Arts Research's Arts Vibrancy Index.
Scott Condon / The Aspen Times f

A substantial number of Basalt residents are willing to invest public money to boost the arts, according to community survey results released last week.

The survey focused on development, but one question asked, “A number of citizens have indicated that adding art Downtown is important. What would you support?”

Construction of a performing-arts center and building a new Wyly Art Center both received a high level of support. However, no cost estimate was placed on either proposal.

The town’s construction of a performing-arts center downtown was supported by 165 of 688 respondents, or 34.3 percent. The town’s construction of a new Wyly Art Center was supported by 126 respondents, or 26.2 percent.

“The level of support or investment in the arts was much higher than we had expected.”
Town Manager Mike Scanlon

The highest level of support was expressed for a lower-cost proposal. Thirty-six percent of the respondents, or 173 of 688, said they would support the town making “significant upgrades to public spaces with art installations.”

On the other end of the spectrum, 122 respondents, or 25.4 percent opposed any expenditure by the town to support the arts.

Respondents were allowed to pick more than one answer.

“The level of support or investment in the arts was much higher than we had expected,” Town Manager Mike Scanlon said. Even before the results of the study were out, Scanlon was studying what role the arts could play in the revitalization of downtown. He commissioned a study of art parks and art events the town might pursue.

The town government hired an outside company to perform the survey as part of its “Our Town” planning process to determine what types of uses residents want to see on downtown properties. ETC Institute received 481 completed surveys and said the margin of error is +/- 4.4 percent at a 95 percent level of confidence.

“In other words, if this survey was repeated 100 times, 95 times of out 100 you would see the same results within +/- 4.4%,” said a memo to the Town Council.

In another survey question, Basalt residents were asked what uses they would like to see on part of the former Pan and Fork property that can be developed. Restaurants, a hotel and a park were the top answers, but construction of a performing-arts center was among the second tier of answers with support from 21.4 percent of respondents. An art center received another 16.2 percent of the votes.

Respondents were able to select more than one preferred use.

When asked what they would like to see on the former Clark’s Market property, construction of a performing-arts center was the preferred use by 18 percent of respondents while an art center received support from 15.6 percent.

A contingent of Basalt residents is promoting the idea of building a performing-arts center that would be shared by the Basalt schools and the community at large. The group contends that is the most efficient way to spend taxpayers’ money because it avoids building two facilities.

In a memo to the Town Council, Basalt staff said the intention isn’t to “design by survey” but to use the results as a way to test the acceptability of various ideas.