Arts and arts education: The gift that keeps on giving year-round

In the next four weeks, Aspen voters will not only have the opportunity to better protect the future of nonprofit arts organizations for themselves and their fellow citizens throughout the Roaring Fork Valley but to protect their economic futures as well.

Unlike many industries, the performing and visual arts are four season, year-round experiences. These activities are not sensitive to the vagaries of weather, the ages of its participants or even a pandemic.

Collectively, Aspen arts organizations provide audiences and student artists access 52 weeks a year to an astonishing array of art forms; and many were able to persevere these past 20 COVID months, when perhaps the joys of experiencing the arts and coming together were most needed.

Ballot Question 2A on the upcoming ballot protects two of our most precious institutions — The Wheeler Opera House and the Red Brick Center for the Arts, while allowing the council each year to set an expanded, yet responsible budget to help augment arts and arts education activities that benefit thousands of residents and visitors alike. And all this without increasing taxes or touching the Wheeler’s $40 million cash reserves.

Anyone who wants to maintain a healthy and well-rounded cultural and economic Aspen should give this proposal their support. It would be a gift all of us could enjoy.

Jed Bernstein

Theatre Aspen, Producing Director