Wheeler RETT question: Where’s the oversight?
Everybody knows how to spend someone else’s money.
On the surface 2A looks straight forward — increase the Wheeler arts grants from $100,000 a year.
There is no oversight specified in the ballot question. There is no limit on the amount of repurposed money in the ballot question. Do you trust this and all future Aspen City Councils to spend the money?
Here are some facts:
The Wheeler arts grants were over $400,000 last year because revenues from the building rentals go into the grants fund. You buy a burger at the Aspen Public House and you help fund the arts in the valley.
There is nothing in the current ordinance which prevents using the Wheeler RETT funds for booking productions in the Wheeler or even in other local venues if they are “produced by the Wheeler.” The Wheeler real estate transfer tax money was used for shows like Jane Wagner and Lily Tomlin’s “The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe,” which went on to win a Tony and multiple Drama Desk awards . The Wheeler RETT money was used to pay the booking fees for artists Harry Connick Jr., Lyle Lovett, John Denver, Spalding Gray, María Benítez, Trevor Noah, and many others. What other acts could we book with that $40 million? (go ahead, ask me — I’ll tell you)
There is nothing which prevents the Red Brick from applying for a Wheeler grant to fix the plumbing. (The management of the Red Brick could be a very long sidebar.)
The Wheeler RETT money has been used to rehab the balcony, the bar, the lobby and the exterior stone. We are not done. Little if any of that money has been used to improve the stage facilities. (seriously it’s like a restaurant with a great FOH and one burner in the back).
It still boils down to this. When you look at 2A, ask yourself who would you trust with $40 million without oversight?