Yes on 2A will help more in arts community |

Yes on 2A will help more in arts community

When my family first moved to town, the Wheeler Opera House was a shadow of what it is now. The infamous Pub was located in the basement; not a place you would take your mother, but they were lax in checking ID’s. Jon Busch introduced many to innumerable classic, esoteric films upstairs in the threadbare seats of the Opera House, marijuana smoking not discouraged.

Much has changed since then.

The Wheeler Opera House is an important piece of Aspen’s history that has been carefully restored to a point where we are proud to share our community treasure with visitors from around the world. It is an incredible community asset and we are fortunate that our voters saw the value of restoring the Wheeler to her former glory.

In 1979, the City asked voters to approve a 0.5% transfer tax on real estate sales. It also set aside $100,000 in grants for other Aspen area visual and performing arts organizations. The tax was expected to bring in 300K to 400K annually.

Aspen voters approved the tax, real estate prices rose astronomically, and now we have $40 million in the RETT (real estate transfer tax) fund.

While $40 million is an incredible sum of money, I think it is important to consider that in the 42 years since voters approved the original Wheeler RETT fund, that the costs of maintaining and upgrading the historic Wheeler as the world class facility it is, have increased considerably. The costs of funding our various local arts groups have obviously increased as well.

It is my humble opinion that the Wheeler RETT funds should go towards their original 1979 intent: maintaining the Wheeler Opera House as the cultural centerpiece of our town and continue to fund the arts organizations that have become the cultural fiber of our town.

A yes vote on 2A will give Council the flexibility to support local artists, cultural and arts nonprofits, performers, as well as future support for the Red Brick Center for the Arts, another incredibly important piece of Aspen’s arts culture that provides studio space for local artists, arts classes for all ages, and art shows for our local creators.

I ask your support in voting yes on 2A now so that we do not run the risk of outside groups trying to claim the RETT funds for other purposes. Please vote YES ON 2A!

John Doyle