Town of Snowmass discusses public art, funding |

Town of Snowmass discusses public art, funding

A ring sculpture in front of the Snowmass Town Hall.
Anna Stonehouse/Snowmass Sun

Snowmass’ town government wants to enhance its public arts scene and secure a steady stream of revenue to do so.

“I’m really concerned about funding,” Snowmass Mayor Markey Butler opened with at an Aug. 21 council meeting. “I’ll just get right into it.”

The discussion involved two town arts procedures: the Snowmass Arts Advisory Board’s arts strategic plan and its art acquisition policy.

Talk of the arts strategic plan started about a year and a half ago, according to Snowmass Town Manager Clint Kinney; the acquisition policy, which will become part of the plan, arose more recently with controversy surrounding the recently installed sculpture at the main roundabout.

Butler said she remembers being on the Town Council amid the most recent economic recession and feeling pressure to cut funding for public art.

“It was very grim,” Butler recalled. The mayor shortly after said she grew intrigued by how communities close to Snowmass Village handle finances related to public art.

“Should the town be in the business of funding public art or having it as a priority?” Butler posed.

Snowmass Community Development director Julie Ann Woods said the department has “had some discussion” as to what portion of the town’s annual budget would be appropriate to allocate toward public art and other aesthetic improvements.

Woods, who serves as the staff liaison to the arts advisory board, proposed the town also look into the state’s Creative Districts grant program, of which Carbondale is a member.

The Creative Districts “are hubs of economic activity, enhancing the area as an appealing place to live, visit and conduct business as well as generate new economic activity,” according to Colorado Creative Industries site.

“I think it’s been successful in a lot of Colorado communities,” Woods said. A few council members, including Butler and Snowmass Town Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk, expressed interest in learning more about the Creative Districts process as a potential funding avenue for Snowmass Village.

The council also looked at the town of Breckenridge, noting its “thriving” arts scene as well as its status as a Colorado Creative District.

“It’s a very aggressive program in terms of performing arts, visual arts,” Woods said of Breckenridge, noting that the town municipality also allocates a considerable amount of money toward its arts program annually.

In 2016, the town of Breckenridge dedicated about $1.9 million to its arts and culture division.

“That’s a lot of moola,” Butler said. “How do they get there? What percentage of that is in their budget?”

Woods said she would need to revisit the town’s budget, but offered, “my understanding is that’s a very conscious decision” that’s been ongoing for about 20 years, including investments in its amphitheater, riverwalk and art-oriented events.

“We are going to have to find a stable source of funding,” echoed Snowmass Arts Advisory Board chair Joanne Houck.

“I’m not sure if you’re ready to allocate a lump sum (in) your 2018 budget,” Houck said. But the board “is hoping you could set aside $25,000 to help us get started.”

Kinney said the town would revisit and adopt an arts strategic plan and an art acquisition policy before the council discusses its 2018 budget.

The Snowmass Town Council’s first budget talk is slated for Oct. 2.

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