Discussion puts Glenwood Springs Historical Society on road to success | PostIndependent.com

Discussion puts Glenwood Springs Historical Society on road to success

Glenwood Springs Historical Society Director Bill Kight points to the location of the leak in the photo collection room in the basement of the museum on Colorado Avenue.
Chelsea Self/Post Independent

Glenwood Springs City Council and the Glenwood Springs Historical Society had a work session Thursday to decide the financial future of the nonprofit organization. 

“I really appreciate their willingness to work with us and partner in a way that we never have before, because I think that’s what it’s going to take for us to be successful and we accept the recommendations and we’ll be working on them,” Executive Director Bill Kight said at the end of the meeting.

Council spent an hour and a half negotiating ways to help make the Historical Society be a more sustainable nonprofit that will not require the majority of its funding from the city.

“Let’s move forward in a way that we can make this a viable organization that we could support to some level on a financial basis, whether it’s by matching funds, consulting, whatever it may be,” Councilor Charlie Willman said.

It was made clear by City Council that they have no interest in taking over the Historical Society, but council members instead showed interest in possibly partnering and offering ways to help.

Council members also said they don’t want to micromanage the nonprofit and the Historical Society board. Council just wants to help make sure it will be sustainable going forward.

“You need to run the books like a business, but you also need to secure revenue to keep up with what those costs are,” Councilor Shelley Kaup said. 

Kaup also mentioned offering grant writers from the city for additional help, which the society sounded very interested in. Although she was happy to offer the grant writing, it is not the only solution. 

“We can’t just rely on grants because they’re sporadic; it’s not long-term funding,” Kaup said. “We need to build that face within the community.”

It was also implied that City Council wants to pay the Historical Society the additional funding it is requesting, while making sure there are other avenues of funding along with the extra $60,000 the Historical Society is requesting.

Willman said the city didn’t do this with the Glenwood Springs Arts Council, and he is happy council is taking the time instead of just handing over the funding or causing them to shut down. 

Mayor Jonathan Godes commented how future councils could decide they want to drop all funding, and the Historical Society would not have the funding to stay open on their own, hence the need for sustainability and diversifying funding.

One idea that was proposed, but not decided on was to possibly have the city hire a consultant as an investment for the society to diversify funding and find more donors. 

Altogether there were 42 letters in correspondence for the society, and Council is curious if the people who took the time to write letters would also be interested in donating funding as well. The Historical Society is also interested in localizing funding.

“We bring 600 people in this community, 75% of which are from out of town,” Kight said.

He’s happy to have the out-of-town profit, but said he wants to figure out how to get more local funding from donations and events. 

“I think the Ghost Walks are fantastic, but events are just the biggest time suck in the world,” Godes said. “Don’t look at the Ghost Walk as we should do five of these because then we’ll make more money, because that will suck all of your time.”

Godes said that straight-up cold calling and asking donors will be the easiest and most successful option.  

When Kight was asked to summarize what the organization offers to the community, he said past and present ways of preserving the historical past. The Historical Society has already been taking time to preserve the current Latino community in Glenwood Springs. 

“So to me, it’s a keeper of history,” Kight said. “It’s not just the past, but it’s also the present, making sure that it’s preserved.”

More Historical Society meetings are anticipated before it comes back to Council, but participants indicated it was an overall successful work session. 

“I’ll be meeting with the mayor in a couple of weeks and to further some of their suggestions, so we’re really happy that this happened today and we’re glad that they support us the way they do,” Kight said.

Post Independent reporter Cassandra Ballard can be reached at cballard@postindependent.com or 970-384-9131.

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