Glenwood Springs Arts Council regrouping
The Glenwood Springs Arts Council is gearing up for 2018, and board members are eager to move forward and serve the community’s cultural needs after a rough past year.
The organization previously ran the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, which had to close last year amid financial difficulties and a decision by the Glenwood Springs City Council to pull financial support.
In its ongoing efforts to regroup, the Arts Council held its annual meeting last Friday.
The organization’s debt is now between $24,000 and $25,000, said new Executive Director Brie Carmer, and it has $7,325 in its checking account. The center’s financial problems emerged last spring, with an estimated $68,000 of debt.
The current money owed doesn’t reflect the sale of the council’s piano, which the Ute Theater in Rifle has purchased for $15,000. The theater has a year to pay off the piano, said acting board President Judy O’Donnell. The piano money will help pay down the remaining debt.
“It’s in a good home, and that’s what was important,” O’Donnell said.
The art center’s debt became public shortly after Christina Brusig resigned from the executive director role in April 2017. The city withdrew its $50,000 annual support, which largely covered the director’s salary, and asked the center to vacate its leased space in the old hydroelectric building, which it did by the end of October.
Brusig has since pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor theft charges stemming from up to $2,000 in questionable expenses that showed up in a city audit of the arts center’s finances. Her trial is scheduled for May.
At the meeting last week, Arts Council members also voted in new board members during the meeting, and discussed future plans. The new members are Lisa Girardot, who the board appointed as secretary, and Bonnie Kratovil, appointed vice president. Kratovil is also a member of the Glenwood Springs Arts and Culture Board.
That group, formed by City Council at the same time the city pulled its support for the nonprofit arts group, serves as a city advisory board and is overseen by the Glenwood Parks and Recreation Department.
O’Donnell said she expects the city’s advisory board will give increased significance to the local cultural scene. The board has met once so far, Kratovil said, and will prioritize outreach to all community arts groups.
“Everyone is well aware of the rich history of Glenwood and wants to preserve it and grow it,” Kratovil said.
Because it is still early in development, the city board’s programming plans are not yet settled.
As part of its arrangement with the city following last year’s financial troubles, the Arts Council agreed not to offer programming through the end of 2017. However, the council now plans to offer summer camps, as it has in the past, and will seek to complement the city’s programming efforts.
“We don’t want to compete, we want to collaborate,” Carmer said.
Several of the center’s former teachers were among the group that met last week, and they expressed a desire to see arts classes offered as soon as possible, whether by the city, the council or both.
“The people who have suffered the most through this whole thing are our children, and we’re going to make it right,” pottery teacher Judy Davis said.
Dance Director Maurine Taufer is likewise eager to reinstate dance classes. “The Arts Council obviously had a well-publicized rough patch, but that doesn’t erase 35 amazing years we’ve had with the Arts Council,” she said.
The council’s first 2018 fundraiser is the fifth-annual 6×6 exhibit, which will open Feb. 9 at the Melby Building in downtown Glenwood Springs. To prepare, a community paint day is scheduled from 9 a.m. to noon this Saturday at Two Rivers Community School, and interested artists of all skill levels can also contact O’Donnell at 505-716-1354 to pick up a canvas.
Artists may also submit 6×6 creations on other surfaces, so long as they conform to the 6-inch-square dimensions.