Glenwood won’t ‘risk additional taxpayer funds’ on arts center
Glenwood Springs city government is cutting off financial support for the Glenwood Springs Arts Council following news that the nonprofit expects to close in May amid financial turmoil and a police examination of its finances.
“While our hearts go out to the families who rely on the center’s programming and the employees of the center, the city believes it is imprudent to risk additional taxpayer funds by subsidizing the organization’s operations during an ongoing police investigation,” Assistant City Manager Jenn Ooton wrote in a press release.
Details about that investigation are sparse because it is active, but the art center board announced Thursday that it cannot pay vendors and teachers and likely will close after its “Dancers Dancing” production May 12-13.
Each year the city provides about $50,000 to the arts council from acquisitions and improvements tax money. The city also pays for a public art program, which the art center administers.
“To date in 2017, (the city’s) funding has amounted to $18,861 in salary, $20,000 in direct payments and an additional $10,000 in public art funding,” according to a city statement.
The statement said the city was tipped off to a “lack of financial oversight” in 2015 and passed those concerns back to the art center board.
But according to former board members, the board was alerted to these issues before the city.
Former Vice President of the board Karin Cooper-Phelps told the Post Independent that she and another former board members had reported a litany of concerns, financial and otherwise, first to the board, then to the city in 2015.
“The (art center) board has complete oversight in the management of the Glenwood Springs Arts Council organization, including its finances and director,” according to the city’s press release. “The city did not have any supervisory responsibilities over the Center for the Arts or its director.”
In the absence of an art center, the city is committing to keep some of its biggest programs alive. “If the Arts Council is unable to recover, the city of Glenwood Springs is willing to add arts and dance programming to its offerings through the Parks and Recreation Department and to manage the Summer of Music series as a city event.”
Early this month the Center for the Arts’ executive director, Christina Brusig, resigned, telling the Post Independent she was working too much and lacked adequate support from the board. She expressed shock about the police investigation, which began days after she resigned.