On Tuesday, members of the Steamboat arts community receiv-ed a sobering e-mail from Steamboat Springs Arts Council Executive Director Nancy Kramer announcing what she termed an "unfortunate sign of the times."
The Colorado Council on the Arts (CCA) announced the cancellation of an upcoming grant proposal deadline for 2004 funding, citing unresolved budget issues.
As the state agency struggles to balance next year's budget, scenarios have crossed the table. During the past 18 months, the state's funding for the arts has fallen from $1.9 million in fiscal year 2001-02 to $963,863 in the past fiscal year.
Three arts organizations -- the Steamboat Springs Chamber Orchestra, Arts Council and Strings in the Mountains -- have been recipients of state funding. All may need to look elsewhere, Kramer said.
The Arts Council received $8,100 from the CCA in 2003 to fund the Beaux Arts Festival Week, a new 10-day visual, architectural, performing and culinary arts event.
"The funding for this year is secure, but they are not accepting applications for next year. It will be a challenge," Kramer said.
"It's scary, but it's also a chance for us to restructure. It's not good news, but it will force arts organizations to muster regionally based resources."
The problem, she said, is that Colorado does not have a cultural vision. No cultural trust has been set up to ensure that arts organizations receive funding.
"We just have to look on the positive side of this," Kramer said. "It could be a chance to grow."
Strings in the Mountains received $10,000 this year from CCA and has relied on $8,000 to $12,000 a year for its classical programming since the festival's start 16 years ago, Strings' President Kay Klaggett said.
"This money has been so important to us," she said. "It's the biggest grant we receive."
The cut comes at a time when the music festival plans to move to a permanent building and expand to year-round programming.
"We are writing letters to our congressmen, and there have been protests by arts organizations to try to fight this cut," she said.
There has long been a debate about the value of funding the arts with public money, but "there is absolutely public benefit from a solid arts community," Kramer said. "With our No. 1 industry being tourism, there could be a measurable benefit in creating a cultural base."
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