Aspen to Host Community Engagement to Consider Public Art Program | Culture & Leisure

A public arts commission could be on the horizon for Aspen, following promises from city officials that talks will soon begin about a community conversation about what such a program might look like.

Members of the public have made public comment appearances at several regular Aspen City Council meetings in recent weeks to ask the council to consider forming a public arts commission. While Aspen has no shortage of arts festivities and organizations, the city does not currently sponsor any public art exhibits. Some community members are pushing for this to change.

“With the passage of the code amendment to Ordinance No. 19 to permit the use of the [Real Estate Transfer Tax] in support of the cultural, visual and performing arts, including support for the Aspen Red Brick Center for the Arts, Aspen has a new opportunity to make a significant investment in the Aspen Idea to nurture the whole person, by encouraging the exploration of arts, music, ideas and nature,” said Breeze Richardson, executive director of Aspen Public Radio, during a public comment on Tuesday.

She added that more than 30% of respondents to a recent community survey published by APR said they wanted more arts-dedicated coverage. Richardson’s comments were followed by further encouragement from Aspenite Sarah Pletts, who spoke at several recent council meetings, to invest RETT funds in a public arts commission.

“There is a lot of talk about letting the spirit of our city darken,” she said Tuesday. “But funding artists… it is fair to ask that a third of RETT funds go to the arts, visual arts and cultural performing arts.”

Following public comments, Mayor Torre said council would follow the topic of an arts commission during budget discussions over the next two weeks. The budget discussion will hopefully lead to a community engagement process that could begin as early as January and last six to eight months. City Manager Sara Ott added that staff will be coming back to council to request funding for a community conversation that should help lead to next steps and identify community priorities.

“It’s going to be a real benefit to our community going forward and we want to make sure we do it right,” Torre said on Friday. “It’s also about connectivity and community engagement, not just about making Aspen prettier – because quite honestly, you can’t make Aspen prettier. Look at the hills. But it’s really about connectivity and community engagement, and I think that’s an important part of that.

Torre added that he originally favored a more expedited process, but acknowledged that it takes time to build a successful program and do it right.

If the city moves forward with a public arts commission, Aspen will join other towns in the Valley, from Snowmass Village to Glenwood Springs, that have some sort of public art council. The Carbondale Public Arts Commission was established in 1999 and annually presents all forms of public art exhibitions throughout the community. Each June, the commission chooses 15 sculptures to display on Main Street for an annual rotating show. The show brings a variety of works and artists to the city each year and gives artists a place to showcase their creations.

“It’s the only type of exhibit in town that’s active and continually brings in new art, and I think that’s a huge benefit to the town,” said Laurie Lindberg, works liaison city ​​audiences with CPAC. “The goal has always been to try to bring in more local artists and a new variety of artists.”

CPAC is supported by the city’s board of directors and the public works department, which includes a line item for the program in its budget each year. Lindberg said it shows how important art is to city government. She added that CPAC would not be what it is today without the past commissions that laid the groundwork, and that it is important for any community to have a group of dedicated and experienced volunteers to serve on the commission. in order to bring business, marketing and art knowledge to the organization.

“I think it shows that Carbondale is putting an effort into urban areas and that art is an important priority at Carbondale, and to tie into that, it also shows the support of the Carbondale Board of Directors. Without their support, this wouldn’t be the program it is,” Lindberg said. “It’s constant financial support, and it’s also supported by public works, which is really cool for artists because they don’t always get that in the communities, so they like to come back and have fun. in Carbondale.”

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