Arts Council asks associates to give back in fundraising auction

Margaret Hair

If you go

What: Steamboat Art Auction, a fundraiser for the Steamboat Springs Arts Council

When: Silent auction starts at 6:30 p.m. today, live auction starts at 8 p.m.

Where: The Depot Art Center, 13th Street

Cost: $25, includes wine and light food

Call: 879-9008

— The Steamboat Springs Arts Council staff had been talking about holding an art auction for a while.

They started talking about the fundraising option more seriously in late October and early November, as the Steamboat Springs City Council moved to approve its proposed 2009 budget.

“Once we saw where the city was going with its funding, we thought, ‘Well, we’ve never asked the artists to do anything like this, to give a donation.’ We thought we might as well ask,” said Marion Kahn, executive director for the Arts Council.

About 50 of the Arts Council’s more than 500 members came through, donating pieces of original art for live and silent auction. The Arts Council will put those items up for bid at 6:30 p.m. today, with its Steamboat Art Auction and holiday party.

Tickets to the event are $25 and include wine and light food. They will be available at the door of the Depot Art Center.

The Arts Council plans to give 25 percent of the proceeds from each auctioned work to the artist who contributed it. The remaining 75 percent will go toward replacing a more than 60 percent cut in city funding for the organization’s programming.

“This auction really does matter to us, because it’s a crucial time,” Kahn said. Arts Council board member Kelly Anzalone will auction off seven works starting at 8 p.m. Bidding on about 60 silent auction items starts at 6:30 p.m.

The annual operating budget for the Arts Council is about $255,000, Kahn said. In 2008, the city of Steamboat Springs allotted $42,000 to help cover that budget, with the rest being covered by membership dues, fundraisers, private donors, grants and rental fees for the Depot. For 2009, the city has allotted $16,000, which will be divided into a February and a July payment.

To make up the difference, Kahn said the Arts Council staff plans to look at additional fundraisers and go after sponsors to underwrite some of the organization’s signature events, such as Cabaret and Art in the Park. They’ll also make a larger-than-usual effort to renew memberships and to go after new ones.

“I think there will be changes, and I’m sure we will have to look at what we’re doing,” Kahn said. “We’ve been combing through the budget and looking at every possible thing we can cut out. It’s been a very tough year.”

The Arts Council hopes to retain the gallery exhibit programming it has now and expand its educational offerings in the next year, Kahn said.

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