Arts director stops on ‘listening tour’ |

Arts director stops on ‘listening tour’

Jennie Lay

Sharp declines in Colorado’s funding for the arts have forced arts organizations to think differently, said Elaine Mariner, the newly appointed executive director of the state-funded Colorado Council on the Arts.

“The arts community needs to frame it in terms of what’s possible,” Mariner said.

Mariner will visit Steamboat Springs today on what she calls her “listening tour.” In addition to a visit to the Yvonne Domenge sculpture exhibit at Centennial Hall and taking in a “Music on the Green” concert at the botanic gardens, she will meet with local arts organizations to hear about the work they are doing and how it benefits residents in the Yampa Valley.

The Steamboat Springs Arts Council is encouraging local arts organizations to gather at 1 p.m. today at the Yampa River Botanic Park to meet Mariner, hear about the state of arts funding in Colorado and learn about new ways their arts programs can reach residents.

“Her visit indicates new leadership,” said Steamboat Springs Arts Council Executive Director Nancy Kramer. Kramer said Mariner has a “new wave of thinking” that should greatly benefit arts programs statewide.

Creative financing has become critical to the state’s arts programs since the 2003 budget cuts. While 2004 saw a slight increase in arts funding, this year’s levels are only at 25 percent of where the state appropriation was in 2001, Mariner said.

The Colorado Council on the Arts receives appropriations from the state and funding through the National Endowment for the Arts, which it then regrants to community arts organizations across the state. Applicants can propose a specific project or a further regranting program on a more local level. All Colorado Council on the Arts grants require a 50 percent match.

Mariner will encourage arts and cultural organizations to speak out about how arts funding benefits their communities, she said. The future of arts funding is “strength in numbers.”

“We all have to work together to tell the story,” Mariner said.

–To reach Jennie Lay call 871-4210

or e-mail

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