The city’s vision for arts and culture is taking shape and may include an arts council, new arts buildings and improving the city’s gateways.
For the first time, the city is including an arts and culture section in its comprehensive plan, which lays out long-term goals.
“The benefit of this is the city is taking arts and culture and science and heritage really seriously as a resource that Durango has,” said Charles Leslie, executive director of the Community Concert Hall.
The city is drafting an update to the comprehensive plan. It is scheduled to be approved before new city councilors are elected in April.
Some of the broad goals are to increase communication and collaboration among the arts community, build new arts facilities, and integrate more public art into the neighborhoods and gateways.
After the plan is complete, the next step could be the formation of an arts, culture, science and heritage board to pursue the outlined goals, said Christi Scott, executive director of the Durango Arts Center. Scott and Leslie are members of a working group helping to create the plan.
The board could be an expansion of the city’s existing Public Art Commission, which focuses mainly on the city art collection, or it could be an independent board.
This new group could help nonprofit groups in town collaborate and pursue funding that could be dedicated to big projects such as new facilities, said Sheri Rochford Figgs, a working group member. This money could come from the city or other sources.
During a public outreach effort, residents asked city officials for better arts facilities, in part because of limitations of the Durango Arts Center, Scott said.
New facilities would take a steady funding steam in addition to revenue venues could generate hosting events and meetings, Figgs said.
One facility idea is a concert venue that could seat between 5,000 and 15,000 people, Leslie said.
This venue could fit in with the plans Mark Katz has floated for building an events center on Ewing Mesa, a property adjacent to Horse Gulch. Katz said when he bought the property he intended to donate a piece of the parcel for pubic use.
A large venue could make Durango a destination for summer festivals, Leslie said.
“Outdoor large festivals are just growing and growing and growing,” he said.
An arts council could help with event scheduling as well, Figgs said.
Better organization between nonprofit art groups through a shared calendar could ensure major events in town don’t conflict and more events are scheduled during the shoulder season, Figgs said.
A board could also help small nonprofit groups with administration and financial oversight, Figgs said.