The city may fund the arts differently next year by offering a more targeted grant program through the Community Development Department.
The city is considering setting aside $20,000 for a new place-making grant to be used to engage people in social and cultural activities, Assistant Director of Community Development Nicol Killian said.
Applicants could also receive in-kind support, such as equipment or marketing materials, from the city.
The Durango City Council will consider the potential general fund expense when it votes on the 2018 budget in December. The council seemed to support the new grant programs during a meeting in early October.
The proposed Durango Creates! grant program would support improvements and activities along north Main Avenue and Camino del Rio, such as temporary plazas, pop-up shops, street art and public seating, Assistant City Manager Amber Blake said.
The place-making grant is one of several proposed programs that would build on the Character District plans the city is working on to make north Main and Camino del Rio more walkable and vibrant.
In 2018, the city may also eliminate the $20,000 community block grant that has been redistributed as micro-grants to arts nonprofits, according to the budget.
This year, the Durango Arts Center managed the block grant that supported 13 nonprofits, Executive Director Cristie Scott said. The Durango Friends of the Arts applied to manage the grant next year.
By managing the place-making grant for the arts in-house, the city will eliminate a $5,000 administrative cost that is set aside for an organization to manage the community block grant, Assistant City Manager Kevin Hall said.
Hall said the city did not pit the two grant programs against each other.
Mayor Dick White described the Durango Creates! program, proposed by Colleen O’Brien, the city’s new business development and redevelopment coordinator, as a way of advancing the city’s new commitment to arts and culture that it made in the Comprehensive Plan.
“She really seems to be taking hold in that position as our business development coordinator, and this definitely has been put on her plate,” he said.
In addition to the place-making grant, the Community Development Department may also set aside $35,000 for a 50/50 matching grant program to help businesses improve the facades of buildings and other site improvements, such as signs, seating and sidewalks.
The grants could range from $1,000 to $2,000 during the pilot program stage, Killian said.
“The hope is it will grow, and we will be able to bring in outside funding,” Killian said.
Outside funding could include state, federal or foundation grants, Blake said.