The Durango Arts Center is back. Back in the limelight, back on line, back in the saddle. All that and back to the
future with renewed energy, commitment and leadership. I believe the DAC is capable of greatness in 2010. Here's why.
We have a new board of directors along with a new slate of officers. Of the 13 board members, 11 are new, and their
skills - developed through years in business, education, the law, the military and, especially, the arts - are
diverse and impressive.
It's a working board whose members serve on committees, raise funds, staff the center and its events and contribute
considerable creativity, time and, yes, dollars. We have board members younger than 30 and older than 60. They bring
a new spirit of optimism and can-do to the DAC.
We also have an active advisory council. Its roster includes John Anderson, Terry Bacon, Linda Bunk, Robert Conrad, Margy Dudley, John Gamble, Christina Erteszek, Polly Garner, Lynne Greco, Joel Jones, Steve Kiely, Mary Ellen Long, Carol Salomon and Bill Vega - a veritable who's who of Durangoans with deep roots in the community and reputations
for commitment and service. Each of these community leaders believes in the absolute necessity of an arts center in
We have appointed Sheri Rochford as executive director. Rochford raised many thousands of dollars during her career
at Fort Lewis College and developed long-lasting relationships between FLC and the people of the Four Corners. Her
administrative skills are exceeded only by her people skills.
With these two groups and the new director it's easy for me to believe the DAC is back on track. These 28 people are
energized to fulfill the center's mission to promote the exploration, education, enrichment and enjoyment of the arts
in the Four Corners.
We are a private nonprofit arts center with almost 500 members and donors intent on supporting and creating art. We
have a 19,000-square-foot building in the heart of downtown Durango, one full-time employee, four part-time folks and
more than 125 volunteers who donated more than 5,000 hours this year.
We spend more than $25,000 per month in the Durango area on exhibits, art education programs, lectures, theatrical
productions, building maintenance, utilities, salaries and debt service. We receive no tax dollars and must raise or
earn every penny necessary to run the DAC.
We have a beautiful gallery and arts library. In 2009, the Barbara Conrad Gallery displayed the work of more than 400
local and nationally acclaimed visual artists. Our gift shop offers paintings, jewelry, glass, silver, pottery and
other innovative pieces created by artists throughout the Four Corners. Last year, more than 7,500 visitors toured
the gallery and gift shop.
But we are more than that.
We have a recently renovated theater and dance studio available to local groups such as the Salt Fire Circus that
played to sold-out houses during two recent runs at the DAC.
We provide space at cost to nonprofit groups such as the Durango Performing Arts Company and the Durango Children's
We have volunteer docents and artists who develop local programs, lectures and interactive experiences for
schoolchildren. We take these programs to schools to supplement art education at no cost to the local school system.
Last year, 611 students in grades K through 5 participated in these classes. In fact, more than 300 art classes were
offered by DAC teaching artists.
I hope you get the picture of an active center for the arts in Durango. We do a lot, but we can do more, and we can
do better. Perhaps what we are is not as important as what we can be. Now, with a new spirit of optimism and
energized leadership, we look to the future.
Let me share my vision.
I see the DAC as the United Way" for all arts and arts organizations in the region. I see the DAC providing a space
for Music in the Mountains and the San Juan Symphony and other nonprofits so they can invest more of their money in
I see the center providing rehearsal and performance space for children's dance, theatre and music. I see the DAC
bringing in nationally renowned artists to teach workshops. I see expanded exhibits, more juried shows and prize
money as well as grants and commissions for local artists.
I see space appropriately equipped to support local artists who teach and mentor. I see workshops and contests for
writers, poets and playwrights. I see resident dance and theater companies doing cutting-edge work at the DAC.
I see an arts center that serves the entire community without competing with other institutions, galleries or
artists. Finally, I see a Durango Arts Center that relies on the people of the Four Corners as its foundation.
The Durango Arts Center cannot support the arts community without the support of the larger community. There are four
things we need from the people of the Four Corners: b Tell us what you want the DAC to be. I've told you what I see, but what do you see? We are revising our long-term strategy and need input.
b Become a volunteer in our gift shop or gallery, staff our reception desk or sell tickets, help in the office. What
do you do best? Call Jeannie at the DAC, 259-2606, to volunteer.
b Become a member and let your voice be heard at membership and board meetings. My goal is to double our membership
to 1,000 in 2010.
b Make a year-end or New Year's gift to the Durango Arts Center. We just kicked off a new fundraising campaign with a
goal of $95,000 by Jan. 31. We desperately need new dollars to shore up existing programs and realize a broader
vision of the DAC as the nucleus for all the arts in the area.
We have fresh, competent leadership who are guardians of a unique resource that has come so very far since it was
begun in 1960. We can accomplish great things if you will get on board. All of us together can create a masterpiece
right here in Durango.
Terry Swan is president of the board of directors of the Durango Arts Center. He is a retired Air Force officer and
university professor. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.