The city is going to take a hard look at the economic impact of arts and cultural nonprofits and invest in its public art collection in 2016.
About 30 nonprofits in arts and culture will share how many people they employ, their volunteers and their annual budgets. An intern will also talk to about 1,000 tourists about their spending, for the fifth national Arts and Economic Prosperity study.
Americans for the Arts, which organizes the study, returns local data to participating municipalities, and it helps participants better understand tourists coming for arts and culture, said Sherri Dugdale, assistant to the city manager.
“When I first got here, there was a belief people only come here to ride the train,” she said.
But data show that is not the case anymore. In 2011, Durango tourists coming for arts and culture spent on average $22.47 at each event in addition to the price of admission, according to the study. This added up to about $3.2 million in spending. To collect new data, the city plans to spend $6,350, she said.
“It will be interesting to compare the results of the 2016 study to the 2011 study. Especially because 2011, which used fiscal 2010 data for the nonprofit organizations, was pretty much at the lowest point in the Great Recession,” Dugdale said.
The city has also set aside cash for three new permanent art pieces that will likely cost between $5,000 to $8,000 each.
Two of the pieces will be installed along the Animas River Trail, one near the Ninth Street bridge and one near Iris Park. The third piece will be installed near Eighth Street between East Second and East Third avenues.
So far, the city has received 45 applications from artists since November, and it will continue accepting them until January.
The city is still working out details on how pieces will be selected.
In the past, the city has asked for public feedback only on the finalists, she said.
The city invests in public art because it builds an identity and fosters a sense of community, Dugdale said.
“It’s part of the character of the community, and it’s visually stimulating. ....Whether you like the Arc of History or not, it made people stop to think about: What is that? Is that art? And it started that whole conversation” she said, referring to the controversial statute at U.S. 550/160.