TELLURIDE – The Commission for Community Assistance, Arts and Special Events has once again done its magic, deciding how to divvy up almost a quarter million dollars of town funds among local events, arts organizations and regional nonprofits for the coming year.
As usual, there were winners and losers in the process, with some organizations (San Miguel Resource Center, One to One Mentoring, Chamber MusicFest) getting 100 percent of what they asked for, and others (iCAST, SMARTS Park) getting zilch. Most applicants, however, fell somewhere in the middle, winning some but not all of the money they had requested.
During budget season every year, the Telluride Town Council allocates a chunk of money to CCAASE to distribute through grants. That chunk increased by 10 percent a year ago to a total of $237,500. It includes two discrete pots of money. One goes to arts organizations and special events, and the other focuses on a wide array of programs and community services – mostly nonprofits – that preserve or enrich the health, education, welfare and fitness of the community.
The arts and special events community this year received grants totaling $137,500 to support activities within the Town of Telluride that address the CCAASE mission “to develop, maintain, and encourage the expansion of an environment conducive to festivals, performing arts, visual arts, and special events.”
Community support organizations, meanwhile, received grants totaling $100,000 “to support activities and programs that are accessible to Town of Telluride community and encourage the development of an environment conducive to healthy community organizations that provide programs for citizen welfare and education in the region.”
CCAASE took over the process of deciding how to distribute town funds to various groups and organizations in 2005. Before that, every organization and event committee looking for a hand-out went before the Town Council individually for funding. “It took up too much time,” Gilmer explained. Now council lets CCAASE do the hard work of deciding who should get how much money.
All CCAASE funding comes from town sales tax revenue and other town taxes. While it may seem like resort-town largess to dish out dollars in this manner to entities that have nothing to do with the day-to-day operations of the town, Telluride officials see their annual CCAASE budget allocation as an investment in the local economy.
“We are trying to help the community; a lot of this money goes directly back to the town in taxes and fees,” said longtime CCAASE chair Ron Gilmer. “Our program is the envy of many communities.”
General themes of this year’s CCAASE funding allocations included more funding for arts organizations, preschools and daycare centers, and community support organizations that are fulfilling a demonstrated need in the community, and less funding for some smaller festivals and organizations that failed to meet various grant criteria.
These criteria include:
1. Compliance with CCAASE grant guidelines;
2. Demonstration of unique and necessary services provided;
3. Efforts to promote collaboration with other local nonprofits;
4. Board participation in organization;
5. Long term sustainability strategies and ability to raise funds;
6. Economic impact on Town of Telluride (for arts and events applicants only);
7. Outreach efforts and number of participants; and
8. Compliance with Town of Telluride policies.
The CCAASE committee consists of eight members who are appointed by the Telluride Town Council. Members include representatives from the local school district and a community service organization representative. Each fall, they assess a new batch of grant applications starting in late September. Working individually, each board member considers each grant request and divvies up the budget to get to bottom line. Town staff then takes the average of all eight board members’ funding recommendations for each category, throwing out the high and low amounts.
In early January, the CCAASE board convenes for a review/discussion process to determine if the resulting figures are acceptable, finally coming up with a recommendation which goes before council for approval.
“The process is working out beautifully,” said Town Manager Greg Clifton. “CCAASE does an admirable job of distributing the funds. It’s the one thing they really wrestle with.”
As for the groups that didn’t get funded this year, Gilmer said, “It’s not that they aren’t worthy; they are new and need to hone their proposals, and also they asked for a lot of money.”
The CCAASE grant allocation process welcomes new applicants each year. This year, for example, the Many Hands Fiber Art Festival won $2,000 in funding.
New board members also bring new priorities with them. Several board members now give more weight to a festival’s overall impact on the community when deciding how much money to allocate. Thus, festivals with low numbers of participants (such as the Yoga Festival and Mushroom Festival) got a lot less funding this year than they had asked for.
“Another group we cut back on was the Colorado Avalanche Information Center,” Gilmer noted. “They do a lot around here, but we cut back a bit to be more in tune with what other communities were giving them; we had been giving more than Vail and Aspen. Moneys are tight and we had to figure out what the best use was.”
The 2013 grant process debriefing took place at a CCAASE meeting last week. Grant applicants will be receiving feedback shortly.
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CCAASE recommended the following grant amounts for 2013, which were approved by the Telluride Town Council in late January:
Community Assistance Arts and Special Events
Academy 11,150Ah Haa 12,000
Adaptive Program 8,685AIDS Benefit 3,000
Avalanche 1,500Balloon 2,500
Bright Futures 2,145Chamber Music 4,000
iCAST 0Choral Society 5,530
Lacrosse Club 1,180Film Festival 9,755
Mental Health 12,905Jazz 8,305
Mountain Sprouts 2,500Many Hands Fiber Arts 2,000
Nordic Association 4,000Mtn. Film 9,000
One Telluride 2,500Mushroom 2,500
One to One 6,655Palm Theatre & Arts 12,000
Pinhead Institute 4,630SAF 12,000
Prime Time 2,125Sparky Productions 3,500
Rainbow Preschool 3,000Telluride Arts 34,000
San Juan Field School 1,610Telluride Theatre 10,000
SMRC 13,000Telluride Tourism 1,235
SM Watershed Coalition 1,670Wine Festival 3,175
Second Chance 3,765Yoga Festival 3,000
Ski & Snowboard 4,000
SMARTS Park 0
Soccer Club 2,000
Toddler Town 2,980
University of SM 6,000
Watershed Education 2,000
TOTAL 100,000 TOTAL 137,500