February 12, 2010

Bailey Arts Co-op Idea Making Progress

by: Tom Locke, Flume Editor

The Cultural Council of Park County is ready to take commitments from artists for a co-op to be leasing space at Rustic Square in downtown Bailey, said Paul Hood, owner of Bailey-based Mountain Spirit Counseling, at the Feb. 9 Platte Canyon Area Chamber of Commerce meeting.

In a follow-up interview, his wife, Helen Hood, said that she and her husband have both been going to meetings of the Cultural Council, which has been looking at modeling a new arts co-op in Bailey after the Shadow Mountain Gallery, a successful co-op in Evergreen.

Vincent Tolpo, co-owner of Shawnee Mountain Gallery and president of the Cultural Council, has been spearheading the effort to establish a cooperative and stressed that a draft letter and application for artists has not yet been approved.

A Feb. 6 e-mail from Tolpo provided many details about what's being considered. It announced to a number of recipients that the Cultural Council board would meet on Feb. 10 at 6 p.m. at the Bailey Library to discuss and approve the "Cultural Center Artist Cooperative" (CC/AC). The e-mail had a draft letter from the cooperative and application for artists attached.

Tolpo said the artist cooperative needs about 30 people to commit and so far has about a dozen. "The only thing that will stop it (the co-op) is if we fail to get enough artists involved," he said.

Right now, he said, the Cultural Council has been looking at two adjacent spaces at Rustic Square totaling about 1,500 square, and the lease terms are under negotiation, he said.

Rustic Square is attractive because it is near McGraw Memorial Park and because it has easy access from U.S. 285, Tolpo said. McGraw Memorial Park has also received a grant for nearly $150,000 to be used on revamping the park.

To accommodate the classes and workshops, and maybe even a coffeehouse - which Tolpo sees as important to the nonprofit aspect of the co-op - he thinks two spaces at Rustic Square would be needed. The Cultural Council would oversee the co-op to ensure it is operating as it should as a nonprofit.

Tolpo said that if the number of interested artists isn't high enough to support a permanent gallery, it's possible that the interested artists may do temporary shows, perhaps for a month at a time at different locations.

The draft letter attached to Tolpo's Feb. 6 e-mail addresses artists and arts activists and states: "The CC/AC will host artists and arts activists representing a variety of fine arts, fine crafts, performers and other cultural programs. This is a non-profit tax-exempt program of the Cultural Council of Park County. The operation of the CC/AC is the responsibility of the artists and art activist members."

The letter also talks about jury sessions for each artist's work. They will be designed to maintain a high quality of work at the co-op, said Hood.

The letter goes on to explain how the co-op would work.

There would need to be a minimum of a 12-month commitment by the artist, with a six-month probation period. The monthly artist rental fee would be $50 for a full space or $25 for a half space. There would also be a $75 one-time membership fee. Plus, there would be a work commitment from the artist. "On average each artist must work one day per month and may be requested to add an additional day during the calendar year," says the letter.

Plus, the CC/AC would get a 25 percent commission on works sold.

Hood said that money would go into operating expenses and is less of a percentage than the 35 percent commission charged at Shadow Mountain Gallery. Some co-ops charge even more commission than that, she said.

Tolpo said that Shadow Mountain Gallery has indeed been a model, but it is different in that it has no nonprofit component and there are no classes or performances tied to it.

He also stressed that the co-op may very well change over time in terms of commissions and fees. "Nothing is set. You adjust to the market," he said.

In terms of qualifying to be in the co-op, the draft letter states: "Artist jury sessions are held two times a year, but more often if vacancies arise. Applicants will be notified of the next jury session. Applicants should bring 4-6 representative examples of the work they would plan to show if accepted."

Tolpo also said that another group, called the Platte Canyon Business Guild, has business people such as Bea Everest and Jerry Humphrey involved, and it is looking at establishing a similar type of cooperative. It will be meeting on Feb. 16 and Tolpo will be there. He said it's possible the two groups may cooperate.

"We're all trying to find our way. There is no one way that's right," he said.

The key now, said Helen Hood, is to get enough artists interested in committing so that a lease could be signed for space at Rustic Square.

"We don't have a lock on it, and it is for lease," she said. "We're trying to move as fast as we can."

Chamber Brainstorming

Brainstorming Bill Kulenburg, president of the Platte Canyon Area Chamber of Commerce, writes down ideas for all to see as they are suggested during a brainstorming session at the Platte Canyon chamber meeting on Feb. 9. Paul Hood, who led the brainstorming, said during the meeting that the Cultural Council of Park County was ready to take commitments from artists for a co-op. (Photo by Tom Locke/The Flume)
In addition, the chamber meeting included a brainstorming session that led to a ranking of ideas for the chamber to work on, and the one most favored by votes of the members was developing a master plan for the community.

Better communication and workshops to help businesses rounded out the top three favorites of the members.

The brainstorming, which was led by Paul Hood, focused on what the chamber could do for its members.

Those who volunteered to help on developing a master plan for the community included Rhonda Davis, Jerry Humphrey, Bea Everest, Barbara Jerome Behl, Mel Schulman, and Ron Thorne.

Other ideas that were suggested and written down during the brainstorming session included the establishment of a rec center or community center, getting broadband Internet access into more areas, incorporating Bailey as a town, making locals more aware of the importance of shopping locally, keeping business profiles as part of the meetings, establishing a vision statement, establishment of a health clinic, and having a meeting with the Small Business Administration separate from the chamber meeting.

The ideas were written on large sheets at the front of the room and members voted by putting a mark by their two top choices.

Board Resignations

Mary Sasser and Linda Henley resigned from the board of directors of the chamber.

Henley said in an e-mail to The Flume:

"The board was kind of an experiment for me, but it turns out not to be a good fit. The surveys and the members are asking the board to be more business oriented, whereas I'm more community oriented, which is the same but different. I have supported the chamber for many years by being a worker bee, and hope to continue in that capacity."

Sasser said in an e-mail to The Flume that she did not resign; she simply did not renew her membership.

"The current Board & I are on different pages...and that's okay." she said in the e-mail. "I just don't want to be associated with the Chamber anymore, and that should be okay too. I've done a whole lot of work in, with and for my community in the last several years that I'm very proud of. Nobody can change that fact. I'll still be serving our wonderful community, just in different venues - that's all!"

Platte School District

Bea Everest, a member of the board of education of the Platte Canyon School District, noted that the school district now has adopted a three-year financial plan under tough budgetary circumstances "without dismantling the school system," and she praised Superintendent Jim Walpole for his leadership. "We probably have the best superintendent in the state working at our schools," she said.

Good Health

Harmonie Stone announced an eight-week series of talks on acupuncture, Chinese herbs, nutrition and other means to good health. They will start on Feb. 15 and last through April 5 and will be each Monday from 6:30-7:30 p.m. at the conference room of Parkview Plaza at Pine Junction, 13700 U.S. 285. There will be refreshments and a $5 donation is requested. Call 303-838-3030.