BreckCreate adjusts mission to enhance arts for locals over driving tourism | SummitDaily.com

BreckCreate adjusts mission to enhance arts for locals over driving tourism

A visitor poses for a photo in front of the Aura installation, by Julie Hughes, along the Blue River during the WAVE festival last summer. Breckenridge Creative Arts, the nonprofit organization that produced the festival, is revisiting its mission to focus on enhancing the local experience through the arts rather than driving destination tourism.
Hugh Carey / hcarey@summitdaily.com

Breckenridge Creative Arts has been afforded a wide degree of latitude to chase artistic enterprises, but as the young arts organization continues to mature, so too are the expectations of it.

Breckenridge Town Council is engaging in a new assessment of the nonprofit organization, also known as BreckCreate, whose $2.9 million budget this year is largely due to $2.3 million in taxpayer funding.

With the assessment, the BCA will be moving away from its mission of driving tourism by promoting arts and culture in Breckenridge in favor of enhancing the artistic experience for the people already here.

The retooling of the BCA comes as the 5-year-old organization is starting to come into its own and mature a bit, said Robb Woulfe, the president and CEO, who agreed the shift represents a significant change in direction that’s guided the artistic-minded nonprofit since town officials created the BCA in 2014.

“I think the big shift that came out of this (assessment) — and in some ways we’ve been planning for it for six to 12 months now — was this idea of how do we redirect our focus into more local relevance so the work that we’re doing is impacting residents,” he said.

Breckenridge’s many visitors can certainly take advantage of any of the BCA’s locally targeted offerings, but Woulfe framed the biggest question for the organization moving forward as a fairly simple one: Is the BCA’s mission more about catering to guests or is it about serving locals?

Over the last five years, the BCA has existed to promote tourism in Breckenridge, and Woulfe said that the town’s given the BCA “a long leash” to try different things, seeing what works and what doesn’t.

As a result, the BCA might be best known for producing a handful of recurring, large-scale events like WAVE and the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts, though the organization has also been tasked with managing the town’s art facilities and producing much smaller activities.

While the assessment found the BCA has been successful attracting people seeking creative experiences to Breckenridge with its festivals, Woulfe said the organization is looking at how it directs these resources as it seeks to put a focus on efforts to enhance the local experience.

This could mean more classes and workshops, additional opportunities for more non-traditional artistic mediums or “getting your hands dirty,” or a better utilization of the town’s arts facilities, like the Riverwalk Center and Arts District campus.

According to Woulfe, most of the $2.3 million received in taxpayer funding this year will actually go to support facility operations, along with maintenance and administration costs.

In addition to covering the mission, the assessment performed by AMS Planning & Research has suggested the BCA could better collaborate with local arts organizations and drive higher usage rates of town-owned arts facilities, both of which would feed into the organization’s efforts to enhance the local experience.

“There’s a lot of good work happening in this town by a lot of good organizations so we are looking at how can we leverage some of that energy and work together more,” Woulfe said.

The idea stems from the assessment’s finding that local organizations are making great use of the town’s arts facilities over the peak summer months, however, there were “a low percentage” of ticketed events at other times of the year. According to AMS, the Riverwalk Center and Breckenridge Theater were in use just 49% of the time they were available in 2018.

In addition to having more events at the Riverwalk Center, Breckenridge Town Council has discussed a desire to see increased activity on the Arts District, a 1-acre campus in Breckenridge that houses an assortment of rehabilitated historic structures turned into studios and creative space.

The campus is punctuated by Breckenridge Theater, a 137-seat venue that’s home to Breckenridge Backstage Theatre, while the surrounding buildings play host to a rotation of live-in artists, along with workshops covering pursuits like painting, ceramics, printmaking, textiles, metalsmithing, glasswork and much more.

Woulfe said he believes community feedback will be increasingly important guiding the BCA’s refocused mission to serve locals, especially when it comes to fine-tuning the Arts District with their interests in mind.


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