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Friends revive Tin Shop

KIMBERLY NICOLETTI
summit daily news

Breckenridge’s Tin Shop has plenty of heart. In fact, about 50 people have come forward in the last few months to ensure the pulse of the Tin Shop continues to beat – regularly and strongly.

A grassroots group called “Friends of the Arts District” stepped up to make the Tin Shop program, which hosts guest artists from throughout the nation, sustainable. The group began to meet in late September, when people discovered the Tin Shop’s artist residencies were in danger of being reduced or cut.

Going into the 2010 budget cycle, the town’s proposed cuts simply involved reducing the number of artists annually at the Tin Shop and charging a small fee for previously free public workshops guest artists provided. But the proposal still didn’t create a sustainable Tin Shop program, so when the last guest artist, Rebecca Barfoot, left on Nov. 3, the town’s presented budget called to end the program until revenue could be generated to sustain it, said Arts District coordinator Jennifer Cram. Artists don’t pay to stay at the Tin Shop, “thus, generating revenues to market, provide workshop materials, pay utilities, etc., was challenging,” Cram said.

“I was floored when I heard the doors were going to be closed,” said Amy Evans, one of the Friends. “I just felt like it’s something that needed to develop; it just hadn’t had the exposure, but visitors love it … The arts are the soul of the community, and without them we’d just be like any other little place.”

By mid-November, the Friends, comprised of a core group of 20 community members, had raised more than $5,000 – just by word-of-mouth requests to donate anywhere from $25 to $500 a year. The Saddle Rock Society helped enormously, by offering $2,500 and agreeing to pay the Tin Shop’s utility bills for six months, through June.

The $5,000 covers a little more than 65 percent of the Tin Shop’s operational costs, said Janis Bunchman, a retired educator who has lived in Summit County for 37 years and took the lead for Friends.

The Friends plan on raising the remainder of the money through monthly fundraisers, such as a ceramic art project event, a fashion show and chamber concerts. Members will help Cram select artists and provide input on Arts District classes, Bunchman said.

“The Friends also plan to meet socially to create a community for local artists to share ideas and creative energy,” Cram said.

The Friends are modeling their approach to enriching the arts community after Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass. Anderson Ranch started small, like the Tin Shop, as a grassroots collective and has grown into a program with its own dorms and restaurant and classes that accommodate 300-400 people each, Bunchman said.

“This could be a model of collaboration between the government towns and community involvement,” she said. “The town made (the Tin Shop) possible. The Friends will make it sustainable.”


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