Monday, October 16, 2017

Denver Voters Have Historically Valued Their Cultural Institutions

The major metro area cultural institutions are asking Denver voters for $117 million in bond financing as part of the nearly one billion dollar bond package ($937 million) on the Denver election ballot November 7, 2017. Denver voters have historically been willing to maintain their cultural institutions’ operations with sales tax from the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) and the facilities, buildings and exhibit space through City and County of Denver property tax bond initiatives. The last major bond package, which included cultural facilities, was approved by voters in 2007. It totaled $550 million for all city projects.

Denver is one of the core metro cities in this country that has flourished since the 2008 Great Recession, at least partially because the city’s business, civic and community leadership and voters have been willing to invest in its infrastructure and quality of life. The Millennials and empty nesters that have moved here in the last decade cite the vibrant cultural life as one of the city’s great attractions.

The bond improvements, which tax dollars are supporting, are often matched by prodigious private fundraising efforts. The Denver Art Museum’s expansion and reconditioning of its historic Ponti building will triple the impact of the public funds with more than $100 million of private gifts.

Because the institutions are regional and, in fact, top state cultural attractions, these improvements go to the benefit of the entire region and state. It’s one way Denver thanks the region’s voters for their support of the SCFD. In November 2016, Denver voters supported the Cultural District by 73 percent and voters in the seven-county region gave the District a 63 percent affirmation.

Prediction: Denver voters will, in a fashion similar to the 2005 bonds, strongly support Denver cultural facilities.

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