Tuesday, October 30, 2018

From Stock Show to Van Gogh, Denver Has a Winning Strategy

The Denver metropolitan area continues to be a leading region in the country that’s willing to invest in its future. John Wenzel, a Denver Post survivor, chronicles the success of the region’s cultural scene most recently with a front page story titled, “Artful Outlook: Denver’s reputation is on the rise as a must-see for cultural events.” As he describes, Denver’s major cultural venues have become favorite stops for the best of Broadway and the nation’s top art, historic and scientific exhibits.

From the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ hit “Hamilton,” to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science’s Dead Sea Scrolls, to the Denver Art Museum’s recent Van Gogh exhibit and hugely popular “Star Wars” costumes exhibit (I went twice), to the Denver Botanic Gardens’ crowd-attracting Chihuly sculptures, the area’s high quality cultural scene has added “Culture Town” to its already well-known reputation as a “Cow” and “Sports” town.

Wenzel points out that the Denver region’s civic leaders and voters generously support its cultural life. He cites the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) as a national model in regional cooperation, which has undergirded the cultural scene for 30 years with public funding for operations and public access. But, regional voters have also built sports stadiums and, recently, Denver voters approved fees and taxes for a massive rebuild of the Stock Show complex.

One factor of the region’s success is its display of a temperament in short supply in the country today. A broad group of civic leaders has been willing to look beyond parochialism, make compromises in crafting proposals and then unify behind a common strategy. By staying focused on the public benefits, voters have joined them and approved.

Gov. Roy Romer signed the legislation creating the District on July 1, 1987,
with supporters gathered around his desk. In Nov. 1988, 75 percent of Denver
metro voters in six counties authorized the collection of the sales tax, producing
about $14 million for distribution to regional cultural organizations starting in
1989. Today, more than $60 million will be distributed. | Photo: RMPBS

Read The Buzz: SCFD’s 30-Year Anniversary

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