Painting a clear picture of Center for the Arts

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By The Staff

With so much misinformation swirling about town, it is time to set the record straight with the facts about the Center for the Arts Evergreen and our collaboration with the Evergreen Park and Recreation District.

• CAE is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization. As such, we are not a profit-making entity. Whatever CAE earns through grants, memberships, donations, class tuitions and fees goes right back into offerings that enrich our community — monthly art exhibits, lectures, concerts, grants for art in schools, programs for adults with developmental disabilities, high school shows, open mic, poetry jams, elementary school exhibitions, Art in the Park for preschoolers, two community-focused art festivals, meeting space for area nonprofits, and staff salaries to make it all possible. Most of these activities are free of charge to the public.

• EPRD has many partnerships. Yes, CAE rents the center from EPRD for $1 per year, but we are not the only nonprofit with what has been termed “favored status.” The Evergreen Naturalists Audubon Society rents the Nature Center at the Lake House for $1 a year too, and like CAE, the proceeds from their commendable activities go back to the organization and to the community. Stingers Soccer, Mountain Area Lacrosse, youth football, West Jeff Baseball and Girls Softball all pay a small fee to rent EPRD fields that the district spent millions to build. CAE paid more than $2,400 last year to use the Buchanan fields and EPRD services for our Summerfest Arts Festival. When the old Miller House at Buchanan Park was remodeled as an art center in 2003, CAE funded the entire $100,000 cost. Ever since we moved in, CAE has paid for all utilities, maintenance and improvements.

• District taxpayers benefit by EPRD’s collaboration with CAE. Before CAE assumed programming in 2003, EPRD’s limited arts and crafts program barely broke even. Space was so tight that only a few classes were offered, and pottery had to be held off site. This year, CAE plans about 100 classes that will offer a multitude of affordable opportunities for mountain area residents of all ages to explore the arts and express their creativity. Last year, CAE secured funding to bring our local arts organizations together. The resulting collaborative Evergreen Arts and Cultural Alliance is planning the first ever “Arts Alive Evergreen” this summer — a 10-day celebration of visual and performing arts that will attract visitors to enjoy the activities, eat at our restaurants, shop in our stores, and advance Evergreen as an affordable arts destination.

The 1996-2001 EPRD master plan states: “The district will assist Evergreen arts organizations in developing space for activities and support for projects and events.” The classes, exhibits and programs sponsored by CAE fill a distinct public need — one that EPRD recognizes as part of its mission but is unable to fill on its own. Center for the Arts Evergreen does not profit from these offerings, but the community certainly does.

This week’s Community Voices column is from the board of directors for the Center for the Arts Evergreen. Pat Johnson is president of the board.