Carbondale's community connector

No more ‘cah-cah’ for local arts organization

Locations: News Published

By John Colson

Sopris Sun Staff Writer

Some time around the last full weekend of July, in conjunction with the 2016 Carbondale Mountain Fair, close observers of signs and that sort of thing may notice something different about how the Carbondale Council on the Arts and Humanities (CCAH) identifies itself in marketing and other formats.

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Starting at about that time, according to Amy Kimberly, executive director of what is now vocally referred to as “cah-cah” in local shorthand parlance, will be changing its name to Carbondale Arts (CA, or “cah”).


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“It’s because we wanted to be ‘cah,’ we didn’t want to be ‘cah-cah’ anymore,” Kimberly joked during an interview on Monday, making a sly reference to the somewhat earthy vocalization of the organization’s original acronym.

Actually, she said, “It’s really just to simplify,” noting that the organization’s Website has been “forever,” or at least since the organization (founded in 1974) put up its first Website as an aid to its marketing efforts.

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The name change comes at a time when the organization is closing in on formal recognition as one of the half-dozen or so Creative Districts around Western Colorado, under Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s ongoing Colorado Creative Industries initiative.

Kimberly and her army of volunteers have been working on the Carbondale Creative District (CCD) effort for about four years, starting after CCAH won a Governor Arts Award in 2012 under a program run by the Creative Industries agency.

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Using a combination of local and state grants, as well as some money from CCAH’s own $450,000 annual budget, the group has been granted the right to use the “creative district” nomenclature, even though formal certification of the CCD has yet to come through.

As reported in the April 22 Sopris Sun, the CCD has already gotten to work on its first big community project, creation of an Artwalk along the Rio Grande bicycling and pedestrian trail that bisects Carbondale, featuring sculpture, a Latino-themed garden and other cultural amenities as part of an effort to beautify the trail and use it as a cultural touchstone for the town.

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Thanks to the relocation of the Carbondale Branch Library to its new building at the corner of Third Street and Sopris Avenue, Carbondale Arts has a new home at The Launch Pad (the former Gordon Cooper Library space, named after the astronaut whose mother lived here), at the corner of Fourth Street and Garfield Avenue. The building is shared between CCAH/CA and The Dance Initiative, a local dance education and performance group.

And next week the CCAH/CA will play host to a Creative Industries Summit, scheduled for May 4-6 at different sites around town.

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New logo coming

Kimberly said the official declaration of the new name, along with a new logo that is still being designed, is planned for this summer’s Mountain Fair in Sopris Park at the center of town.

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Not much else will be different, Kimberly said, in terms of the programs that CCAH has been running for decades, ranging from the annual Mountain Fair (which falls on the last full weekend of July) to such programs as the Creative Classroom after-school program, classes in drawing, yoga and a host of other pastimes, the Green Is The New Black spring fashion show and other cultural events.

The broader arts programming, she said, will continue under the auspices of the member-elected board of directors that has been at the heart of the CCAH organization for decades.

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Separate board

A separate governing board, probably appointed by the established CCAH board, will oversee the Creative District’s operations and programming, and the district will have its own Website (with a link to the CCAH/CA site).

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Kimberly said that the work on the Creative District has brought a slight increase in the arts council budget in recent years, taking it from its normal $450,000 level to something closer to $500,000 this year.

But in general, she said, the inclusion of the Creative District organization under the CCAH/CA banner will not mean a big boost in the budgets of the two groups, mainly because “most of the District’s budget will be project-based.”

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By that Kimberly meant that much of the CD’s budget will consist of “hard costs” for building or placing signs, art installations and other actual stuff.

Meanwhile, she said, much of the “soft-cost” expenses such as administration will be taken care of by her and the CCAH/CA staff.

“We feel as though we’ve already been doing the work for the last four years,” Kimberly quipped. “The day-to-day running of the district we can handle in our office.”

Already, she said, some of the salaries paid to her and her co-workers have been divvied-up between work done for the CD and work done for CCAH/CA.

Kimberly said that in the next few months she, the other CCAH/CA employees and the board will be working on CD issues, and added that if any local citizens feel the need to talk about the changes they should step up and do so.

“This is the time period when, if people want to make comments, they should,” she declared.

The CCAH/CA office can be reached at 963-1680, or through its Website,

Published in The Sopris Sun on April 28, 2016.