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County's share of cultural funding drops 16 percent

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By AJ Vicens

Jeffco's share of Scientific and Cultural Facilities District funds dropped 16 percent from 2008 to 2009, but the district still awarded more than $820,000 to various organizations and events.

The SCFD is funded by a 0.1 percent sales and use tax paid by residents of Jefferson, Adams, Arapahoe, Boulder, Broomfield, Denver and Douglas counties. Each year the SCFD hands out roughly $40 million to large, medium and small cultural and scientific organizations and events throughout the seven-county area. Each county has its own cultural council that evaluates requests and determines awards. The district was created by a vote of residents in 1988 and was re-approved in 1994. It will expire again in 2018.

In 2009, 83 groups and events applied for SCFD funding through Jeffco, according to Robert Johnson, the county cultural council chair in 2009, one less than applied in 2008.

The applicants asked for roughly $1.5 million in funding, but the money just wasn't there.

"We're down 16 percent from last year," Johnson told the county commissioners July 21. "And we'll probably be down even more next year."

About half of the groups that applied are Jeffco-based organizations, with the other half being groups that aren't necessarily based in the county but want to hold projects or events in Jeffco with SCFD funds. Commissioner Kevin McCasky asked Johnson if county-based organizations were favored in the award process.

"That's one of the areas we do tend to favor," Johnson said.

"Well, when we're down 16 percent in revenue, it just makes sense," McCasky said.

The biggest winner was the Morrison Natural History Museum, which was awarded $31,801 for a project called Exploring Fossils Through Art. The museum requested $52,500 for the project. Other big winners include Ballet Nouveau Colorado, which asked for $40,000 for the "2009-10 Jefferson County Season and Outreach." The project was given $27,767.

The lowest award was $1,000, which was given to the Metropolitan Jazz Orchestra Inc. for a project with the Evergreen Chorale.

Foothills Park & Recreation District was awarded $10,915 for its 2010 entertainment series.

Another South Jeffco winner was the Ken-Caryl Ranch Metropolitan District, which was given $4,372 for its entertainment and concert series.

One organization had the dubious honor of being awarded nothing. The Colorado Lawyers for the Arts asked for $2,000 for "educational programs" but was not given any money.

Johnson said the group's application was incomplete.

"You would expect lawyers to be able to fill out their paperwork," said Commissioner Kathy Hartman.

Johnson explained that the group had some significant staff turnover just prior to turning in its application.

Contact AJ Vicens at aj@evergreenco.com, and check www.columbinecourier.com for updates and breaking news.