In March 2019, Arts Longmont, legally known as Longmont Council for the Arts, Inc. (LCA), announced their intent to dissolve due to financial hardship. It was estimated that the organization would be disbanded by April 30.
Once the news was released, concerned community members were shocked to hear of the culture organization’s sudden closure. So many took it upon themselves to contact Kimberlee McKee, executive director of the Longmont Downtown Development Authority (LDDA) and others in the city.
The sentiment was that the community needed a voice for arts and culture and that the organization’s 30-year history deserved more consideration before it was disbanded.
LDDA became involved because a community effort, spearheaded by McKee had obtained certification making Downtown Longmont a Creative District through Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) in 2010. Although the Creative District is just one aspect of LDDA, its purpose is to help drive traffic to the downtown area, promoting economic vitality.
“The Longmont Council for the Arts, who has been known as Arts Longmont, has been a part of our creative landscape since 1986 and our creative community deserves the support. The organization was a critical piece of making us a Creative District. Its legacy should be preserved,” states McKee.
McKee contacted W. Vito Montone, executive producer of Verve Integrative. Montone also serves as President of the Board of the volunteer organization Creative Ventures of Colorado.
Creative Ventures is dedicated to supporting the creative arts everywhere in Longmont and had previously been involved in discussions with LDDA about Creative Ventures taking over the management of Longmont’s Creative District.
Creative Ventures and LCA share a similar mission; to promote, advocate, and support the arts in the community. McKee saw and seized the opportunity to bring them in to help save LCA.
After many years of leading creative organizations and helping nonprofits operate as a sustainable business, Montone, was happy to assist.
“It is not uncommon, unfortunately, to see ”scope creep” driven by grant opportunities that move an organization away from its core purpose. We are confident that we can support Longmont with a fiscally healthy and vibrant creative community,” said Montone.
After becoming involved it became evident to Montone that major changes needed to be made to the organization as a whole.
On Monday, May 6, a new Longmont Council for the Arts board was sworn in and Montone was elected board President. This board is comprised of creative businesses and experienced business members, all who want the arts in Longmont to prosper. In addition, it has an Advisory Committee comprised of Longmont Downtown Development Authority, Longmont Museum, Longmont Library, and Visit Longmont.
The newly established board merged LCA’s mission with Creative Ventures’ focus on managing the Longmont Creative District. It is believed by this board that in order for creative organizations to prosper, the community needs to know about these creative organizations, feel their value, and learn about ways they can help.
Additionally, it was important that all the existing Arts Longmont programs remain. An effort was made to place these programs with experienced, local arts organizations and The Longmont Museum, Firehouse Arts Center and East Boulder County Artists stepped up to assure that the popular programs continue.
Creative Ventures is currently engaging with Longmont neighborhoods through a partnership with LDDA to run the monthly Mobile Block party as well as the number of existing creative district activities.
Although Longmont is a small town, it goes to show how all aspects of the community are important. An effort to rescue and restore a 30-year resource for the arts community was successful due to contributions from residents, community organizations, and members of the City of Longmont.
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