Breckenridge art show debate surfaces again
December 1, 2003
BRECKENRIDGE – Breckenridge’s next art show is more than six months away, yet some gallery owners are already complaining about the town scheduling them on busy weekends.
Thomas Goettel, owner of Nature Photography Gallery, told the town council this week that people already come to town on the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends, so there is no need to hold additional events as attractions.
Art shows take money visitors might have spent in the in-town galleries and gives it to those participating in the art shows, he said.
This is the argument heard in Frisco when restaurants contested holding the Barbecue Challenge on a busy August weekend.
Goettel has asked the Breckenridge Town Council to change the existing art show agenda to preclude shows on the Fourth of July and Labor Day weekends, reduce the number of shows currently held from four to three and schedule them for off-peak weekends.
He also is asking the town to permit local galleries to participate in the shows without going through a jury process, to discuss alternate locations for the shows and to issue no art show permits in 2004 until the issues have been discussed and the town votes on each.
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Goettel could not be reached for further comment.
“I’m disappointed that it’s gone this far,” said Mark Beling, who produces two major art shows in town, both of which benefit Team Summit and its youth ski and snowboarding programs.
“I’ve gone through this so many times. The shows bring a diversified crowd to the community – that’s what special events are supposed,” Beling said.
Beling produces the Breckenridge Art Fairs on the Fourth of July weekend and the Gathering at the Great Divide Art Festival on Labor Day weekend.
Main Street Station holds a fine arts and crafts show the first weekend in August. The town has no involvement with that event.
Meet the Artists, a benefit for the Summit County Arts Council, is generally held in mid-August.
The issue is hardly new. Galleries and other merchants have long complained about special art shows and other events, particularly those that close down Main Street for a day or two.
And the town has wrestled for years with scheduling conflicts and art show locations. The town has experimented with relocating art shows, and has toyed with the idea of changing the dates.
Relocations have had varied effects, merchants reported, and changing dates is difficult because artists work on a circuit and schedule their attendance at various shows throughout the nation at least a year in advance.
“You change the dates, it’s like starting over,” Beling said. “Everybody would suffer.”
He knows that first-hand. When his fall art show was moved from the Bell Tower Mall to the ice rink parking lot, 50 artists applied to attend. That compares with several hundred in normal years.
Changing the date, Beling said, would result in ending the show.
“To pay for everything (to host a show) I need to charge $375 per booth,” he said. “If you change that to a different week, I couldn’t charge more than $200. I don’t think I could put on a show at that point. Instead of 140 booths, I’d be lucky to get 100.”
A Breckenridge Resort Chamber survey in 2000 showed that almost 75 percent of merchants said the events had a “somewhat positive” effect on their businesses.
“It’s frustrating because I’ve worked so hard to get here,” Beling said. “To throw it all away just because a couple stores aren’t doing well on those weekends would be a shame.”
Jane Stebbins can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 228, or email@example.com.