Look out world! Carlsbad’s arts and culture community is mobilizing to a greater level through its Creative Carlsbad Arts Council.
“We’re in the process of bringing all of our arts and cultural entities in the community together,” explained Board Secretary/Treasurer Julia Heaton. “We’re going to expand opportunities in every direction for the community.”
Creative Carlsbad’s history ties in with several other organizations, including Carlsbad MainStreet and the Fine Arts Acquisition-Vetting Committee (FAAV). The FAAV, working on completion of Carlsbad Halagueno Arts Park, was examining the possibility of Carlsbad having a state designation as an Arts and Cultural District.
What’s an Arts & Cultural District? Former New Mexico State Representative John Heaton created legislation in 2007 establishing the districts in New Mexico. “[The designation] opens up a lot of doors and creates different perks for the city,” praised Patsy Jackson-Christopher, the City of Carlsbad’s Director of Arts and Culture. “Once a community receives the designation, the state will then help promote the district and will send in professionals to help assess growth potential.”
The effort leads to numerous benefits, in terms of tourism and economic development. Former MainStreet directors Amy Barnhart and Amanda Melvin, Jackson-Christopher and Heaton all helped with initiating the process and assembling the application. The City Council passed a resolution backing their effort. Heaton and Melvin gave a presentation to the state board in Santa Fe.
The application process went well, but the New Mexico Arts Commission said Carlsbad would need an official arts council before its application could be considered for an Arts and Cultural District.
So in 2014, Jackson-Christopher invited different local cultural groups to attend a meeting in which the concept of an arts council was introduced. Several more local men and women , among them Ken Britt, Wren Prather-Stroud (who also serves on the state’s Arts Commission), Larry Mitchell and current MainStreet Director Karla Hamel, soon became involved with the effort. Calling itself “Creative Carlsbad Arts Council,” the organization filed its nonprofit articles of incorporation in 2015. The organization is now fully developed with a board of directors, bylaws and a website with an events calendar at creativecarlsbad.org.
Now that Carlsbad has its own arts council, it has met the requirements to obtain designation as an Arts and Cultural District. There is only one major hurdle remaining: the state has not funded the program in the past two years. Jackson-Christopher affirmed that a self-designation process is also possible, and the group will explore this for the interim until state funding is secured.
The designation as an Arts and Cultural District was only one of the organization’s goals, however. A membership drive in November, which Creative Carlsbad did not begin until it had successfully incorporated as a nonprofit and developed itself, was highly successful. Also, the organization’s new brochure establishes benefits to its membership, including advertising on the website and inclusion in the member directory. The idea is to serve as a consortium for different arts and cultural groups and sponsors around town.
“We want to encompass everyone,” Heaton maintained. “We will exchange data about what’s going on in the community and help them market events and themselves.”
“One more clarification is that this is not a city board,” she contended. “This is a citizen’s group.”
With Creative Carlsbad, the networking itself is a big part of the formula.
So, say the Carlsbad Community Theatre has a performance on March 10, and the Carlsbad Community Chorale has a performance on March 20. Creative Carlsbad could help both groups get the word out about their upcoming events and facilitate support between the two groups. The arts council can also play matchmaker; a local musician looking for a gig in the summer may be introduced to the organizers of an antique car show who are looking for a musician.
Carlsbad’s new microbrewery, Milton’s Brewing, recently joined Creative Carlsbad and held an event in January for members. Milton’s can use the opportunity to discuss some of the concerts it has hosted and take advantage of the other cultural groups in the area.
Basic membership is $30 a year, according to board member Julie Chester. Membership will eventually provide priority seating and discounted admission to events sponsored by other members. Chester was especially proud of the web page’s interactive calendar. “It’s a chance for all of these groups to thrive.”
On the other end, Platinum sponsorship donations from corporations will include more expansive packages.
In addition to working with its partners, Creative Carlsbad will also develop its own signature event, Heaton added.
As more members join, Creative Carlsbad’s mission to develop a community-wide network of arts and cultural organizations will continue to grow stronger. For more information about Creative Carlsbad, please visit creativecarlsbad.org.