Cortez Cultural Center

Wonderfully central to the region’s identity

Definitions of ďcultureĒ are almost as diverse as the sources used to find them. This one is illustrative: ď(1) the evolved human capacity to classify and represent experiences with symbols, and to act imaginatively and creatively; and (2) the distinct ways that people living in different human and natural environments of the world classify and represent their experiences, and act creatively.Ē

In other words, culture is whatís going on in a community, and the Cortez Cultural Center represents what happens in this community amazingly well.

Culture develops in places not devoted to it: in schools and in churches, in families and in friendships, in every setting where people gather. And art is created outside the public eye, through the painstaking work of an impressive number of individuals in this community.

But nowhere are art and culture celebrated more fully than at the Cultural Center. Nowhere are more people given opportunities to showcase their works, and nowhere are more people given opportunities to encounter those works as integral aspects of whatís happening here.

Individual access to those opportunities has come at very low cost, because the Cultural Center is committed to that access. Costs add up, though. Staffing the center, keeping the heat on and paying all the other bills that, in aggregate, help the center to be what it is and do what it does are investments that arenít covered by small admission fees here and there. Grants help, but theyíre notoriously fickle and not always relevant to the central mission of highlighting local culture.

For those reasons, the Cortez Cultural Center depends on the community it serves, and right now it needs concrete evidence of support from that community. Without that, Cortez will lose an invaluable resource built on 25 years of vision, hard work and financial contributions.

This isnít a good time to be seeking funds. The economy continues to struggle, the fiscal cliff looms, the presidential election creates uncertainty, and other agencies ó including, notably, the Bridge Emergency Shelter ó also need money.

When funding is tight, the arts often suffer because they are perceived to be related to entertainment. Thatís one interpretation, but another is equally valid: The arts are central to identity, and the Cortez Cultural Center makes a strong contribution to the identity of this community.

It makes other, related, contributions as well. Itís a wonderful attraction for visitors, and it contributes to the local economy by drawing them here. Itís a great place to shop for gifts unique to regional cultures. It hosts programs and exhibits that interpret the natural and human history of the area. Itís a place where people can share what they know, because knowledge and talent are valued there, and that is no small thing.

If you are able, write a check to the Cortez Cultural Center now, and then pledge to continue your support. Letís not let such a wonderful resource wither away.