Cultural Center hires new director

Sam Green/Cortez Journal

Anne Beach is the new executive director of the Cortez Cultural Center.

By Luke Groskopf Journal staff writer

Six months ago, the Cortez Cultural Center was in fiscal panic mode. Almost $20,000 in the red, the nonprofit was forced to release its executive director, Shawn Collins, to remain solvent.

Now, after a rash of donations, they’ve hired another one.

“Last fall we were down and worried. Then we began receiving donations right and left — some small, some large, some very large. Mostly local people, but some from Florida too,” said Shelby Smith, president of the seven-member board of directors. The Center ended the year with nearly $20,000 in the bank.

After interviewing 12 candidates — Collins did not reapply — the board chose Anne Beach of Mancos. She began work April 15.

Beach says she had little involvement with the Cultural Center but is eager to catch up. She has experience writing grant proposals, the nonprofit’s single biggest revenue stream. Beach thinks that as an organization that hosts events covering a wide breadth of topics — history, art, music, science — the Cultural Center is uniquely positioned to qualify for more grants than more specialized organizations can.

“I have tons to learn. I have lots of community members to meet. I hope to collaborate with other nonprofit organizations on events,” said Beach, who is the only paid staff member. The rest are part-time volunteers.

Area resident Don Lightenburger is underwriting her salary for one year. Beach hopes her tenure will continue, but balance sheets will dictate the future. Beach met with the Cultural Center’s accountant yesterday to crunch numbers.

She has the confidence of Smith and other board members.

“Anne is energetic and ambitious, with a go-getter personality,” he said. “I’d like us to figure out which events are not worth spending time and money on, and which ones are, then double down on the ones that are. We may have to quit some things that haven’t produced (much revenue).”

The Sweetheart Ball is a reliable moneymaker, bringing in $9,000 in February. Upcoming events include the Pueblo-to-Pueblo race on Saturday and the birding festival next month.

Native American dances will resume May 24 and run through Labor Day.

One new development on the horizon is the Cultural Center’s partnership with Montezuma-Cortez School District Re-1 and Colorado Parks and Wildlife. As part of its science curriculum, Beach said, the district will take students to Denny Lake and Hawkins Preserve, which the Cultural Center owns.

Smith would like to expand the board. He believes its seven members, some with full-time jobs, are stretched thin and could benefit from fresh ideas. He mentioned 12 members as an ideal number.

“We need a good mix of old timers and new transplants. Somebody from Des Moines might have a great idea of how to run something (more efficiently),” Smith said.

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