Niwot LID approves funding for Jazz on 2nd Avenue despite questions
June 16, 2017
The Niwot Local Improvement District Advisory Committee held its monthly meeting on Tuesday, June 6 at the Niwot Fire Station.
After the meeting was called to order, members reviewed the June budget reports prepared by county liaison Pete Salas and LID treasurer Harris Faberman. According to their figures, the LID has committed to just over $66,000 in expenses so far this year, including about $11,000 in pending requests, and has nearly the same amount remaining in the 2017 budget.
The evening’s sole funding request came from the Colorado Jazz Group, non-profit organization that stages Niwot’s annual Jazz on 2nd Avenue music festival. Jazz on 2nd Avenue, now in its seventh year, was named “Best Music Festival Outside of Denver” by Westword Magazine in its 2017 Best of Denver issue. Craig Blockwick, who serves as legal advisor and board member of the organization, requested $10,000 to help fund this year’s event, which will be held on Saturday, Sept. 16. The LID provided $10,000 in funding to last year’s event. Colorado Jazz Group Executive Director Howard Treppeda, who is also a LID member, was unable to attend the meeting.
According to materials provided by Blockwick, Jazz on 2nd Avenue netted just over $14,000 in 2016, about half of which was used to satisfy debts left from the 2015 event. The remaining surplus funded music enrichment in public schools, including a visit to Niwot and Heatherwood Elementary schools from the Vail Jazz Goes to School program. The group also devoted part of the proceeds to the Niwot High School jazz band, which will once again open this year’s festival.
The group is projecting expenses of just under $77,000 for this year’s event, which is about the same as last year. The group anticipates higher income from ticket sales, with paid attendance conservatively projected to be around 500. The event moved to a paid admission model last year, which Blockwick credited with generating a budget surplus for the first time in event’s six-year history. Any surplus from this year’s event will again be used to fund music education efforts in local schools.
In the vigorous, but polite debate that followed Blockwith’s request, committee members expressed support for the event due to the wide-ranging and positive publicity it generates, as evidenced by the Westword award. However, many members, including Carrie Wise, thought the paid admission model made attendees less likely to leave the event and patronize other Niwot businesses. Still others expressed uncertainty about providing taxpayer funds to an event that generates income through ticket sales and wondered whether this event should be considered self-sustaining.
Another area of discussion was a $5,000 payment in the event’s staff budget earmarked for Treppeda as compensation for his fundraising and organizing work on behalf of the festival. Several members feared this could be construed as a conflict of interest, since Treppeda is a LID member. Member Tony Santelli further noted that paying the “event champion,” a traditionally uncompensated role, could set a dangerous precedent that might hamper volunteer turnout for other area events, such as Rock & Rails.
Ultimately, Santelli proposed a “friendly amendment” to earmark LID funds for the printing and advertising portion of the festival budget (~$8,250), with the balance of the $10,000 request put towards security costs. The committee also asked to have Niwot in general featured more prominently in the festival’s ads and promotional materials, and agreed to provide the Vintage Niwot logo for use in posters and other print advertising. The request was approved as amended unanimously.
In New Business, Salas asked the committee to consider dates for the annual Board of County Commissioners and LID joint meeting, which is usually held in July.
In old business, Wise presented an updated request from Niwot Business Association (NBA) Streetscapes committee for $1,180.29 to purchase outdoor furniture for the concrete “bump-out” area on 2nd Avenue. At May’s meeting, their initial request of $2,830 to purchase four tables, 16 chairs and six umbrellas was tabled pending further discussion with the owners of Oak Creek Coffee, which is set to open in the space adjacent to the bump-out in the coming weeks. Wise reported that the coffee shop owners subsequently agreed to purchase the umbrellas. The revised request, for tables, chairs and umbrella bases only, was approved unanimously.
With no public comment, the meeting was adjourned. The Committee will meet next at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, July 11 at the Niwot Fire Station.