Advocacy for Culture in Public Spaces

"Please Read To Me" installation, Shana Cordon. Photo by Amanda Tipton.

If you're interested in raising your voice in support of using outdoor public spaces in Denver to help local performing arts survive the current crises, reach out to council members here with the following suggestions:

1. Separate permitting for small cultural events. Parks & Rec (and other city offices) should offer a simple, rapid turn-around permitting process for live culture events serving small numbers of guests (50 or less), offered by organizations most at risk because of the crisis (below $1M annual operating budget), provided that the organization design a strong health and safety plan.

2. No seat tax for small cultural non-profits. Denver city offices charge a seat tax of 10-15% for the use of spaces such as city parks and city-managed venues – even if that usage is low- to no-impact. These taxes pay down bonds used to build, renovate, and maintain the Convention Center and Denver Performing Arts Complex. Not only is the tax regressive (the same percentage for orgs with $100K and $50M operating budgets), but they only benefit the large institutions that use these venues.

3. Centralized, facilitated permitting process. The Office of Special Events is designed to support organizations like ours to gather permissions and offer our unconventional events within legal regulations. In practice, though, they are only able to offer advice and introduce event producers to the many different offices involved in permitting an event. OSE should be empowered to do this job effectively, with the ability to grant permits, offer waivers when reasonable, and be the sole contact point for projects under a certain project or organizational budget ($500K or $1M).

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