Sam Gappmayer was hired as CEO of the Fine Arts Center in 2008 and inherited the charge to maintain the organization’s esteemed reputation, something the FAC’s 100,000 annual visitors come to appreciate when they walk through its doors to view an exhibit, take in a performance or participate in one of its many other community activities.
Gappmayer took some time this week to talk with the Business Journal about his job and new programs at the FAC.
What’s new at the Fine Arts Center?
The end of summer is a busy time for the Fine Arts Center as we put finishing touches on the months and months of planning that goes into creating the season of new programming that opens each fall every year.
New opportunities are in the works for our three program areas. Our education department, for example, is strengthening ties with the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Carson in ways that will increase our capacity to serve wounded warriors through our partnership with Aspen Pointe. The museum has recently seen a significant increase in additions to the permanent collection last year with new gifts and purchases, most notably through the gift of 50 works from the Herb and Dorothy Vogel Collection; the bulk of the collection went to the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. And in the Performing Arts Department we continue to grow audiences with new offerings in our upstairs music room and additional performances on our main stage.
Are FAC membership, visitor and staffing numbers growing?
With one month left in our fiscal year, it looks like we’ll finish with participation rates at or near record levels. I estimate that between 110,000 to 120,000 people will have taken part in Fine Arts Center programs. Membership is at 3,400 — a solid number as we compare ourselves to similar institutions. I anticipate that that number will increase this fall as we launch new initiatives to invite more people to become members of the Fine Arts Center. Our income during the recession has remained flat with the exception of events such as unanticipated bequests and special fundraising projects such as the $630,000 we raised to do a major renovation of our roof. While there have been some shifts, staffing levels have remained essentially the same.
What is the FAC’s annual budget, and how is it funded and allocated within the organization?
Our annual income each year has hovered around $3.4 million. Sources of that income include our endowment, our membership, generous donors, foundations, corporations, earned income (ticket sales, class fees, facility rentals, etc.). Allocation is based on our mission statement, long-range plans and short-term tactical goals.
What are some of the things that have happened during your tenure that you are most proud of?
I am proud that we serve more than 100,000 people each year. I tend, though, to be proudest of the things we’ve done that make the arts accessible to people who are not typical participants with cultural institutions. These include the soldiers mentioned, the outreach work we do with at-risk youth, the thousands of children that come for school tours, our program with Alzheimer’s sufferers, an art therapy program for children who have lost a loved one and many, many more. The letters we get from people in these programs are profound and feed my soul.
How do you view FAC’s role in the arts community and the community at large?
The Fine Arts Center and our predecessor, the Broadmoor Art Academy, has been a catalyst for the arts in Colorado Springs for 94 years — nearly a century! We value the rich community of arts organizations that have grown up with us in Colorado Springs and enjoy many opportunities for collaboration as we all work to make this an even better place to live. Having said that, the Fine Arts Center is a unique resource in the region with our collection of 24,000 objects, expansive galleries and the scope of our theater program, not to mention the combination of all three of these elements under one roof.
What do you appreciate most about Colorado Springs, and what would you most like to change about the city?
The clear answer to what I appreciate most is the people here. From the founders of the Broadmoor Art Academy to our current board, staff and supporters, the Fine Arts Center has been favored with amazing people who have shepherded this organization through thick and thin. Beyond the FAC, there are wonderful people doing incredible work to make our city an even better place to live. One of my hopes for Colorado Springs is that there would be a deeper vision for the role that the arts can play in revitalization efforts. Cities like Charlotte, Boston, Las Vegas and Providence have successfully used the arts as a core of their strategies to strengthen both downtowns and surrounding neighborhoods.