Cap­i­tal gains

THE NEW ARTS AGENDA

Pasatiempo - - PASA REVIEWS -

LET’S throw a fig­ure out there, and that fig­ure is $71 mil­lion. That’s the amount a num­ber of cul­tural in­sti­tu­tions around the city are seek­ing for new con­struc­tion, as well as for ren­o­va­tions and up­grades to ex­ist­ing fa­cil­i­ties. The var­i­ous projects dis­cussed be­low are be­ing paid for by the pub­lic through cap­i­tal cam­paigns. Some of the fundrais­ing goals are well un­der­way, par­tic­u­larly for projects at Santa Fe Opera and SITE Santa Fe. How­ever, all of this money chang­ing hands raises the ques­tion: How did we get to this point so soon af­ter the na­tion’s deep re­ces­sion? In Santa Fe dur­ing those years, gal­leries and shops closed, con­struc­tion all but halted, and the num­ber of home­less on the city’s streets seemed to in­crease. The time may be ripe for a SITE ex­pan­sion and a brand new con­tem­po­rary art mu­seum (or two), but have we al­ready reached a point where we’ve re­cov­ered enough to make such bold re­quests for fund­ing?

Santa Fe, while al­ways an art-friendly town, seems to be de­vel­op­ing an art-based in­fra­struc­ture — maybe even an in­dus­try — de­spite the loss of some state sup­port for the arts that fol­lowed the elec­tion of Gov. Su­sana Martinez. Martinez halted the tax in­cen­tives that brought the film in­dus­try to New Mex­ico when the state was de­vel­op­ing the in­fra­struc­ture to sus­tain it and al­low for post-pro­duc­tion as well as pro­duc­tion work. Had the wind not been knocked out of the film­mak­ers’ mi­gra­tion, per­haps in time, Ta­male­wood would have given Hol­ly­wood a run for its money. Now the film in­dus­try has to get back on its feet, but there are signs that a reemer­gence is un­der­way. Dur­ing the re­ces­sion, Santa Fe saw a rise in artists work­ing to­gether and sup­port­ing one an­other and now that the re­ces­sion is over, the artist col­lab­o­ra­tives that formed dur­ing those years re­main strong.

The cul­tural land­scape is chang­ing. Amid this trans­for­ma­tion from art des­ti­na­tion to art mecca with a cap­i­tal “M,” art col­lab­o­ra­tives that started as grass-roots or­ga­niz­ers of cre­ative “hap­pen­ings” and imag­i­na­tive pop-up ex­hibits are now cre­at­ing new mu­se­ums such as the Meow Wolf Art Com­plex, slated to open in 2016. Art dis­tricts are emerg­ing all over town. While it still some­times feels like a no-man’s land and some of its store­fronts still sit empty, the Railyard Dis­trict con­tin­ues to grow, and much of that growth sup­ports and em­ploys lo­cal tal­ent. Graphic de­sign firms, art re­source cen­ters, and mar­ket­ing firms are open­ing their doors, and lo­cal art and cul­ture venues are among their ma­jor clients. There even seem to be a few more mil­len­ni­als stick­ing around th­ese days, but maybe we’re just get­ting older.

So we do have an in­dus­try, and its prod­uct is art. The cap­i­tal cam­paign projects be­ing planned or al­ready in mo­tion might test our will­ing­ness to in­vest in an art-based in­fra­struc­ture, but ul­ti­mately, we should be sure that this re­nais­sance is sus­tain­able, and that we’re not get­ting ahead of our­selves or stretch­ing our­selves too thin. — Michael Abatemarco

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