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Arts and Entertainment

What it means to be well endowed ... as a nonprofit

Brenda Macon

Word on the street is that the Kardashian ladies have given up their top curves in favor of a more streamlined silhouette. I couldn’t care less, except that it brings up a titillating and inviting concept. Endowment. It’s a magic word for nonprofits. Much like a mother’s bosom, it’s a comforting pillow of security from which to dream and grow. Here, what we mean is money.

An endowment fund is for the purpose of programs that are consistent with the wishes of whomever donated the money. Endowment funds can be good if the nonprofit is flowing through a regular year, and they can also be surprisingly problematic. Imagine you’ve just been hit with a pandemic and need money to pay the utility bills and staffing but your endowment funds are restricted to funding programs you can’t offer because people are quarantined at home.

Sometimes I’m asked if the DAC has an endowment fund. We do, but it’s restricted and small enough that it’s better just to leave it alone to grow. It’s easy to go into the weeds on how nonprofits work, but instead, here’s a joke from the shortest joke book ever: “NonProfit Jokes for Executive Directors.” A nonprofit staff member went on a blind date. At the end of the dinner, she said, “OK, here’s how this works: I can pay for this dinner. But I need you to pay first. Then I will reimburse you. However, I can’t pay for the drinks or appetizers or the sales tax or the tips. And the check will take four to 16 months to arrive.” That pretty much sums it up. It’s complicated!

So where do funds for nonprofits really come from? The DAC is lucky to have earned revenue from ticket sales and class fees, and it’s used to pay daily expenses that aren’t sexy enough to ask a donor to fund. Unrestricted income that comes from memberships, grants and donations is where the visioning work happens, and what most nonprofits rely on.

It would be wonderful if we could give away $3,500 a month in scholarships to need-based students instead of paying that toward the mortgage; if we had a rooftop theater to host live music; if we offered more travel art experiences to our students; if we had all the tools to build inspiring theater stage sets.

We have the vision, but only through the commitment of the community and generous donors will these things materialize. Remember that an investment in the arts has a multiplier effect that nourishes the whole community.

If you’re not one already, become a member. You can help the DAC pay off its mortgage so the funds are reallocated to students. If you are in the position to donate or set up an end of life giving plan, please call right away. We will assist you in making an investment in a well-endowed future for Durango of which you will be proud.

In the theater
  • A Night of Improv with Cindy, Mary & Friends, 7 p.m. Sept. 8. Tickets: $10/$15.
  • “The Odd Couple: The Female Version,” 7:30 p.m. Sept. 15-16, 22-23 and 29-30; 2 p.m. Sept. 17, 24 and Oct. 1. Tickets $20/$10.
  • Adult Improv Showcase Class: Four weekly sessions begin Sept. 27, 6:30-8:30 p.m.; show date Oct. 20. $100/$60 for student, teacher and service discount.
Art classes and gallery events
  • 29th Annual Durango Autumn Arts Festival, Sep. 16 and 17, along East Second Ave.
  • “That’s So Durango!” art exhibit. Open through Sep. 19th
  • Call to Artists for submissions: The Night Gallery, A Terrifyingly Creative Community Exhibit, see website to submit work.
  • Artisan’s Market, noon-6 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday.
  • Adult and youth art and theater classes fall online registrations now open.
Special Arts Week Adult Classes
  • Slump Glass Bottle Cheese Trays, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. Sept. 19.
  • Basic Jewelry Making Techniques, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. Sept. 20.
  • Intro to Adobe Lightroom, 10:30 a.m. Sept. 21.
  • Pots & Pints is back, Mad Hatter teacups, 4:30 p.m. Sept. 22. $35.
  • Intro to Wildlife Photography, 10:30 a.m. Sept. 23.
  • Figure Drawing of Dynamic Dogs, 1 and 3 p.m. Sept. 23.

Buy tickets, donate, become a member and register for classes at DurangoArts.org.

Brenda Macon has been executive director of Durango Arts Center since 2018.