Partnerships bring arts successful year

Herald file photo
Jasper Arts Director Kyle Rupert credits adding online ticketing options, exploring community partnerships and a series of workshops for those with special needs with helping the arts to flourish in 2018. Ali Bromm of Huntingburg, 16, and her mother, Elaine, worked together to draw a dolphin, Ali's favorite ocean animal, during one of the special needs art workshop at the Jasper Arts Center recently. "She loves to do art. She's always drawing at home," Elaine said.


JASPER — It has been a good year for the arts in Jasper.

Though the year-end numbers are not yet finalized and will change by the end of the month, preliminary figures show the Jasper Arts Department’s revenue is up and overall expenses are down in 2018.

“If we look at things just from a dollars and cents perspective — which is not the whole story — but just from that perspective, from a revenue viewpoint, we’re ahead of where we were last year at this time,” said Jasper Arts Director Kyle Rupert. “So, we’ll likely finish ahead of where we finished the year last year.”

Through Nov. 6, the department’s income was up 20 percent and expenditures were down 1.5 percent, compared to Nov. 6, 2017.

Rupert said the arts department aims to build on the success as the calendar flips to 2019. He said that the flourishing of the department mirrors the local mentality and adds to the attractiveness of the city.

“I think that it’s a reflection of what they are interested in seeing in the community, and what they’re interested in doing in the community and having for the community,” Rupert said. “So, I think that from a community perspective, having a thriving arts department and an arts culture makes Jasper a more lively place, it makes it a destination location.”

Ticket sales make up the largest chunk of the department’s revenue, and more tickets to the department’s events were purchased in 2018 than last year. Other income streams include grants, workshop fees, school performances, commission from artwork sales in the Krempp Gallery, ticket-handling fees, alcohol sales at events, donations and facility rentals.

Rupert said the department hit its stride in the second half of the year by offering online ticketing options and online registration for the city’s annual Chalk Walk event; starting a series of workshops for those with special needs; and exploring partnerships with community organizations — like the local Magic Yarn Project group, for example.

“When I think about highlights for the year, I think that those partnerships that we’ve formed are probably what I would look to the most,” he said. “And then also the updating we’ve done from a technology standpoint to make things easier for our community members.”

Moving forward, the arts department will continue to grow those partnerships and expand the role its special-needs programming plays in the area. Rupert said the local agency will increasingly examine how it can make the arts more accessible both at the arts center and out in the community, and continue bringing “the absolute best in the performing arts here to Jasper with the space that we have.”

“We have a pretty good track record of that,” he said. “And I don’t see that changing.”

It’s not there yet, but Rupert believes Jasper can become a regional hub for the arts for surrounding communities with the city’s future Thyen-Clark Cultural Center and the expansion of performing and visual arts programming.

“I think we could be the de facto hub, but I wouldn’t go so far as to say we’re completely there yet,” he said.

He concluded: “But we could be and we should be because we have the resources that we have to do that. It’s probably an easier step for us to take than most because of the foundation that’s been laid the past 40-plus years.”

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