IGNACIO – In the middle of Friday’s light parade, pictures with Santa and general holiday cheer at the annual Taste of Christmas event, one Ignacio nonprofit will be selling pottery to stay afloat financially.
Dancing Spirit Community Arts Center, which offers art, dance and wellness programs, has a mere hundreds of dollars left in its bank account. The nonprofit aims to raise $2,250 at its 10th annual Fill Your Bowl For Art fundraiser. The money would ensure that it can stay afloat through January, but it will need additional funding to offer programs after that.
“This is the first time we’ve been in this particular situation – this low on funds,” said Kasey Correia, the nonprofit’s executive director. “We are pretty critical right now.”
During Taste of Christmas, Dancing Spirit hopes to sell about 160 handmade or wheel-thrown, hand-glazed bowls for $15.
Attendees can then fill their bowls with all-you-can-eat soups made by community members. The soups will likely range from Pozole, a traditional Mexican stew, to a variety of chicken soups, to the most exotic option: squid eye soup.
“It’s community members coming together like a potluck, and it gets better every year,” Correia said.
Dancing Spirit tries to revitalize and support healing across cultures through art, said Margie Coats, a board member and one of the founding artists. The organization offers dance classes, an open pottery studio, yoga, after-school art classes and adult art classes.
In October, National Endowment for the Arts invited Dancing Spirit to join a rural design summit, which Correia attended in part to further the town’s goal of becoming a state-certified creative district.
The nonprofit also offers scholarships to 90% of its youth participants so they can attend programs. “Which is one of our problems,” Coats said. “If we could charge like a regular art center charges, we wouldn’t have an issue. But we are grant-funded, and we really are a community service.”
Correia said grant funding the nonprofit has received in the past did not come through this year. ELHI Community Center, which houses the nonprofit, also raised rent by $0.18 per square foot in September, which had a “big impact.”
The organization received $24,300 in grant funding this year, wrote Sandhya Tillotson, grant writer for the organization, in an email. In August, it also launched a new fundraiser, Fill Your Plate, which raised $1,600.
Dancing Spirit was not aware of the recent nonprofit funding opportunity with the town of Ignacio, nor did it do a fundraiser for Giving Tuesday, Correia said.
Because of its funding shortfall, the nonprofit plans to close the dance studio, Studio 2B, at the end of December to save on rental costs, one of its largest expenses, Correia said.
With that cut, an additional donation from the Ballantine Foundation and money from the Fill Your Bowl fundraiser, it can continue programming over the short term. In July, money for a three-year grant will become available and new funding applications will open.
The after-school art program will continue in 2020. However, currently paid teachers will no longer teach, and Correia will take over more teaching duties under her salary as a part-time employee.
Correia will also teach the preschool art classes for the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy without pay.
“We had no funding, and we continued (the program) anyway,” she said. “That’s the little preschoolers, and it’s important, these relationships.”
Despite the financial problems, Correia isn’t giving up hope.
“I don’t want the community to give up on us. But it’s not like I’m casually asking for an annual fundraiser,” she said. “We need a vote of confidence.”
firstname.lastname@example.orgAn earlier version of this story misspelled Raymond Dunton’s name in the photo captions.