In a joint statement released this morning, Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler and Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center President and CEO David Dahlin confirmed that formal agreement has been reached on the terms and conditions of a merger between the two organizations.

The agreement, to be gradually implemented during the next four years, will transform the Fine Arts Center from an independent nonprofit arts institution into a part of Colorado College.

According to the press release: “The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will retain its current name until July 1, 2017, when it will become known as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. By July 1, 2020, the Fine Arts Center entity will be fully transferred to the college along with existing donor restrictions on the assets, including the building and the art collection. The college will dedicate more than $20 million of its endowment for the ongoing support of the Fine Arts Center. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation will continue as a separate supporting foundation managing the existing FAC $13 million endowment for the mission of the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.”

The detailed agreement, summarized below in documents provided by the two organizations, was approved by the unanimous vote of both boards.

Dahlin said the agreement cannot be overturned by a vote of the Fine Arts Center membership.

And Tiefenthaler is optimistic about the future.

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“Arts facilities attached to colleges and universities tend to fall into two categories,” she said in a Friday interview. “They can be outward looking, focused on their community mission, or inward-looking, concentrating on their relationship with the college. We hope that we can find a balance and do well in both roles.”

Here’s the press release, followed by FAQs.


Four-year transition period allows for careful planning, integration

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – Aug. 25, 2016 – Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler and Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center President and CEO David Dahlin today announced an historic alliance between the two institutions that signals the re-envisioning and redefining of both organizations’ contributions to the arts in the region. The partnership supports the missions of both organizations while expanding innovative learning opportunities, arts programming and cultural resources for the greater Colorado Springs community. Today’s announcement marks the signing of legal documents by both organizations.

“The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is a cultural gem, and I’m excited about the immense possibilities this alliance presents for all involved,” Tiefenthaler said. “I look forward to rolling up our sleeves and working to create the most innovative, dynamic and vibrant organization possible. I plan to actively seek community input as together we envision the amazing future potential of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.”

“I’m thrilled to help create a strong and vibrant future for the Fine Arts Center that will enable it to thrive and build upon its legacy for another 100 years,” Dahlin said. “This is truly a win-win-win agreement benefiting the FAC, CC and the entire community.”

Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers praised the affiliation. “This partnership, which brings together two of our most prominent institutions in arts and higher education, is something we should all look to as an example of innovative, collaborative future-building,” he said. “We all benefit as a community from the expanded and dynamic possibilities this represents in our arts, culture and education sectors.”

For nearly 100 years, the two institutions have collaborated in a variety of important ways. This includes the FAC serving as the college’s de facto art department in the 1920s–1940s, co-hosting an annual Conference on Fine Arts in the 1930s, collaborating on shared programming and exhibitions throughout the decades, and the recent gift in 2015 of the FAC’s extensive art publication archives to the Tutt Library at Colorado College.

The goal of the alliance goes beyond merging two existing organizations: It seeks to create something new, ground- breaking and forward-looking, leaders of both institutions say. The partnership produces an operational structure that achieves key Colorado College and Fine Arts Center strategic objectives while helping to create long-term sustainability for the Fine Arts Center and solidifying a community goal of a sustainable, ongoing commitment to community fine arts programming. The result will be expanded community offerings and enriched student experiences. Tiefenthaler envisions a year of planning before implementing changes. “We want to hear from those who are committed to the Fine Arts Center as well as bring in new voices,” she said. A series of three listening sessions, open to the community, are planned:

  • 8, 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room
  • 14, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., CC’s Packard Performance Hall
  • 26, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room

Philanthropic leaders in the Colorado Springs community have pledged their support to this game-changing partnership. “Over the last couple of years, the Fine Arts Center has generated such great programming and great enthusiasm. Yet without public funding, there has been a long-term concern about its sustainability,” said longtime FAC supporter Margot Lane. “It has been imperative to find a bold, long-term, strategic solution. This union with Colorado College represents an innovative collaboration that I hope to see more of in our community. The Lane Foundation looks forward to committing significant financial resources to support this alliance.” Kathy Loo and Jim Raughton, local philanthropists and long-term patrons of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, have pledged an undisclosed amount to build the endowment to support the Fine Arts Center into the future. “We have a deep love for the Fine Arts Center, its past, its present and its future. We are excited about the sustainability that this alliance has created for our community’s signature arts institution and we are committed to see it succeed,” Loo said.

Alliances between institutions of higher education and nonprofit cultural institutions are an increasingly common model. Many liberal arts colleges and universities have alliances with museums, including Yale University, Harvard University, Williams College, Colby College, Smith College and Amherst College. Others have joined forces with professional theaters such as the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University, the Syracuse Stage and Syracuse University, Brown University and the Trinity Repertory Theatre. The model is advantageous for both partners, as it allows for additional cultural programming and educational resources, new avenues of fundraising and greater community impact and outreach. Additionally, cultural institutions can cut costs as part of the affiliation with the college or university through shared services. “Noncommercial arts will require the prestige and refuge” of higher-ed institutions, the president of Bard College said when Bard acquired the Longy School of Music in 2011.

The president of the Academy of Natural Sciences, which became part of Drexel University in Philadelphia five years ago, said colleges and universities are ideally suited for such partnerships, noting that “they tend to think about collaboration generally and comprehensively.”

The agreement between Colorado College and the Fine Arts Center calls for a four-year transition period to allow for careful planning and integration. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will retain its current name until July 1, 2017, when it will become known as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. By July 1, 2020, the Fine Arts Center entity will be fully transferred to the college along with existing donor restrictions on the assets including the building and the art collection. The college will dedicate more than $20 million of its endowment for the ongoing support of the Fine Arts Center. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation will continue as a separate supporting foundation managing the existing FAC $13 million endowment for the mission of the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.

“As president of both El Pomar Foundation and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation, I am pleased to see this alliance between the Fine Arts Center and Colorado College,” said Thayer Tutt. “Arts institutions around the country are finding that alliances with institutions of higher education create great programming synergies and long- term sustainability. This alliance will allow the Fine Arts Center to build upon its nearly 100-year legacy as the center of our arts community and to develop new initiatives that serve the academic mission of the college, all for the betterment of our region. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation looks forward to working with Colorado College in the years to come to strengthen the bond between the college and the Pikes Peak community.”

The Colorado College/Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Alliance Frequently Asked Questions August 25, 2016

  1. What exactly is the alliance? The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will become part of Colorado College. It will continue its mission to the community and also will provide programming as part of the CC student academic experience.
  2. What is the timing of the alliance? As of Aug. 25, 2016, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Board of Trustees, the Colorado College Board of Trustees and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation have approved the formal documents. The deal is effective as of that date and CC will take over management responsibilities on Sept. 1, 2016. The agreement between CC and the Fine Arts Center (FAC) calls for a four-year transition period. The FAC will continue with all of its planned programming this year (through June 30, 2017). Some minor changes may occur; more significant changes will be considered as part of the strategic planning process. These changes will be rolled out over the following three years as follows: a focus on the museum starting in July 2017; a focus on Bemis School of Art starting in July 2018; and a focus on the theatre starting in July 2019.
  3. What is the strategic planning process? The agreement calls for a strategic planning process that begins in September and concludes in June of 2017. There will be multiple committees comprised of knowledgeable individuals from both organizations, as well as subcommittees examining each of the FAC’s primary program areas (museum, performing arts and art school) and exploring possibilities related to existing programming and integrating programs into the academic mission of CC. There will be community listening sessions to gather public input during September 2016, as well as public review sessions of the proposed plans in early spring 2017. The community listening session dates are Sept. 8, 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the Fine Arts Center Music Room; Sept. 14, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. in CC’s Packard Performance Hall; and Sept. 26, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Fine Arts Center Music Room.
  4. What can we expect regarding the FAC’s art collection? The FAC’s mission of collecting, conserving, exhibiting and interpreting significant and relevant works of art will continue. We anticipate the art collection will be improved and expanded under the alliance. CC is required to: 1) maintain museum accreditation with the American Alliance of Museums (AAM); and 2) maintain a knowledgeable collections committee to oversee the FAC’s collection policy. No art may be sold to create operating revenue.
  5. How will the main FAC building be used in the future? The main FAC building will continue to be used primarily for the mission of the FAC as an arts institution for the entire community. There will be CC events and activities hosted at the FAC, but the primary use of the building will be to further the mission of the FAC.
  6. What will happen to the FAC’s endowment held at the FAC Foundation? The FAC’s historic endowment will continue to be managed by the CSFAC Foundation. Some donors have pledged to make additional contributions to this endowment. Other donors may give to this endowment for the ongoing benefit of the FAC. The FAC Foundation will make some bylaw and governance changes in order to continue to fund the mission of the Fine Arts Center as a part of the college. In addition to preserving the existing endowment funds, CC is committing substantial resources and fundraising efforts to more than double the size of the overall endowment funding supporting the Fine Arts Center.
  7. What happens to the existing CSFAC Board? Certain members of the CSFAC Board and CSFAC Foundation Board will form a nine-member joint board beginning July 1, 2017, and operate as a separate governing board. At the same time, a new Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College advisory board will be appointed to be involved with programming, community relations and fundraising. Initially, half of the advisory board will be appointed by CC and half will be appointed by the CSFAC board. Long-term, the advisory board will be self-perpetuating with the CSFAC Foundation Board and Colorado College each appointing two representatives to the board. At some point before 2019, the CSFAC Board will cease to be legally necessary.
  8. What about the museum? Discussions on the desired future state of museum staffing will be accelerated to enable planning for the mid-range and long-range future. We also want to allow the strategic planning process for the museum to inform plans for staffing and hiring.
  9. What will theatre programming look like? The FAC will continue producing professional theatre for the foreseeable future. Long-term, the nature of productions may change as they have evolved throughout the FAC’s history. The agreement ensures that the Fine Arts Center will continue to provide performing arts experiences for the Colorado Springs community. There is a high likelihood that CC students will be involved in some productions and may stage a production of their own in the FAC theatre.
  10. What is going to happen to Bemis School of Art? Bemis classes will likely continue as they are now for at least the next two years. During the strategic planning process we will explore how best to achieve the arts-education mission and what opportunities are created by collaborating with CC departments and programs. This agreement creates the opportunity for the FAC to expand and enrich its arts-education programming.
  11. What about the Bemis building? The Bemis School of Art building is not in good condition. A recent assessment from a professional firm stated that the building is “beyond its useful life.” There have been no determinations as to what should be done and this will be a point of discussion for the Bemis School of Art strategic planning subcommittee.
  12. What happens to the staff of the FAC? The FAC’s current president and CEO, David Dahlin, will continue in his position and be instrumental in shepherding the alliance. Initially the staff of the FAC will continue to be employed by the existing CSFAC and its 501(c)3. During the next year, assessments will be conducted as to the future organizational and staffing needs. By July 1, 2017, it is anticipated that most staff will be transferred to become employees of the college.
  13. How will the agreement be monitored? The agreement is clear about the use and enhancement of the FAC assets. CC will be responsible for abiding by all donor restrictions including important restrictions that are a part of this agreement. CC will provide regular reports to the CSFAC Foundation on its use of the assets and on the foundation’s annual grants.
  14. What is the financial situation of the FAC? The Fine Arts Center has done well in many respects in recent years. It undertook a $30 million expansion and renovation in 2007 on which there is about a $2 million shortfall. In the last two years it has increased earned revenue (ticket sales, etc.) by more than 50 percent. This spring it announced a new $1 million gift. Nonetheless, without regular public funding or a large endowment, the institution has to rely heavily on annual donations from the community. This has made the FAC financially vulnerable for years. Executive leadership and the board of trustees had been exploring options for greater long-term financial security and sustainability. This alliance emerged as a viable opportunity and this agreement provides a solid and secure financial future for the Fine Arts Center.
  15. What does this mean for CSFAC members and theatre subscribers? Not much is expected to change, at least for a few years. In July 2017 there likely will be a transition of membership because of legal organizational changes related to the FAC no longer being a stand-alone entity. We do not anticipate that these changes will have significant adverse impact on a member’s FAC connection or experiences. We will communicate those changes once they are more fully known.
  16. Does the FAC still need my money? Yes. The FAC will still be dependent upon community support and funding in order to deliver quality programming. CC’s support will be very helpful but the community must stay involved for the FAC to have a bright future.
  17. Can I still donate directly to the FAC? You can continue to make contributions to the CSFAC. Nothing changes until July 2017, when there will be legal and financial changes with the FAC’s accounts being a part of the college’s. Details will be communicated then. The agreement ensures that all donations made for the FAC can only be used for the FAC.
  18. Can you explain the legal steps in this deal? There are three stages: In year one (beginning now), the CSFAC and CC are entering into a “management services agreement” where the CSFAC agrees to have CC “manage” the FAC on its behalf. As of July 1, 2017, employees, contracts and donations will transfer to CC. At that point, CC will lease the physical assets of the FAC (the land, the buildings and the art collection) from the CSFAC for the next three years, governed by a lease agreement. The final step involves the CSFAC converting to an LLC controlled by the CSFAC Foundation, and by June 30, 2020, the CSFAC Foundation will transfer the legal entity of the CSFAC and all of its assets and liabilities to CC in a restricted transfer agreement.
  19. What was the purchase price/cost/value of this deal? This was not a sale or acquisition as in a for-profit scenario. Both institutions are non-profit and the missions of both institutions are continuing. No individual or institution received a payment or made money from this transaction. This is a transfer of stewardship of the mission, the assets and the art collection for the benefit of the public.