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New Arts Endeavor Plunges Ahead
Wednesday, May 25, 2016


Bellevue has two new arts commissioners, and they have their first deadline today.

The Bellevue council unanimously approved the creation of the city’s first municipally sanctioned  Bellevue Arts Commission Monday evening following a presentation by Bellevue photographer Anne Jeffery and Suzanne Hazlett, co-founder of the Wood River Valley Studio Tour.

And they appointed the two women as the first commissioners.

“It was great to see our community leaders embrace the newly founded Bellevue Arts Commission. I can't wait to see what amazing things they will accomplish,” said Bellevue Mayor Chris Koch. “The Bellevue Arts Commission is going to help lay the foundation to help Bellevue truly become the gateway to the Sawtooths.”

Jeffery is meeting with other artists, business people and entrepreneurs who would be willing to contribute their skills to serve on the commission to bring the transformative change she and Hazlett envision. The commission would encompass at least five commissioners and maybe as many as seven.

“There was a lot of thought and research that went in to developing our proposal for an Arts Commission, but now we need to take that dream and turn it into something tangible,” said Jeffery. “Having an arts commission endorsed by the city will facilitate and widen the spectrum of grants that will be available to promote the arts in the community of Bellevue.”

Jeffery and Hazlett are also trying to identify not just the visual artists in the community but artists of all disciplines, including music, dance, theater, literature and the culinary arts.

“Harry Griffith of the Sun Valley Economic Development organization has always felt there was a big interest in the culinary arts—look at the popularity of food festivals. We could incorporate wine and cheese tastings, beer tastings—there’s all kinds of possibilities,” said Hazlett.

Already, Jeffery and Hazlett have their hands full constructing a first draft of a grant application for a Technical Assistance grant to be awarded by the Idaho Commission of the Arts. The deadline is today.

The grant award, which ranges from $500 to $1,500, would provide the funds to hire a cultural planning consultant to assess the City of Bellevue and recommend how the city can get the biggest bang for its buck with finite resources. The plan would also serve as the basis for other larger grant opportunities.

Hazlett said volunteers from the Boise Junior League approached the city of Boise more than 40 years ago about establishing that city’s first arts commission. Over the years the commission has advised the council in its development, promotion and support of the arts. It was assigned a director and part-time assistant in 1997. It passed its 1 percent ordinance for the arts in 2001. And in 2008 it became its own city department--the Boise Arts and History Department.

Hazlett said she and Jeffery see Bellevue as the gateway to the arts in the Wood River Valley. She expects the new commission—an independent nonprofit organization-- to contribute to the vitality, cultural tourism and positive economic impact of Bellevue and the entire valley.

“Anne lives in Bellevue. I live in Ketchum. But I see Bellevue as my community, too, and I see the residents there as my neighbors,” she said. “This arts commission is very intertwined with everything the Wood River Valley Studio Tour does throughout the year—the Wood River Valley Studio Tour began in Bellevue. “And when one organization succeeds, the entire community benefits.”

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