BY FREDA MIKLIN
At its January 9 meeting, the Greenwood Village City Council presented its outgoing Arts and Humanities Council (GVAHC) Chair Catherine Huggins with a plaque recognizing and commending her eight years of service to the city, which included the statements, “Catherine’s extensive knowledge has been a significant and integral part in developing the Village’s Cultural Arts Master Plan,” and, “Catherine’s guidance has benefitted the Village’s cultural arts programming as shown through the many who have explored and engaged in the arts.”
Accepting the award, as well as a green-and-white golf umbrella, from Mayor Lantz, Ms. Huggins thanked him and said, “I really enjoyed my time on the Arts Council. I know that we haven’t always agreed, but I think that’s the best part of being a citizen-run (city) council, as well as arts council—you allow us to say what we have to say, as well.”
A few minutes later, Mike Mazenko, a longtime GV resident who is a teacher and administrator at Cherry Creek High School and pens a column in The Villager, pleaded with the city council to reconsider and reverse its decision to force GVAHC to change the criteria for eligibility for a merit scholarship of $5,000 to study art in college, from high school seniors throughout Arapahoe County, to only those whose parents live in GV. He said, “For twenty years, I’ve loved our hamlet of Greenwood Village, a community that values and supports the arts…We have never limited appreciation of the arts to only Village residents. We want non-residents to come to GV and support the arts. We want people to visit art shows at the Curtis Center. We want them to take arts classes here. We want them to see movies at the Landmark. We want them to enjoy – and spend their money on – concerts at Fiddler’s Green…”
He continued, “This GV arts scholarship has… for 35 years…set a wonderful example of support for the arts among young people. Please don’t destroy that legacy and close our city off. Let’s dispense with the idea that Greenwood Village is only for residents. Let’s not build walls – let’s open doors. The scholarship is about one thing and one thing only – supporting the arts through the young people who are its future. Please continue this legacy of civic stewardship.”
When Mazenko finished to applause by members of the audience who were mostly there to honor their retiring neighborhood postal carrier, another GV resident, Chris Leonard, who had not planned to speak, stood up to say that she was a longtime supporter of the Curtis Center for the Arts and agreed with Mazenko. She, too, drew applause from the room.
Later in the meeting, Council Member Anne Ingebretsen introduced a resolution reappointing GVAHC At-Large Member Clare Langley-Hawthorne, whose current term expires this month. After District Three Council Member Donna Johnston seconded Ms. Langley-Hawthorne’s reappointment, District One Council Member Paul Wiesner asked Ingebretsen whether she had spoken to Ms. Langley-Hawthorne “after all that’s happened.” Wiesner was referring to the conflict between the city council and the GVAHC about the arts scholarships, which are merit-based and which the GVAHC unanimously voted to discontinue completely because, based on their prior experience, they concluded it is very unlikely they’d be able to identify deserving candidates using city council’s new highly restrictive criteria and were also uncomfortable with the message of exclusivity it sends.
Ingebretsen confirmed that she had spoken with Ms. Langley-Hawthorne, who wished to be reappointed, adding, “Going forward, I think all the district representatives probably need to sit down with their designated arts and humanities appointees and talk about what the purpose of the (GVAHC) is and make sure everybody’s on the same page.”
When Mayor Lantz called the vote, it passed, six to one (Council Member Kerber was absent) with District Three Council Member Libby Barnacle voting no to Langley-Hawthorne’s reappointment. In an email she sent later that evening, Barnacle said that she hoped to award the two arts scholarships authorized by the city council “without the approval of or cooperation with the Arts and Humanities Council,” about whom, she said, “It is more than apparent that they would rather advance a grudge than the talent and potential of Village senior high students.” Barnacle added that she had “volunteered to chair the application and award committee.”