City Council hears good news about Downtown programs
By Mike Cook
Las Cruces Bulletin
The Las Cruces City Council got some encouraging words about downtown during a nearly three and one-half hour work session on Monday afternoon, March 14.
The council heard updates from the Amador Hotel Foundation, Downtown Las Cruces Partnership, Farmers and Crafts Market and Rio Grande Theatre. All reported successful programs and strong partnerships.
Amador Hotel Foundation (AHF)
Board President Heather Pollard said the foundation has raised $575,000 in state capital outlay funds, private donations and board gifts to renovate the historic hotel, located at 180 W. Amador Ave. The money has been spent on an adaptive reuse study (2007), the repair and replacement of columns that support the hotel’s Farmers and Crafts Market (FCMLC)
Market Manager Duane Mosley said the FCMLC is tops among all 75 New Mexico farmers markets in the amount of food it distributes through food assistance programs.
Mosley said FCMLC provided more than $33,737 in food disbursement in 2015 through the SNAP/EBT (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program electronic benefits transfer) program, more than triple the $10,290 total in 2014. Through the New Mexico Farmers’ Marketing Association Double Up Food Bucks program, people can double the value of their SNAP benefits at the farmers market. As part of the Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program (FMNP), which includes WIC (Women, Infants and Children), Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program and Farmers’ Market Extended Nutrition Program, LCFCM cleared $95,240 in sales in 2015, up from $76,025 in 2014, Mosley said. “Our sales accounted for nearly one-quarter of the $404,955 in program funds redeemed New Mexico-wide,” he said. Santa Fe had $34,665 and Albuquerque, which has five markets, had $42,305, he said.
“We had a huge increase in WIC usage this year, which likely explains most of our increase in FMNP redemption,” Mosley said. “It is likely explained by the WIC offices setting up with our SNAP booth during market. They were so happy we are going to dedicate a booth space to them to ensure they have as much outreach potential as possible and they are scheduling people just for market participation.”
Mosley said FCMLC had 190 permanent vendors at the end of 2015, and has already added eight more this year. He said it also has more than 100 temporary vendors and 31 musicians. At $6 per week, he said FCMLC has the cheapest vendor rates of any farmers market in the state. It generated almost $106,000 in 2015 from vendor membership fees and space rentals.
Mosley said FCMLC has 45 nonprofit partners and partnered in 2015 with Casa de Peregrinos and Road Runner food banks, Cowboys for Cancer Research and others for food collections and fundraisers.
For more information, visit http:// www.fcmlc.org/.
Rio Grande Theatre (RGT)
Doña Ana Arts Council (DACC) Executive Director Kathleen Albers said RGT served 18,794 people in 2015 and had 142 total events. DACC is in the second year of an agreement with the City of Las Cruces to manage RGT.
Last year’s events included 46 paid events sponsored by RGT or by the theatre in partnership with other organizations, 48 free events produced by the theatre or in partnership with others and 50 rental events that included both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, Albers said.
Albers said free events included RGT’s Every Other Tuesday program, which the theatre has produced for the past 11 years to support local artists.
Albers said RGT produced six events for Las Cruces Public Schools students and also produced the summer Missoula Children’s Theatre and, in conjunction with the Santa Fe Opera, its first ever summer opera camps. Other partners included the Mexican consulate (six shows), City of Las Cruces, New Mexico Presenters Alliance, Doña Ana Lyric Opera, Downtown Las Cruces Partnership and Casa de Peregrinos.
Albers said funding for RGT included grants from the Western Area States Arts Federation, and the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs. She said RGT receives a percentage of room night charges from Hotel Encanto through the Heritage Hotels and Resorts program which generated more than $10,000 for the theatre last year.
For more information, visit http:// www.riograndetheatre.com/.