Beet Street plan shows potential, deserves support

Beet Street’s Beth Flowers wasn’t happy with the headline over our story in the last edition of the Business Report, about the organization’s big plans to reinvent itself.

“Losses in incubator’s first years,” it said.

Her complaint? Essentially, that the newsroom was stating the obvious, that any startup would expect losses in its early years.

She’s right about startups and losses; they go hand-in-hand. But that doesn’t exactly make the fact of upcoming losses any less newsworthy or the headline any less accurate, especially in an organization that historically has relied on taxpayer support. That public support ends at the end of this year, so Flowers and everyone else at Beet Street have been working hard to find a new way for the organization to sustain itself.

Beet Street is a community asset and its financial condition should be of interest to us all, whether we take in and enjoy what it offers or not.

The point really worth making in this (editorial) space isn’t one that any reader of our (news) headline and its accompanying story would have been able to discern: We believe Beet Street adds tremendous value to our community and that it deserves our help.

Moreover, Flowers and her gang have come up with what sounds like a pretty good plan to keep Beet Street up and running and perhaps even growing.

As reported by our Molly Armbrister, Beet Street’s new Arts Incubator of the Rockies will be vastly expanding its classroom-based and online offerings in hopes of attracting students who would enroll in more than 1,500 courses by 2014. Enrollment next year is expected to amount to just a couple dozen students, so Beet Street’s business plans are unquestionably ambitious.

But there’s reason for optimism. There are roughly 280,000 people who make their livelihoods in the arts in the 10 states that Beet Street will be targeting in its new form, and it won’t take that many to become involved to make Beet Street’s numbers work. Best yet, it has already received commitments of support from five of the 10 Western states that Beet Street hopes to serve as it establishes itself as a regional collaboration and education center.

The arts, as most any village idiot can tell you, deserve communitywide support. Not just because they pretty up our lives. But because the creative sector is responsible for 186,000 jobs statewide.
Public support in these austere times is harder, if not impossible, to come by for organizations like Beet Street. That’s why area businesses need to step up to the plate. It’ll be good for their souls and, very likely, their pocketbooks.

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