MEEKER I The Heritage Culture Center Committee benefited from a CHAMP mentor this past week who spent three days in Meeker educating the committee on strategic planning—helping them re-formulate their mission statement and documenting their goals and objectives.
CHAMP is a state-funded program underneath Colorado Tourism, an acronym for Cultural Heritage Agri-tourism Mentor Program. As part of the Colorado Tourism Office’s efforts to raise awareness of and appreciation for cultural, heritage and agricultural assets statewide, the Heritage and Agri-tourism Program initiated a peer-assistance and training program for farms and ranches, businesses, museums, attractions and organizations that want to improve or expand their own cultural, heritage tourism or agri-tourism attractions.
Highly qualified professionals apply to the program to become mentors along with non-profit organizations that need assistance.
In the fall of 2014, the Rio Blanco County Historical Society discussed the possibility of becoming involved in heritage tourism. Everyone had become painfully aware of the economic downturn and the toll it was having on our communities, and it was pointed out that heritage tourism was the No. 1 economic driver for Colorado.
What if the historical society could play a role in not only stepping up our efforts to educate our own citizens on our rich history but also share it in a way that would bring more tourism to our area?
An inquiry was made to the CHAMP program to possibly assist in this concept. Immediate communication with the program followed, but it wasn’t until January this year that a formal application was finalized with a business plan that included the newly acquired Old West Heritage Culture Center.
On April 23, the committee was notified its application had been approved by the CHAMP Selection Committee. Conference calls and emails followed on how best to match the needs here with a mentor and Dr. Constance DeVereaux, a professor at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, was chosen.
DeVereaux has worked as an arts management consultant, arts advocate and researcher. She is an international expert in arts and cultural policy and served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist in policy and management at universities in Finland, South Africa and Romania.
She created the arts management master’s program at Claremont Graduate University and the arts management minor at Northern Arizona University and is the former director of the arts administration program at Shenandoah University. She lectures internationally on arts management and policy topics and is a frequent presenter at international conferences.
During her three days with the Heritage Culture Center Committee and the Heritage Tourism Task Force in Meeker, she utilized her wealth of information to help begin to structure a documented strategic plan that will serve the groups as they grow and continue to energetically promote heritage tourism in Rio Blanco County.
There’s more to follow, according to Rio Blanco County Historical Society President Ellene Meece, but one thing the committee and task force knows and can declare as their mission statement, “The HCCC believes Rio Blanco County thrives on celebrating its heritage roots.”