A History Colorado grant specialist visited Cortez on Thursday to help organizations learn how to get funding for preservation.
Michael Owen, of the State Historical Fund’s southwest regional office in Durango, gave a presentation at Cortez City Hall on how to apply for grants with his organization. It was one of several roundtable discussions that History Colorado is hosting this summer in towns across the state. Representatives from the Cortez Historic Preservation Board, the Montezuma County Historical Society, the Colorado Archaeological Society and Living Heritage Anthropology attended.
“We do a lot of projects in Denver,” Owen said. “I like working with projects in the smaller communities too.”
The Historical Fund hosts similar presentation tours every summer, he said. The organization has awarded more than $273 million in grants to various historic preservation projects since its creation in 1990. Several Montezuma County places have benefited from those funds, including the Sunflower Theatre in Cortez.
Owen explained the different grants the fund offers, such as funds for historic structure assessment, archaeological assessment and education. While the amount of a grant can vary widely, Owen said even the smaller ones can be competitive. He said the best way to get funding is to write a detailed, realistic application and prove that the project is urgent and beneficial to the public. He also gave a few practical tips, like saving a copy of the application and sending drafts to History Colorado in advance for feedback.
Attendees at the meeting asked questions throughout Owen’s presentation. Jessica Yaquinto, founder of the Living Heritage Anthropology group, mostly works with Native American tribes in the Southwest. Since sites need to be formally designated as historic places in order to qualify for History Colorado grants, she asked how that would affect tribal governments’ chances at getting funded.
“They have, sometimes, mixed feelings about formal designation,” she said. “If there was some sort of documentation from the tribe that the place was important, would that be enough?”
Owen said all sites applying for grants do need formal designation, but he added that many important archaeological sites on Native land are already registered as historic places.
Ann Brown, of the Montezuma County Historical Society, said she may apply for a “minigrant” to repair a wall at Lake View Community Center, the group’s new headquarters. Patricia Lacey, of the Cortez Historic Preservation Board, said the board may seek planning grants for its inventory of historic buildings south of Main Street. The grant application deadlines are Oct. 1 and April 1.
The State Historical Fund has scheduled six more roundtable events this summer in Lake City, Aurora, Fort Garland, Trinidad, Manitou Springs and Denver.