It’s clear that what many people in Taos mean by getting “support” from the Town of Taos is actually straight up cash or “sponsorship” – and that’s against the law – at least the way the Town divies up its Lodgers Tax allotment.
At a town-sponsored marketing workshop conducted Thursday evening (Oct. 12) in Town of Taos Council chambers at Coronado Hall, occasional Tempo contributor and owner of Two Graces Gallery, Robert Cafazzo, questioned the multiple individual business advertisements and videos on the Town’s Facebook page.
Cafazzo quoted Town Manager Rick Bellis from this reporter’s Sept. 21, 2017 Tempo column (“Gallery Glider”) regarding the state of the arts in Taos to date: “The biggest difficulty we have is explaining to people that, by law, we can’t advertise an individual business,” Bellis stated. “Our job is to get the visitors to town and it’s (the merchants’) job to give them something to see.”
Cafazzo asked why several individual businesses were allowed to post ads and videos on the Town-sponsored social media page.
“Because those are all paid listings,” Director of Marketing and Tourism Ana Karina Armijo explained. Cafazzo thought one or two of the businesses were not paid and Armijo directed staff to check into the businesses Cafazzo claimed were getting free media play.
At a brief roundtable marketing workshop seeking community input that followed the marketing activities presentation by Armijo and the the Town’s new PR company, Waite Company, Taos Art Council President Paul Figueroa noted he wanted a similar commitment from the Town as that of Taos County – i.e., $90,000 devoted to the nonprofit arts sector in fiscal year 2016.
Armijo explained that the County operates on a grant basis – a formalized operation sanctioned by the state’s procurement code – whereby an individual or entity applies through the County’s grant process and is then approved or not, depending on the merits and impact of the grantee’s proposal – a wholly different process from the procurement code’s 40 percent minimum of Lodgers Tax to be spent promoting Taos at large, rather than individually.
“We spend more, 50 percent, of our Lodgers Tax on promoting Taos,” Armijo said, and that must be merchant- or organization-driven activities that her department will then promote state and nationwide with Lodgers Tax monies.
This approach is both all and nothing new prior to Armijo taking the reins of the marketing department in 2015. A point which will be wrangled with in next week’s Oct. 19 Tempo article on the state of arts marketing in Taos.
For more information, email Karina Armijo, firstname.lastname@example.org with questions or visit TAOS.org – the official online travel guide to Taos. The office is located in Town of Taos complex, at 400 Camino de la Placita. Office (575) 737-5849, mobile (575) 779-9639.