CABQ 2018 Cultural Services Annual Report


A Snapshot of Who We Are

Albuquerque is big on arts and culture. I mean big. And that is not based on circumstantial evidence, nor rogue observation. It’s a quantifiable fact. In 2017, the United States Urban Arts Federation (USUAF) authored a Local Arts Agency report. Among the nation’s 60 largest cities (by population size), the report ranked agencies by revenue (including local government support). We ranked first place.

With a total budget of approximately $40 million dollars, Albuquerque puts its money where its values are when it comes to the cultural DNA of our city. Cultural Services is the fourth largest department in our city based on the number of employees. Mayor Tim Keller’s administration and our fellow taxpayers believe in the importance of public spaces that house our past, our present, and our future.

Ours is a department of collections. Living collections at the BioPark. Literature and learning collections at our libraries. Art collections at our museums. Public art collections in our government buildings and in our streets. People collecting in our theaters and at our community events.

There’s an old accounting proverb that says you can see an organization’s values in its budget. We invite you to unpack the Cultural Services Department budget and more in this annual report. Moreover, we invite you to take pride in the work that is done day in and day out across the cultural divisions in our department to make sure our residents and our visitors have access to their most precious shared resource: each other.

Dr. Shelle Sánchez

Cultural Services Department Director

But we couldn’t do this all on our own (even with our 500+ hard-working full-time, temporary, part-time and seasonal employees, interns and contractors — they’re incredible, but not superhuman, guys).

We have you to thank! Everything we do is publicly funded. Our $40 million budget, which goes to everything, is what keeps the Cultural Services Department running.

From: Feeding the Chaos and Mayhem (they’re otters)

To: Bringing the Muppets to town (see it on November 27th 2019 at the Albuquerque Museum)

From: Opening up the only 4D theater in the state. (Shout out to you, Balloon Museum!)

To: Putting on the biggest fireworks show in the state every 4th of July (Boom! That’s the folks at Community Events).

You (yes, you) make it happen.

The City of Albuquerque Cultural Services Department celebrates Albuquerque’s unique history and culture, and provides services, entertainment, programs, and collections that improve literacy, economic vitality, and quality of life across our city.

Our teams and facilities are at the center of this work. Each day, they help make our mission a reality.

Below you’ll meet our division leaders, get the inside scoop, and learn about the best times to visit, free stuff to do, and what they are most proud of this year.

It’s an honor to serve you, and we hope you’ll come out to enjoy all the amazing animals, plants, art, books, experiences and stories we keep — just for you.

At the BioPark there’s really something for everyone. Maybe you like to hold beetles? Or you want to pet a stingray? Maybe you don’t — either way, you’ll have an awesome (and educational) experience.

We wanted to get insider tips from the guy whose job is the stuff of childhood dreams. BioPark Director Dr. Baird Fleming shares his tips and tricks for visiting your BioPark:

Q: What cool things can be found at the BioPark?

A: First off, the BioPark isn’t one place, it’s several! We have a zoo, aquarium, heritage farm, insectarium, fishing ponds, an Aquatic Conservation Facility and one of the top botanic gardens in the country. We’ve got everything from Sequoias to polar bears to butterflies — and it’s really affordable, all-day family fun.

Q: What are you really proud of this year?

A: Our BioPark is involved in conservation on a global scale. This year we brought on two full time International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List Assessors who, in the first six months of working, have assessed over 600 species and written 600 reports that have informed researchers and conservationists from all over the world.

Q: As the director, you must have tons of things you love about the BioPark — what are your top favorites?

A: One of my favorite parts of the BioPark is the Bugarium. The building is just as intricate and complex as the insects housed in it. But I also love our otters, Chaos and Mayhem. They’ve both turned out to be big hams. My absolute favorite though is our staff; the passion and love they have for their animals and the nature around us is infectious and inspiring.

The Albuquerque Museum is one of our city’s cultural gems. And it’s like no other museum. Far from stuffy, their exhibits are unusual, but in the very best way.

Want to know more about the Albuquerque Museum? We’re in luck. Albuquerque Museum Director Andrew Connors shares his highlights:

Q: What’s unique about the museum, in your eyes?

A: Our exhibits are often unexpected. We bring in an exhibition, for example Deco Japan, that no one sees coming, and then the show is gangbusters! We do our best to create an atmosphere where Albuquerque can be surprised. People are able to find that unexpected spark of imagination that would not have been ignited sticking to the usual.

Q: What’s the best thing to do at the Albuquerque Museum?

A: It is a perfect place to find quiet. All of us live so with much noise around. The museum has places to sit and wander in peace and reflection. Our real gift is creating the space that helps visitors to the museum pull something out from inside of themselves.

Q: Tell us your secrets: where’s the best place to be in the Museum?

A: My favorite hidden place is the roof deck outside the museum overlooking the theater. It has the best view and it’s a great place to people watch. I also like walking through Numbe Whageh, a land art installation by Nora Noranjo-Morse in response the La Jornada Public Art Exhibition.

Q: What new stuff happened last year that you’re excited about?

A: We have a new director and a new curator, which means there is a lot to look forward to this coming year! And the consistent dedication of staff, membership, and volunteers this past year was so inspiring. They make the museum something truly worth experiencing.

Q: Is there anything most people don’t know about the Museum that they should?

A: We have over 200,000 historic photos that show Albuquerque’s history. Our oldest images date back to 1915. From early railroad travelers, to the founding of our airport, to historic buildings and storefronts, there is so much history to see!

Balloons… no big deal, right? Actually, since they launched humanity into aviation and flight, they are a pretty big deal.

Albuquerque has one of the largest collections of ballooning equipment and memorabilia in the world. Plus! There’s a 4D theater (the ONLY one in New Mexico), a weather lab and you can learn about the science behind drone racing.

With so much to be excited about, we sat down with Balloon Museum Manager Paul Garver to hear his take on visiting the Balloon Museum.

Q: So, addressing the elephant in the room: lots of people think the Balloon Museum is only open during the Fiesta. What do you say?

A: Nope! We are open year round. And there is so much to do for the whole family. The best and worst time to visit is during the Balloon Fiesta. It’s the best place to view it, but it can be hard to get to. Then in late fall and spring, lightning strikes the grounds during storms and it is majestic. Another great time to come is on the first Friday of the month and every Sunday morning when the museum is free!

Q: What’s the best part of being the Manager of Albuquerque’s Balloon Museum?

A: The best part of my job is that I get to be part of people making memories here. The space is so iconic. The architecture, the grounds, the view, the green space they all work together to create this uplifting gathering place. Whether you want to be surprised, inspired or fulfilled, you’ll find what you need here. We have something for everyone: from history, to science, to art.

Q: Name one must-see thing. Go!

A: The precipitation pod in the Weather Lab. It is an interactive exhibit that shows different kinds of precipitation. It is very meditative, especially the way it is designed to let light through to create the illusion of rain droplets. The visual elements and the accompanying sounds are hypnotizing.

Q: It’s cool with us if you brag a little bit! What are some of the best, newest developments at the Balloon Museum?

A: We established the only First Person View Drone Racing Series in New Mexico (possibly the Western US) and redesigned the International Ballooning Hall of Fame. With those two things, we now have the oldest and newest air sports represented at the Balloon Museum.

Ever noticed "Cruising San Mateo"? Or the 17 foot tall bronze statue of a man and eagle at our airport? These public art pieces are just two of (wait for it…) 1000 public art pieces in Albuquerque!

The inspiring folks at Public Art help make Albuquerque into a city that is a lot like a museum without walls. From sculptures, to murals, to paintings and photographs, public art is all over.

We interviewed director Sherri Brueggemann about Albuquerque’s public art program.

Q: What about public art is special to you?

A: Just by walking around in Albuquerque, you (sometimes quite literally) run into it. Most public art is available 24/7. It’s accessible and in public spaces, both beautifying our city and increasing the role art can play in all of our lives.

Q: There are obviously quite a few art gems in Albuquerque, but if you have to name one as your favorite, which would it be?

A: The New Mexico Veterans’ Memorial Park and Sculpture Garden is a must see. A true outdoor gem that most people don’t even know is a piece of public art. It covers 25 landscaped acres, and is home to numerous sculptures and a rose garden.

Q: What’s one of your most memorable accomplishments from last year?

A: The murals! We funded seven murals in 2018 — that’s more than we’ve ever funded in a calendar year. Albuquerque now has over 110 murals in neighborhoods all around town, and 52 of those were directly funding by the City of Albuquerque 1% for Art.

Maybe you haven’t heard of Community Events, but, chances are, you’ve been to one of their events.

From Summerfest, to the Twinkle Light Parade, to Freedom 4th, the folks at Community Events stay busy. They are behind the scenes, organizing free concert series, children’s programming, and cultural performances for everyone in Albuquerque to enjoy.

Since there are so many community events going on, we sat down with Community Events Manager Nikki Peone to find out what’s the best of the best this year.

Q: Are there any “don’t miss” events you suggest?

A: I love the Twinkle Light Parade (it’s been nationally recognized as a “Best Holiday Parade”) and the Dia de los Muertos celebration at South Broadway Cultural Center. Both bring out a great cross-section of our city. Then, I also love the South Broadway and KiMo galleries. They are a really peaceful (and free!) place to go and have a serene moment.

The KiMo Theatre, though… I can’t say enough about that place. Our 91-year-old theater is in the heart ofdowntown Albuquerque. They offer free tours. Around Halloween, the staff host a haunted ghost tour.

Q: What gives you the most happiness and joy about working in the community events department?

A: My favorite thing about our division really, truly is our effort to bring cultural diversity to our programming and to promote local talent through events that are safe, fun, and free or low-cost for families. At the zoo, for example, we can seat 5,000 people “picnic style” for a concert. Where else in Albuquerque can you do that? It’s really special and unique and we love providing these experiences for the public to share. It is really, really cool.

Q: Where are the best secret hideaways in the city?

A: Old Town has the best hideaways. Whether you want a great place to work or read or just get away, it has a lot of nooks and crannies in the patios and stores. You just have to explore and find them!

Q: One factoid. Go!

A: Special Events, within the Community Events division, has 553 interactions with local businesses, vendors, and artisans when organizing Freedom Fourth, Albuquerque Summerfest, Twinkle Light Parade, and Old Town programming.

Think libraries are just about books? Think again. In Albuquerque, our libraries offer everything from free music and movie streaming (say goodbye to paid streaming!) to cake pans you can borrow.

We went directly to the expert. Dean P. Smith, the Public Library Director, talked with us about what Albuquerque’s 21st century library system has to offer.

Q: Libraries aren’t just for people who always have their nose in a book, right?

A: Libraries are for everyone. In any Albuquerque Public Library, you can read a book, learn a language, listen to music, watch a movie, sign your teen up for a coding club, access information online, or download an e-book for vacation. And it is all for free. These days it seems like everyone is trying to sell us something, but not at the public library.

Q: What is your favorite thing about public libraries?

A: My favorite thing about public libraries is that they’re open to everyone. We welcome the whole community in, regardless of income, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, age, housing status, etc.

Q: How many libraries does Albuquerque have? And do they all offer the same stuff?

A: We have 18 libraries and each offers a varied experience — it just depends on what you’re looking for. The Taylor Ranch library has a million-dollar view of the Sandias. The South Valley Library feels like an early homestead and offers plenty of secluded courtyard views and corners where you can lose yourself in a good book. The Main Library is bustling when the children’s story time lets out and families parade through the library with their book finds. Each one of our branches offers their own unique experience and variety of events.

Q: What’s a good factoid about the library system?

A: There is only one library staff member for every 18,000 residents, and Albuquerque residents borrow over 4 million times each year. The staff definitely have their work cut out for them.

Q: What are you most excited about this year?

A: We’re working with the International District community on plans for a new full-service library on Central between Louisiana and Wyoming. We’re excited to share the interests of the community and fill some of their needs with a local library.

Did you know that Albuquerque has its very own TV channel? And that Cultural Services, through the Media Resources and GOV TV division has an entire media team dedicated to producing real-time streaming video? GOV TV covers everything from government meetings to local features, documentaries and educational shows.

We had a quick chat behind the camera with Media Resources Manager Diego Lucero, the person who keeps Albuquerque citizens informed from the comfort of their own couches.

Q: What exactly is GOV TV?

A: GOV TV is the source for all things educational, interesting and entertaining that our city has to offer. From covering City Council meetings to streaming documentaries, we tell the stories that keep the citizens of Albuquerque connected and engaged.

Q: What is the best part of your job?

A: The best part for me is streaming live events! For those who can’t be there in person, we bring events into their homes. Many of our city events are broadcast on GOV TV, and our content is available 24/7, so you can check it out whenever you want.

Q: What are you most proud about from last year?

A: Cultural Services assembled an inter-division Media Resources Team bringing together GOV TV and various communications specialists who work together to produce stories and content. The Media Resources Team played a vital role in promoting Show Up ABQ, our new talent showcase.

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