From Darkness To Light

11 Apr 2023

Durango Arts Center Director solicits City officials for grant money under false pretenses

Posted by Adam Howell


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Durango Arts Center Director Brenda Macon made multiple false representations in an application and letter of solicitation for 2022 Lodger’s Tax Arts and Culture funds.

Durango Arts Center Director Brenda Macon

Durango Art Center Executive Director Brenda Macon.

After City officials received the application, the City of Durango awarded the Lodger’s Tax money to Durango Arts Center.

Notably, the City of Durango’s 2022 Lodger’s Tax money was used to repair the roof of Durango Arts Center (DAC) following Brenda Macon’s submission of their application under false pretenses. Macon signed and submitted an Acknowledgement of Acceptance form on behalf of DAC on July 29, 2022.

Specifically, the Durango Arts Center’s application and letter (solicitation) to the the City of Durango’s Creative Economy Commission for the Lodger’s Tax funds contained multiple false pretenses and representations about the ownership and funding status of Durango Arts Center.

For instance, in Brenda Macon’s June 30, 2022 letter to the City of Durango’s Creative Economy Commission requesting and soliciting Lodger’s Tax Arts and Culture funding, multiple false pretenses and false representations were made in one paragraph (p. 23):

“In addition, the DAC building is not owned by the City as many believe. The building was purchased from the City by the DAC in 1996 at a fair price. The City has a silent interest in ownership only recognized in the event of a sale. DAC pays for all maintenance and improvements to the building which is roughly $100,000 a year. Again, the City does not currently provide any funding towards this upkeep and improvements to the building,” said Brenda Macon.

DAC_2022_LTAC_App

However, the Special Warranty Deed for the DAC property shows that the City of Durango and Durango Arts Center are grantees, meaning that the City of Durango is an owner. Furthermore, the City of Durango has an ownership interest in the permanent property of DAC in the event that DAC dissolves or vacates the facility. #11, Agreement of Purchase and Sale.

Durango Arts Center Director Brenda Macon solicited funds from the City of Durango under the false pretense that the City of Durango did not own Durango Arts Center.

Moreover, DAC is a 501(c)(3) public charity. DAC receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or from the general public described in section 170(b)(1)(A)(vi) of the U.S. tax code. See Form 990.

For example, Durango Arts Center received a $181,115-dollar Shuttered Venue Operating Grant (SVOG) in 2021 from the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Additionally, DAC’s (501c3) assets do not belong to any one individual or shareholder.

DAC did not meet the definition of a Private Foundation under the U.S. tax code in 2019, as apparent in the most recent publicly-available version of DAC’s Form 990.

Durango Arts Center Director falsely claims “no public funding” from City

Also in Durango Arts Center Director Brenda Macon’s application for the 2022 Lodger’s Tax Arts and Culture funding, she said (p. 8),

“No public funding is provided from City of Durango or La Plata County.”

To the contrary, the DAC’s general operating fund was a recipient of the 2022 Community Support Fund grant at the the time when DAC solicited funds for the Lodger’s Tax Arts and Culture grant funds.

Due to Brenda Macon’s false representation in the course of soliciting Lodger’s Tax funds by saying that the DAC building is not owned by the City, and by saying that DAC pays for all maintenance and improvements to the building, which are both false pretenses, I believe that further investigation is needed.

Charitable fraud is prohibited by the Charitable Solicitations Act in C.R.S. 6-16-111(1)(g) which states:

“(g) With the intent to defraud, devises or executes a scheme or artifice to defraud by means of a solicitation or obtains money, property, or services by means of a false or fraudulent pretense, representation, or promise in the course of a solicitation. A representation may be any manifestation of any assertion by words or conduct, including, but not limited to, a failure to disclose a material fact.”

Black’s Law Dictionary defines defraud, in part, as “to trick (a person or organization) in order to get money.”

As such, I believe that Brenda Macon acted on behalf of Durango Arts Center to trick the City of Durango in order to get Lodger’s Tax Arts and Culture money.

Please read the petition below, which will be sent to the Colorado Secretary of State’s Charities Program, to the City of Durango Economic Opportunity Coordinator Tommy Crosby, and to Durango City Council individually by each person who signs it. After filling out the petition form, check your email inbox AND spam folder to find the confirmation email that must be opened and the link in the email must be clicked in order for your email to be sent.

Petition against Durango Arts Center soliciting grant money from City of Durango under false pretenses

2 signatures

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City of Durango Economic Opportunity Coordinator Tommy Crosby failed to reply to questions that I sent him for this story. He instead forwarded my questions to former Interim City Attorney Bill Tuthill, who has stonewalled me repeatedly on this issue.

To read a story about how Brenda Macon also provided false information about the ownership and funding status of Durango Arts Center to City of Durango police to have me trespassed from the public property CLICK HERE.

Adam Howell is a writer who believes in free press and the importance of the constitution. He can be reached by clicking on this link to the contact page.


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