The vision and commitment to this project go back to the original planning for Willits and was memorialized in the approvals granted in 2001 for the Willits Town Center. That commitment to an arts center in Willits took the form of an Arts Parcel in the Southwest corner of the Willits Town Center and a Real Estate Transfer Assessment (RETA) – a .5% fee to support the Arts Parcel that is levied on each sale of most properties throughout the Town Center and the residential neighborhoods.
In 2010 the Town entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the TACAW team that was unanimously approved by the Town Council and in 2015 the Town Council unanimously approved a Pre-Development Agreement after hiring Joining Vision and Action (JVA), a nonprofit consulting firm, for an independent in-depth study of the opportunity and impacts of the Arts Campus at Willits.
The JVA study concluded that there is support in the community, it’s the right time to undertake it, that Willits is the ideal place, and that it will succeed. The study also found there will be significant economic benefits to Basalt businesses. The complete study is available here.
In 2017, the Town of Basalt commissioned a second study, conducted by the Arts Consulting Group, to assess the viability of the project based on the comprehensive business plan of the Arts Campus at Willits. Like the JVA study, this effort determined that TACAW has the right team in place, the marketplace is ready for the Arts Parcel to be developed, and, ultimately, the nonprofit will be successful. The complete study is available here.
Following the presentation of this study, the Arts Campus at Willits was awarded a 99-year lease on the Arts Parcel in Willits in September of 2017. As part of the lease agreement, the RETA funds will be granted to TACAW after the opening of a new performing arts center on the Arts Parcel. These funds will serve as the seed for an endowment for the organization to ensure its long term fiscal health.
With a lease in place, TACAW is now actively fundraising for the construction of a permanent home. The time has come to realize a promise almost twenty years in the making.