FARMINGTON — The first year the Connie Gotsch Arts Foundation offered scholarships and grants, 14 people and organizations applied for and received funds.

These recipients attended the foundation's gala on Saturday evening at the Farmington Museum. Some spoke at the event, while others danced, performed or screened a video.

The gala celebrated the work the foundation has completed, as well as its one-year anniversary. So far this year, 17 people and groups have received funding from the foundation.

The foundation hosted its first gala in April 2013 to announce the beginning of the organization.

At right, Mick Hesse, president of the Connie Gotsch Arts Foundation, introduces fellow board members during a gala on Saturday at the Farmington Museum
At right, Mick Hesse, president of the Connie Gotsch Arts Foundation, introduces fellow board members during a gala on Saturday at the Farmington Museum celebrating the first year of the foundation supporting the arts in San Juan County. (Jon Austria/The Daily Times)

The foundation is named after the late Connie Gotsch, a local radio personality and arts supporter. Gotsch left her money in the care of three friends when she died in July 2012. She asked her friends to use the money to create the foundation.

"Our mission, which we gladly accepted, was to find and support artists," said Mick Hesse, the foundation's board president, during the gala Saturday.

In addition to her radio program "Roving With the Arts," Gotsch was also wrote books. On the day she died, she wrote the last words in her final novel, "Belle's Challenge," which completed her children's trilogy about a dog named Belle.

The books were on sale at the gala Saturday. A portion of the money from book sales helps the foundation provide grants and scholarships.

The gala began with the Delbert Anderson Trio performing jazz music. The trio received funds last year to bring music into the public schools through workshops and concerts.

Animas River Arts and Entertainment presented a video from its two music festivals, Blues and Brews and Boots and Brews, which were partially funded by the foundation.

Cathy Pope, a board member, said the foundation chose to support Animas River Arts and Entertainment because the organization brings national artists to the Four Corners but also provides a venue for local artists to sell their crafts and local musicians to perform. At this year's Blues and Brews festival on July 19, for example, Farmington musician Shawn Arrington is scheduled to perform.

Beth McClure, one of the cofounders of Animas River Arts and Entertainment, said the organization lined up artists for this summer's Blues and Brews festival soon after last year's festival ended.

The Connie Gotsch Arts Foundation also funded Mann Dance Academy's annual winter production of "The Nutcracker." The dancers on Saturday performed two of their routines at the gala. The academy continues to receive support from the foundation, which also covered a portion of the cost for the academy's Evening of Dance dance recital a couple of weeks ago.

Hesse said artists of any medium can apply for the grants and scholarships. The only requirement is that the artist lives in San Juan County. The foundation accepts applications throughout the year. More information about the foundation and applications are available at

"We think that's an easier way of doing business," Hesse said.

Hannah Grover covers news, arts and religion for The Daily Times. She can be reached at 505-564-4652 and Follow her @hmgrover on Twitter.