The Art Base fosters creative expression in the visual arts for all ages and abilities through education, exhibitions and events.


The Art Base (formerly the Wyly Art Center) was established in 1996 by artist Deb Jones with the goal of supporting art as an essential human endeavor with the understanding that everyone at every age has the ability to develop and express creativity. The Wyly Art Center was originally established in Woody Creek as a project of Compass, a nonprofit educational foundation committed to experiential learning and educational excellence. In 2005 the Wyly Art Center formed as an independent Colorado nonprofit with its own 501(c)(3) status. Seeking a more central location in the Roaring Fork Valley, the art center moved to historic downtown Basalt, and established itself as the mid-valley arts organization—serving the entire Roaring Fork community of artists and art enthusiasts. In 2015 the Wyly Art Center changed its name to the Art Base, a vital new enterprise to nurture and celebrate the visual arts and artists of the Roaring Fork Valley.


The Art Base offers an inspiring place for learners of all ages and abilities to explore their creativity. The Art Base is dedicated to sustaining a learning environment that fosters collaboration, builds community and embraces the creative potential of each individual. The Art Base Charles J. Wyly Gallery exhibits Colorado-based student, emerging, and established artists. In addition to their diverse exhibitions schedule, the Art Base hosts an opening reception and art talk every month. They pride themselves in offering free community events and a vibrant schedule of arts classes for adults and youth (both in school and outside of the classroom). Through growing partner and outreach programs, they strive to make art accessible to the at-risk and underserved, including the developmentally disabled, teen parents and youth in addiction recovery.


Arts promote true prosperity. The arts are fundamental to our humanity and foster creativity, goodness, and beauty. The arts help us express our values, build bridges between cultures, and bring us together regardless of ethnicity, religion, or age.

Arts improve academic performance. Students with an education rich in the arts have higher GPAs and standardized test scores, and lower drop-out rates—benefits reaped by students regardless of socio-economic status. Students with four years of arts or music in high school average 100 points better on their SAT scores than students with just one-half year of arts or music.

Arts strengthen the economy. The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis reports that the arts and culture sector represents 3.25 percent of the nation’s GDP—a larger share of the economy than tourism and agriculture. The nonprofit arts industry alone generates $135 billion in economic activity annually (spending by organizations and their audiences) that supports 4.1 million jobs and generates $22.3 billion in government revenue.

Arts are good for local merchants. Attendees at nonprofit arts events spend $24.60 per person, per event, beyond the cost of admission on items such as meals, parking, and babysitters. Attendees who live outside the county in which the arts event takes place spend twice as much as their local counterparts ($39.96 vs. $17.42)—valuable revenue for local businesses and the community.

Arts drive tourism. Arts travelers are ideal tourists, staying longer and spending more to seek out authentic cultural experiences. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that the percentage of international travelers including museum visits on their trip has grown steadily since 2003 (18 to 24 percent).

Arts spark creativity and innovation. The Conference Board reports that creativity is among the top five applied skills sought by business leaders—with 72 percent saying creativity is of high importance when hiring. Their Ready to Innovate report concludes, “The arts—music, creative writing, drawing, dance—provide skills sought by employers of the 3rd millennium.”

Arts have social impact. University of Pennsylvania researchers have demonstrated that a high concentration of the arts in a city leads to higher civic engagement, more social cohesion, higher child welfare, and lower poverty rates. A vibrant arts community ensures that young people are not left to be raised solely in a pop culture and tabloid marketplace.

Arts improve healthcare. Nearly one-half of the nation’s healthcare institutions provide arts programming for patients, families, and even staff. 78 percent deliver these programs because of their healing benefits to patients—shorter hospital stays, better pain management, and less medication.

Arts mean business. The Creative Industries are arts businesses that range from nonprofit museums, symphonies, and theaters to for-profit film, architecture, and design companies. A 2014 analysis of Dun & Bradstreet data counts 750,453 businesses in the U.S. involved in the creation or distribution of the arts that employ 3.1 million people—representing 4.2 percent of all businesses and 2.2 percent of all employees, respectively.


* 10 Reasons to Support the Arts, Americans for the Arts.
Arts & Economic Prosperity IV Summary Report, Americans for the Arts.