A city committee has allocated $15,000 to help pay for a national symposium that organizers hope will help boost Santa Fe as a center for new thinking.

The Occupancy Tax Advisory Board said the money would come from the city lodgers’ tax to support an initiative by Creative Santa Fe for a nuclear weapons symposium. It would engage participants in the history of nuclear weapons, current threats and weapons issues. The event will include visits to historic sites on nuclear weaponry around Santa Fe and Los Alamos.

In supporting the Dec. 4-7 symposium, the Occupancy Tax Advisory Board acknowledged last week that the money is a different way of promoting Santa Fe. It will not be spent on advertising, but on helping to bring the participants to the city and to pay some of the costs for food, events and lodging.

Cyndi Conn, executive director of Creative Santa Fe, said the city has a deep reservoir of retired government workers, corporate executives and residents with doctoral degrees. Her group hopes to tap that brainpower at this summit and another the group is planning for 2017 on conflict and mediation.

She said Santa Fe should be using its intellectual resources to build a brand.

“We want to shine a spotlight on Santa Fe and have a different type of tourist,” Conn said. “We want to establish Santa Fe as a Geneva of thought leadership. We know this is ambitious.”

Across three days, 20 to 30 interdisciplinary leaders from across the country “will be immersed in the history of nuclear weapons, discuss present-day nuclear threats and explore ‘what if’ scenarios about the future of global security,” according to the written proposal submitted to the committee.

Conn said the target age group for the summit are those from 35 to 57, a generation that knows little about nuclear weapons.

Among those supporting the conference are Valerie Plame, a former CIA operations officer, who is retired in Santa Fe and is listed as a panelist for the summit. Keynote speeches are planned by William Perry, a former secretary of defense, and Eric Schlosser, a journalist and history scholar who has written about nuclear accidents.

The preliminary program includes public discussion at the Lensic Theater on Dec. 4, tours of Los Alamos National Laboratory and other historic sites, a discussion of deterrence theory and a workshop on the future of global security.

Al Lucero, a restaurateur who serves on the committee, grew up in Santa Fe and remembers the role the city played in development of the atomic bomb that ended World War II. But many visitors to Santa Fe, he said, don’t know the city’s place in that history. He said he hopes the event will help raise that awareness and attract more cultural tourists.

The city’s contribution is just part of program costs estimated at $178,000. Other contributors include Sandia National Laboratories, the Ploughshares Fund, the state Department of Tourism, Garcia Infiniti in Albuquerque and Nsquare, a funding consortium led by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and the MacArthur Foundation to raise awareness about nuclear issues.

The 7 percent lodgers’ tax is paid by guests who stay overnight in hotels and vacation rentals. Part of the proceeds go to pay for debt and operations at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center and part to fund marketing of Santa Fe and tourist-related services. The tax raised $9.7 million in fiscal year 2016.

Contact Bruce Krasnow at brucek@sfnewmexican.com.

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