Dodge City officials announced the hiring of former Depot Theater Company CEO Bob Lancaster as the city's arts and tourism coordinator Thursday evening.

    Around $600,000 worth of "Why Not Dodge" funds were allocated earlier this year to create a Master Tourism Plan for the city. Part of the plan included money for a "tourism czar," someone dedicated to the coordination of all of the area's tourism venues.


Dodge City officials announced the hiring of former Depot Theater Company CEO Bob Lancaster as the city's arts and tourism coordinator Thursday evening.
    Around $600,000 worth of "Why Not Dodge" funds were allocated earlier this year to create a Master Tourism Plan for the city. Part of the plan included money for a "tourism czar," someone dedicated to the coordination of all of the area's tourism venues.
    "The biggest thing I'll have to do is review the tourism plan," Lancaster said. "That's really going to fuel a lot of what I will do. It will give us an idea where we need to go."
    The city is currently under contract with the Pennsylvania-based cultural resource firm Heberling and Associates to look at ways Dodge City and southwest Kansas could better market itself in modern times.
    "Implementation of the plan will be one of his main goals," City Manager Ken Strobel said. "Filling the coordinator position is a significant move forward in enhancing the area's tourism efforts."
    On top of sitting in on the final stages of the plan, Lancaster will be responsible for coordinating the efforts of existing tourist attractions and developing other partnerships within the area.
    Strobel said he hoped the position would help Dodge City finally reclaim its position as a tourism juggernaut — a position that has been steadily slipping as the Gunsmoke generation fades.
    Lancaster will have access to a $100,000-a-year budget. Of that, roughly $37,000 a year will pay his salary. The entire budget will come from sales tax coffers.
    And while Lancaster will have no administrative power over the tourism entities, Commissioner Rick Sowers said it would be Lancaster's job to help them work together.
    Lancaster will also help the area tourism groups — most of whom have received sales tax money — better spend their funding.
    "Part of the theory was to prevent duplicate requests," Sowers said. "If two different groups want to, say, print brochures, he would help them organize a request."
    Lancaster begins as tourism coordinator Monday.

Reach Mark Vierthaler at (620) 408-9908 or e-mail him at mark.vierthaler@dodgeglobe.com.