Arts for Colorado December E-Newsletter

Creede Repertory Theatre Receives NEA Challenge America Fast-Track Grant

As National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Rocco Landesman has noted, “Art works everywhere,” which is why the NEA’s Challenge America Fast-Track (CAFT) program supports projects from primarily small and mid-sized arts organizations that extend the reach of the arts to underserved audiences–those whose opportunities to experience the arts are limited by geography, ethnicity, economics, or disability. Creede Repertory Theatre was selected to receive one of the 162 grants of $10,000 awarded to organizations in 46 states, plus the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

This NEA award will support Creede Repertory Theatre’s 2012 Young Audience Outreach Tour, which will bring much-needed performing arts experiences to tens of thousands of children in rural and underserved schools throughout Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, and Oklahoma.

“Taken together, these Challenge America Fast-Track grants provide an extraordinary sampling of the work that arts organizations do to reach underserved communities,” said Chairman Landesman. “With these grants, we are helping to ensure that art works for all Americans.”

Creede Repertory Theatre’s Education Director, Renee Stynchula shared, “In 2011, the Challenge America award helped us reach over 19,000 children! NEA support not only helps us serve children in rural and underserved areas, it is also a “stamp of excellence” which helps us leverage more funds from other sources.”

The program is called Fast-Track because of its expedited review timeline. Creede Repertory Theatre was notified approximately six months after applying. Also, with 375 eligible applications submitted from across the country, there was significant competition for funding for these grants. Creede Repertory Theatre’s grant award is evidence of the artistic excellence and artistic merit of the Young Audience Outreach Tour.

Letter from the Chair
Pam Foster, AFC Chair

Arts for Colorado/Colorado Citizens for Culture held their annual Retreat in September 2011 at the Newman Center for the Performing Arts on the Denver University Campus. We extend our gratitude to Stephen Seifert and Denver University for the use of the well appointed Wolf Conference Room.

During the retreat, AFC/CCC board members determined that at the present time, it would not be feasible for AFC/CCC to become part of the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (CBCA). AFC/CCC will continue to move forward as an independent arts and cultural advocacy membership organization.

We would like to welcome our newly elected board members: Dr. Kerry Hart, President, Morgan Community College, and Director of the Morgan Community College Jazz Ensemble; Julie Worley, former Director of Economic Development for the City of Rocky Ford, and Director of the Business and Arts Incubator and Entrepreneurship Center in partnership with Otero Junior College; and Erin Farrell, M.F.A., recent Director of Development, Arts and Sciences, Washington University, St. Louis, MO. These three new board members bring an expanded expertise in many diverse fields, including perspectives from various locations throughout the state. We thank them for their willingness to join this highly motivated and accomplished group of Colorado citizens advocating for the arts.

One of the focus issues for AFC/CCC in 2012 will be reaching out to the many rural communities in Colorado to promote and facilitate networking with all artisans throughout Colorado’s metro and rural areas. Clark Strickland, AFC Vice-President, is leading this charge to spread the word about AFC/CCC, what we stand for, how we accomplish our mission, and the ways we are involved in advocating for the arts.

AFC will once again be contracting with Brandeberry-McKenna for lobbying efforts during the 2012 Colorado Legislative Session. Jennifer Mello, of BBK, has done an excellent job for us in years past, and we look forward to working with her again.

AFC/CCC is a member organization and we invite you to join us as an individual, business, or nonprofit organization. If you join before the end of 2011, dues are $35.00 each for either AFC or CCC, or $150.00 for an organization, business or nonprofit. Rates may increase after the first of the year, so please consider becoming a member today. If you love the arts, you need us, and we need you too!

Best wishes for a healthy, art-filled, and culturally enhanced 2012!

Morgan Community College: Enriching the Arts in Northeast Colorado

Dr. Kerry Hart is one of AFC/CCC’s newest board members
Jane Fries, Assistant to the President–Morgan Community College
Morgan Community College (MCC), with five Centers of operation spanning 11,500 miles in the plains of northeast Colorado, is home to over 50 academic programs. The college, named one of America’s Top Fifty Community Colleges by Washington Monthly magazine in 2010, is known for its quality programs in areas like nursing, automotive technology, and workplace literacy. Within the past year, however, MCC is becoming known for something new: developing an initiative to support the arts and community enrichment.
MCC President Kerry Hart, who arrived at the college in 2008 with decades of experience in music education, sensed a hunger in the community for additional arts activities. That’s when his wheels began to turn about how Morgan Community College could help, despite ongoing slashes in state funding. The concept of an MCC Center for Arts and Community Enrichment–one that would rely primarily on private funding and community partnerships–was born. The goal of the Center would be to collaborate with existing arts organizations and businesses to bring in high-quality guest artists and speakers to enhance and showcase local artists and create innovative arts education experiences.
The first step in pursing the concept was to test the waters with key stakeholders, starting with college staff. Once internal buy-in was achieved, the next step was to send out an early-morning breakfast meeting invitation to community members who had a connection to the arts. “I remember sitting at the restaurant, wondering if anyone would show up,” Hart recalls. But show up they did–about 40 strong, and the resulting synergy clearly affirmed the community’s support.
A year later, the Center for Arts and Community Enrichment (CACE) has become a vibrant reality. An official CACE office exists in a historic building on Main Street in Fort Morgan. A Steering Committee is in place to provide overall direction, with the MCC Foundation serving as the fiscal agent. Three subcommittees (Performing Arts, Visual Arts, and Arts in Education) are focusing on programming. All told, 35 members of the community are enthusiastically serving on CACE committees alongside college leadership.
In its inaugural year, CACE has already delivered several highly successful events, underwritten by private donations, grants and businesses. The activities have been diverse, including a pipe organ concert, a USAF Falconaires big band concert (with educational clinics for local school groups), guest author/speaker Tom Westfall, and two exhibits at the new CACE Gallery of Fine Art. Many more activities are in the works, including partnering with a local bank to facilitate an “Excellence in Business” speaker series.
MCC’s long-term dream is to develop a brick-and-mortar performing arts center to provide much-needed venue space. Kerry Hart is quick to point out that such a facility would be available for community groups, not just the college. “After all,” he notes, “collaboration is at the heart of CACE. We are bringing together all of the arts organizations in the area into one cohesive cause to optimize our resources–with a result of the sum being greater than its parts.”

Colorado Legislative Update
by Jennifer Mello, AFC lobbyist

The 2012 Legislative Session will begin on January 11. From that date, legislators have 120 days to introduce, debate and pass legislation and to adopt a state budget for 2012/2013.
Sessions during an election year are always more partisan. A handful of factors are likely to increase the level of partisanship in 2012 including divided control–Democrats control the Senate and Republicans control the House–and the fact that Republicans control the House by just one vote. Additionally, as required by the Constitution every 10 years, legislative district lines have just been redrawn. Always a controversial process, the work of the 2011 Commission will be remembered for the number of times the maps had to be redrawn, the challenges confronted in keeping cities and counties whole while at the same time protecting communities of interest as required by Federal law, and the number of incumbent legislators whose districts changed radically – in some cases so much so that more than one incumbent was drawn into the same district.
Given this contentious setting, the 2012 Legislative Session will probably produce fewer new laws that is typical. We anticipate major debate around Pinnacol Insurance, the Senior Homestead Exemption and how to protect K-12 and higher education from ever increasing budget cuts. Brandeberry~McKenna Public Affairs will work hard to protect existing funding for the Creative Industries Division and to ensure that any legislation which is harmful to the arts and creative communities is quickly squashed.
As an advocate for the arts, the best thing you can do is develop a relationship with your local legislators. Make sure you know who they are, they know who you are and they know that you care about arts and the creative economy. If you are not sure who your legislators are visit or