Thursday, December 31, 2009

Top 11 of 2009

Top ten lists are everywhere these days, so I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon. There is no way to list all the amazing creative events that took place in the past year. There were hundreds of concerts, plays, art openings, festivals and musical events that showcased the amazing talent in the Pikes Peak region. Here are the top eleven of oh-nine, that I believe had a strong impact on our community, in no particular order:
  • Stargazers Theater opened as a much-needed music venue in the old Colorado Music Hall building. Owners Cindy and John Hooten host blues, Americana and lots of other music, as well as offering space for community events like the Pikes Peak Arts Council Awards and Developmental Disabilities Awareness Day.
  • Poetry While You Wait, a project designed by first-ever Pikes Peak Poet Laureate Aaron Anstett, launched with books of poetry, table tents and posters with local poems in places you'd least expect it. More than 25 poems by local poets were on display, and an exhibit of poetry at the Fine Arts Center Modern also opened in April to celebrate National Poetry Month.

  • Dream City: Vision 2020 hosted visioning sessions across the community and had a specific focus on arts and culture as a means for envisioning a thriving community. The process engaged artists young and old in arts contests and made a special effort to educate people on our rich arts and cultural legacy. More than 300 people attended the Dream City summit in July, where an arts and culture vision statement was unveiled.

  • The Pikes Peak Arts Fest brought thousands of people to America the Beautiful park in downtown Colorado Springs to see art and performances. Despite taking place during a hundred-year flood, tourists and locals alike flocked to the park for the cultural experience, opening their pocketbooks to purchase art by the carloads.

  • The ModBo opened its doors in summer. This funky gallery space (its name is a hybrid of the words "modern" and "bohemian," in case you were wondering), in concert with neighbor gallery Rubbish, has breathed new life into the dark alley we like to call the "Alley Arts District." Owners Lauren Ciborowski and Brett Andrus hold monthly art openings, open-mic poetry, live bands, and classical music salons.

  • The Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association kicked off its 30th anniversary season in Fall 2009. Educating young musicians since 1979, the CSYSA continues its tradition of presenting excellent training and also acting as musical ambassadors for the Pikes Peak region. Conductor and co-founder Gary Nicholson will take the Youth Symphony to perform at the Sydney Opera House in Australia and the Wind Symphony will perform at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center in 2010.

  • The Meadowgrass Music Festival launched this summer with two days of music, food and brewskis at the beautiful La Foret grounds in Black Forest. Despite intense rain and cold temperatures, music lovers shivered under ponchos, enjoying the dulcet tones of local musicians like Edith Makes a Paperchain and John Alex Mason alongside national acts like Magnolia Electric Company and Sarah Borges and the Broken Singles. When the sun did come out, the crowd celebrated. We hope this becomes an annual tradition that requires sunscreen in the future.

  • The Colorado College Summer Music Festival celebrated its 25th anniversary. This festival has a devoted following and brings the finest in chamber music and orchestra to the Pikes Peak region. This year, the orchestra commissioned a piece by Patrick Zimmerli, which was inspired by the architecture of the Cornerstone Arts Center. The performance of that piece included video projection of the building and an exhibit at the I.D.E.A. Space, and the evening was an exemplary model of the interdisciniplanary programs the Cornerstone was designed to inspire.

  • The Colorado Springs Philharmonic launched their new Vanguard series, a concert series featuring 20th century composers as well as past masters, in order to expose Pikes Peak region audiences to contemporary work. This series was a bold move for an orchestra in this economy, as was Executive Director Nathan Newbrough's decision to slash ticket prices for new subscribers. The risk paid off--audiences are responding to the new energy, and subscriptions are up for the orchestra: good news in this uncertain economy.

  • The Cottonwood Center for the Arts opened triumphantly in May, with thousands of visitors streaming through the doors during opening weekend. Cottonwood's new home features two huge galleries, teaching classrooms, a kiln yard and ceramic studio, and more than 65 individual artists' studios. It is a bustling hub of creativity in downtown Colorado Springs, and their last Friday openings are packed.

  • And if I may say so, I do believe that COPPeR has made a real difference in 2009 through our work connecting people to fantastic opportunities like the ones above. Just a smattering of our accomplishments in 2009: we published the second edition of The COPPeR Pages, our free guidebook to all the arts and cultural organizations in El Paso and Teller counties, the traffic at our calendar website PeakRadar.com grew 50% from 2008, we collaborated with the Chamber to host a successful 2nd annual Business and Arts Luncheon, we hosted a number of bootcamps designed to help arts organizations survive the recession, we continued to support local music by co-sponsoring the lively Showcase at Studio Bee concerts at the Pikes Peak Center, continuing our research to complete a cultural plan for the region. And of course, there is the ongoing, essential work we do every day to advocate for the value of the arts as essential to our communities--from the economy to education, from helping seniors to youth education, from public policy to neighborhoods. If you feel the work we are doing is making a difference, please consider making a tax-deductible gift to COPPeR by clicking here. Thank you!
What were some of the most meaningful arts experiences that really had an impact on the community in 2009? Please feel free to share in the comments below. As I said earlier, there is no way to list them all. I will lift a glass tonight to celebrate all the accomplishments of the past year and I eagerly look forward to seeing what 2010 will bring!

1 comment:

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