February 25, 2011

How to get the cultural word to the community

With a new arts calendar in place and Streetsmophere garnering national attention, BeetStreet is transforming the arts and culture terrain in Fort Collins.

Launched in November, the ArtBeetFC.com Culture Calendar offers a wide array of arts and cultural events in Fort Collins.

“For the new strategic plan in December 2009 we engaged in a research and discovery process,” explained Executive Directive Ryan Keiffer. “We talked to the arts community and asked what were the needs? And what we heard was that there is a need for a centralized arts calendar.”

An ambitious endeavor, the ArtBeetFC.com Culture Calendar allows a search by event title, date, or categories such as Theatre and Dance, Music, Visual Arts, and Kids and Family. The calendar features a wide array of events from performances at the soon-to-reopen Lincoln Center and Colorado State University to exhibitions at the Fort Collins Museum of Art, among many others.

It’s not only a site to find out what’s going on, but where users can buy tickets to events as well.

“Everyone sees the value of one site that people can go to for information and tickets,” Keiffer said. “And we want the site to make it seem simple to find what you want in three clicks or less.”

While the calendar fills the needs of the arts community, it dovetails with the economic goals of Fort Collins, cultivating and promoting arts and culture as an economic engine.

“BeetStreet is always pursuing different vehicles to promote arts and culture, to create a distinct voice and get information out,” Keiffer added. “We have to see ourselves as an arts and culture community for others to see us in this way. We want to offer quantity and quality, and we’re working from a model of concentric circles starting with Fort Collins and then moving out regionally and nationally.”

And BeetStreet’s programming is gaining national attention. In March, Keiffer and Project Director Beth Flowers will present “Not Your Father’s Arts Council: Innovative Ideas for Building Arts and Culture as an Economic Engine in the 21st Century,” and share Beet Street success stories of Streetmosphere, at the Nevada Arts Council Oasis Conference in Reno. Beginning in May, Streetmosphere will again transform downtown Fort Collins into an outdoor performing arts scene with musical acts, jugglers and magicians, acting troupes, comedians, dancers, storytellers and painters.

Keiffer points to economic benefit of auditioning and paying local talent. “This gives them exposure and leads to other gigs, but we’re also exposing people to art and culture in Fort Collins in passing,” he said. “There’s an unexpected aspect encountering these performers downtown, and we’ve received really positive feedback from the public.”

Bas Bleu/ DDA partnership success

In August 2009 Bas Bleu Theatre and the Downtown Development Authority forged a public/private partnership, signing a 10-year, $220,000 lease to open up the lobby and theater space in the historic Giddings Building to the general public. The collaboration was an investment strategy and part of a larger endeavor to help arts organizations during the economic downturn. The Bas Bleu lobby and stage area are available free of charge for use by other performance groups and for public meetings and events.

So how is it going?

“Really well,´ said Dulcie Willis, Bas Bleu’s interim general manager. “We’ve had a diversity of groups taking advantage of the space: opera, music concerts, filming session, private parties, middle school student workshops. Lots of different events.”

Willis attributes the success to the building’s flexibility of space. The theatre offers three options: partial use when a play set is on the stage, full use when the stage is empty, and lobby use.

“The lobby is perfect for meetings, receptions and art shows. It’s a pretty versatile space,” she said. “It’s also free. People save so much money, but it’s still a new concept and the word is still getting out.”

Information about theater rental is on the Bas Bleu and DDA websites.

Exhibition news

“Robert Benjamin: Notes from a Quiet Life,” on view now at The Denver Art Museum, is the first-ever solo museum exhibition for Fort Collins photographer Robert Benjamin. The exhibition features 40 color prints and Polaroids made between 1984 and 2003. Many of Benjamin’s portraits possess an informal and lyrical quality as well as an intensity of color.

As Benjamin noted via e-mail, “The process is the same as we all used to receive when we took our FILM to a OneHour lab – prints (called C prints for chromogenic) from negatives. I used all sorts of films from Kodak, Fuji, Konica. The look of the color is truly due to what I chose to photograph, the light that was there, and how I decided to print it. I didn’t own a flash, so the color and light combined in a ‘muddy’ color effect – not necessarily chromatically ‘correct’ but rather emotionally correct.”

The exhibition will be on view until April 17.

East/West: Visually Speaking, an exhibition at the Colorado State University Art Museum, features the work of 11 Chinese artists whose two- and three-dimensional pieces merge Eastern and Western visual languages. The works represent incursions of western culture synthesized with aspects of traditional Chinese art. A series of sculptures by Sun Ping re-envision Greco-Roman statuary embedded with acupuncture needles.

The show resonates thematically with Sure of Hand: Drawings from the 19th Century to the Renaissance in the small gallery. This exhibition explores a wide variety of drawing media and illustrates artistic genres ranging from mythological and biblical subject matter to portraits and landscapes.

East/West: Visually Speaking is on view until April 9, and Sure of Hand: Drawings from the 19th Century to the Renaissance until June 10.

Kiki Gilderhus, Ph.D., is head of Art History Liberal Studies at Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design in Denver and covers the arts for the Business Report. Contact her at news@ncbr.com.

With a new arts calendar in place and Streetsmophere garnering national attention, BeetStreet is transforming the arts and culture terrain in Fort Collins.

Launched in November, the ArtBeetFC.com Culture Calendar offers a wide array of arts and cultural events in Fort Collins.

“For the new strategic plan in December 2009 we engaged in a research and discovery process,” explained Executive Directive Ryan Keiffer. “We talked to the arts community and asked what were the needs? And what we heard was that there is a need for a centralized arts calendar.”

An ambitious endeavor, the ArtBeetFC.com Culture Calendar allows a search by event…

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