Although the cultural planning process was gearing up to begin in April 2020, a collective decision was made to postpone all cultural planning activities due to the coronavirus crisis. Community partners and the lead consultants will continue to meet virtually during the unfolding situation, and will announce a new timeline once the creative sector emerges from the current crisis and regains stability.
At that time, our community will undertake its second cultural planning process to produce the 2020-2030 Cultural Plan for the Pikes Peak Region, titled “Arts Vision 2030.” The Plan will be developed through an open, inclusive process, and the Plan will be implemented in the same spirit. It is a Plan by and for the community, and as such is owned by the community. No one organization is responsible for its implementation. However, the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region and the Bee Vradenburg Foundation will serve as stewards of the Plan on behalf of the local creative sector.
The Pikes Peak region spans El Paso and Teller counties of Colorado, surrounding Pikes Peak and including the expansive City of Colorado Springs, historic mountain towns, and peaceful rural communities. This remarkable setting has attracted generations of artists, so arts and culture have played an influential role in the region from the very beginning. Indigenous cultures have lived in this area for 5,000 years, leaving behind petroglyphs, Ute prayer tress, and other signs of historic creativity. The first permanent settlement was established in what is now Old Colorado City in 1859. Colorado Springs was established in 1871 to take advantage of the extraordinary scenic beauty of its surroundings to develop a “Little London” in the American West, and the mountain towns of Teller County followed in the 1890s. Now, the Pikes Peak region is home to over 700,000 people and rapidly growing. Over 400 arts and cultural groups and organizations now enliven the Pikes Peak region, and a 2017 study with Americans for the Arts defined the economic impact of the nonprofit creative sector as $153.3 million.
For much of the region’s history, artistic practice hummed in pockets of vibrancy, supported by volunteer-led organizations. The creative sector’s regional, collective identity began galvanizing over the past 17 years. In 2001, the Bee Vradenburg Foundation became the first local foundation dedicated to investing in the relevance, resilience and greatness of the arts, directly addressing the critical issue of underfunding and limited capacity in the creative sector. When the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region was founded in 2006, Colorado Springs was the largest city in the United States without a professionally-staffed local arts agency. The founding of the Cultural Office, in fact, resulted from the community’s first discussions about a cultural plan. Since that time, efforts by these organizations and many others have ushered in a new era of cooperation, collaboration, and vision for shared impact within the creative community. Particularly galvanizing initiatives have included the 2010-2020 Cultural Plan, wide-ranging, inclusive programs like First Friday Art Walks and Arts Month each October, cooperative promotional efforts like PeakRadar.com, and the emergence of two state-certified Creative Districts.
As the next decade approaches, the current creative community is poised for another effort to align a vision for its place on the rapidly growing Front Range. In the story of the Pikes Peak region’s arts community, the process of creating the next Cultural Plan together is a powerful next step. Its structure will guide and support the trajectory of our next decade of growth and influence.
Funding & Management
The cultural planning effort will be stewarded by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, which will serve as the fiscal conduit for all funding and expenses, and the administrative lead. The Cultural Office’s Executive Director, Andy Vick, and the Executive Director of Bee Vradenburg Foundation, David Siegel, serve as co-chairs of a volunteer Cultural Plan Steering Committee of creative leaders formed in October 2018. Eventually, focus group meetings, one-on-one interviews, online surveys, and community engagement efforts during the planning process will include artists, leaders of arts organizations and groups, for-profit creative businesses, arts patrons and donors, community partners and cross-sector peers, and many more. The Cultural Office’s Deputy Director, Angela Seals, serves as the project’s coordinator in support of professional cultural planning consultants, There Squared LLC.
Funding to support the cultural planning process has been assembled from a combination of entities, including the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, Bee Vradenburg Foundation, El Paso County, and the National Endowment for the Arts. Additional funding is still being pursued.
Questions can be directed to info@CulturalOffice.org.