Started as the Broadmoor Art Academy in 1919, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is celebrating its 100th year in the community. To commemorate this occasion, we decided to chat with Amanda Weston, the Media Relations & Outreach Specialist and take a closer look at the work being done to bring together both the greater Colorado Springs community and Colorado College itself.
How did you end up getting involved with this position at the Fine Arts Center?
I moved to Colorado in 2014 and had been looking for communications jobs in the arts and entertainment industries. When this job listing posted on Andrew Hudson job list I excitedly applied for it.
What role do you think the FAC serves in the community? How can/do residents across the Colorado Springs area get involved with the work?
The Fine Arts Center has been a hub for arts and culture in the Colorado Springs community for 100 years. The FAC plays a critical role in providing innovative, educational, and multidisciplinary arts experiences that elevate the individual spirit and inspire community vitality. There are a number of ways residents can connect with the FAC. We offer Museum Free Days twice a month, students and teachers always receive free admission to the museum. We also offer free school tours and subsidized busing. We have a fourth grade passport to thearts program which provides fourth grade students and their families a free family membership to the museum, free theatre tickets, discounts on art classes and more. We have year-round art classes for ages two and up. We produce an annual season of theatre productions for kids and adults. We have theatre school classes for ages five to adult. We have artist lectures and talks, special events and so much more. I encourage community members to sign up for our emails to stay up-to-date with all of our events and happenings.
Could you describe the relationship between Colorado College and the Fine Arts Center?
The Fine Arts Center and Colorado College entered an historic alliance in 2017. For 100 years, the FAC and CC have been neighbors and collaborated in a variety of important ways. This includes the FAC serving as the college’s de facto art department in the 1920s–1940s, co-hosting an annual Conference on Fine Arts in the 1930s, collaborating on shared programming and exhibitions throughout the decades, and the recent gift in 2015 of the FAC’s extensive art publication archives to the Tutt Library at Colorado College. The Fine Arts Center is a valuable resource for students and faculty that furthers the educational mission of the college. Our aim is to create a national model of distinction for an arts center that joins with a college to serve the campus, the community, the region, and the world.
Are there any ways in which the FAC connects CC students with the rest of the Colorado Springs Community?
One example is our Student Guide program that is open to current Colorado College students across all disciplines and years. Their primary duty is to facilitate positive visitor experiences in the FAC museum. Guides do this in multiple ways: they are trained to facilitate dialogue about the exhibitions; they also carry interactive activities for visitors to utilize, such as art cards with questions, scavenger hunts and dice for visual analysis games. Guides understand the variety of tools available to guests that lead to deeper understanding, including gallery guides and interpretive materials, then direct visitors to utilize these tools. Many guides speak more than one language. Guides also conduct assessments of the exhibitions and educative materials, which then inform the museum about future design of exhibitions and interpretive tools.
How do you feel this establishment brings people together?
The arts in general bring people together, but what’s really fantastic about the FAC is that we have created programs that connect people not only to the art but each other. We are an arts institution that is dedicated to serving the community, the CC campus, and the region, and the world. No matter where you are from and what background you have, we offer programming and an environment of inclusiveness that makes everyone feel welcome and represented.
What do you recommend for CC students who haven’t necessarily engaged with the FAC but are interested in getting more involved?
All students are automatic members and can enjoy the benefits of being a member. We offer many “member-only” events like artist talks, preview celebrations, tours, and more. We also offer block-break art classes at Bemis for CC students, and CC students can receive a free rush ticket to all FAC produced theatre productions. There are so many was for students to engage with the FAC all year long.
Are there any goals on the horizon for the future of the FAC?
The future of the FAC is one of promise, potential and empowerment. The FAC lives well beyond the walls of its Dale Street location – it impacts the campus, the community, the region and the world. We are focused on creating unprecedented experiences that embody innovation and creativity unrivaled in the Rocky Mountain West.Our past has positioned us for a future that underscores depth, excellence and inclusion.
What upcoming events and exhibitions do you have that we should look forward to?
World of Wearable Art™ (WOW) is coming to the museum June 22-Sept 22 and we will open the exhibition with a theatrical fashion runway show on June 22. This exhibition is going to be spectacular. WOW is an international design competition that attracts hundreds of entries, with an annual awards show that presents the finalist garments in a theatrical extravaganza that collides at the intersection of fashion and art. The 32 award-winning garments presented in this exhibition represent some of the most original, provocative, and unorthodox objects in the WOW Museum collection, demonstrating what designers from a wide variety of occupations can imagine when they are released from the constraints of “fashion” and are encouraged to see the human body as a blank canvas. We also have a few upcoming theatre productions to keep an eye out for: Hands on a Hardbody opening March 28 is based on true events and the documentary of the same name. For 10 hard-luck Texans, a new lease on life is so close they can touch it. Under a scorching sun for days on end, armed with nothing but hope, humor, and ambition, they’ll fight to keep at least one hand on a brand-new truck in order to win it. Only one winner can drive away with the American dream. And Barnum will open May 23. Based on the life of showman P.T. Barnum, this spectacle takes you to a world like none you’ve ever seen before!
The Fine Arts Center is open from Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 AM – 7:30 PM and Sundays from 10 AM – 5 PM. To find out more, visit https://www.csfineartscenter.org/
Written by Susie Dummit