Idris Goodwin, who previously taught for six years in the Department of Theatre and Dance at CC, returned to become director of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College in May of 2020. Because of his focus on using the arts to build more equitable, inclusive and inspirational spaces for everyone, the CCE staff was thrilled to reach out and get his thoughts on the intersection between community engagement and the fine arts!
Q: Most people don’t necessarily think about inclusion or community engagement when they think of art, particularly the fine arts. How do you see the interaction between community engagement and art?
A: “Some of it has to do with the with the culture created around the presentation, preservation and financing of the work. Museums can be seen as these large, intimidating, white-walled palaces where folks can’t make noise, can’t take pictures and can’t touch anything. Now obviously we want to keep the objects safe but if there is no demand, hunger, curiosity, or interest in those objects then what are we doing? If the community doesn’t feel comfortable, welcomed and connected to our building and with our objects, what’s our purpose?
“The FAC at its best has been able build and sustain bridges between our building and the world outside. This is where creative and intentional learning and engagement come into play in our programming, and we’re able to take full advantage of our interdisciplinary nature. Arts education through the FAC’s Bemis School of Art and the FAC Theatre School both invite and provide opportunities for all to explore their own artistic voice. Beyond the classroom, we nurture a community of artists by offering spaces of inclusion, collaboration, and inspiration on our stages, in the galleries, and more recently in community conversations happening online.
“The word vitality is in our mission and that’s a key– fomenting a demand and hunger for art as a lifestyle, a culture – not just a collection of objects.”
Q: Why do you think access to the arts is so important for all people?
A: “Our art is our story. And we have to know our story, or else, who are we? So it’s a form of history keeping and sharing. Moreover, the arts can be the galvanizing tool to bring different walks together in the same space and spark necessary conversations. I think the area where most arts organizations need to improve is ensuring that we have a wide range of opportunities for people to see themselves somehow reflected in what they’re experiencing. We can’t presume to know everything about everyone; it’s crucial that we seek to represent diversity in all the ways humanity presents it.”
Q: How will the incorporation of the Fine Arts Center by CC benefit the diverse communities in Colorado Springs? How would you like to see CC students become a part of that experience?
A: “This union is why I came back. I believe the marriage of these two entities is a unique and powerful beginning to a new chapter.
“The students, faculty and staff of CC will be key players in writing that chapter. It’s about being in conversation, a regular transference of ideas and needs. The diversity of each individual contributor bringing value to our work and the programming we build for the broader community. It’s our goal that every single student, faculty member and staff have at least one transformative experience with the FAC every year. Though obviously we think we can provide more than that.”
Q: Particularly regarding the engagement with all local communities, where would you like to see the Fine Arts Center in 5 years? 10 years?
A: “In the near term, 2021, we intend to bust out of the COVID confines and bring arts experiences outside—socially distanced and safe of course through an initiative we’re calling City As A Venue, designed to fill the existing stages and platforms in our city. Exciting stuff, more on this soon. In addition to this, we’ll continue to grow the digital programs and interactions introduced through 2020 to supplement these in-person experiences and further our efforts in reaching new audiences, creating access and experimenting with our creative output.
“By seizing on these opportunities to evolve the way we present the arts, I truly believe the Fine Arts Center can be a unique and innovative institution that truly reflects the college, the region and the world in the years to come.”
We’d like to thank Idris for his participation and on-going efforts to transform the role of the FAC and the arts. You can read more about him here!