Changes at DPAC
Written by Kimberly MacArthur Graham on July 24, 2014
I love the arts, all of them – visual, performing, culinary, fashion, design — and I derive satisfaction from supporting them. The arts are, at once, the most basic and most sublime form of human expression. To me, they are the measure of our humanity and the currency of our connection to one another.
Since they occupy a central place in my life, it saddens me that arts organizations (and artists) are generally not financially rich. They contribute so much to the lives of so many, and yet they can hardly make ends meet at times, a result of multiple factors including lack of art education overall (to build audiences), lack of business training in art schools, and demographic shifts.
The arts organizations that continue to thrive are those working hardest to remain relevant. They understand people, popular culture and values, and new tools and technologies. They understand that audiences are built by giving people a reason to visit the first time; making them feel comfortable once they’ve arrived; then giving them a reason to come back, and to bring friends.
Our office is near the Denver Performing Arts Complex, and I often detour to walk through the outdoor galleria. It’s really a lovely space, as is the entire Complex, but it’s so often empty. I have thought many times that more people should be enjoying it. Apparently, the Complex’s “landlord,” Denver Arts & Venues, has that same thought.
A recent article in the Denver Post outlines some big changes for the DPAC’s three major tenants: Colorado Ballet, Colorado Symphony Orchestra, and Opera Colorado (Denver Center Theatre manages its own venues). The changes range from creating a shared box office that will reduce both overhead costs and patron confusion; creating an outdoor amphitheater in the existing sculpture park; inviting other users into the galleria with fairs, art shows, cafés, and the like.
All of these recognize that art, no matter how brilliant, must be supported by sound business practices.
If you’ve read some of my previous posts, you know I believe that business also needs the arts. Including the arts in a work environment and as part of company culture heightens employee engagement, creativity, respect for diversity, and problem-solving.
It’s heartening to see the arts embracing a return of the favor.