Mar 032011
Authors: Chadwick Bowman

Living and loving Old Town, I was proud to hear our city was given the 2011 Governor’s Art Award declaring it the most artistic town in the state.

The people downtown work hard everyday to make the area a more beautiful and different place every time we visit. The fact that their efforts are recognized is important for the continuation of that good work.

The award is presented by the governor to a “Colorado town or city for their collective efforts to enhance the vitality of their community through the arts.”

The panel that picks the winning town is comprised of members from the Office of Economic Development, Colorado Creative Industries and International Trade.

And I believe “collective efforts” distinguished Fort Collins from others.

Fort Collins community members and organizations continually display a dedication to the arts. The city was recognized for its established, embedded cultural values and committed local artists.

Programs such as Beet Street, the Bohemian Foundation and Art Lab, as well as the various galleries, music venues and dance studios make our town a no-brainer for this award.

Ryan Keiffer, the executive director of Beet Street –– a program that promotes art in Fort Collins ­­–– said that the organization acts as an “incubator” to help the art scene thrive.

Beet Street puts on events across town like “Culture Cafes,” where experts meet with the public over dinner and drinks, and “Streetmosphere,” which opens up the city as a live performance studio.

Beet Street also works with CSU College of Business to help develop business models for artists looking to add marketing skills to their creativity.

Community members can also participate in a free, self-guided tour of the galleries in Old Town on the first Friday of every month, called the “Gallery Walk.”

Other programs such as Art Lab are just as creative and use empty storefronts to allow community members to come through and display their various forms of art. The space can double as an art gallery and a concert hall, and can triple and quadruple as a dance studio and creative workspace, respectively.

It is this intuitive thinking that separates Fort Collins from other communities.

Fort Collins Mayor Doug Hutchinson and City Manager Darin Atteberry were among other community leaders who accepted the award last Tuesday at the Denver Art Museum.

Newly-elected Gov. John Hickenlooper congratulated at the museum our Fort Collins leaders, who were grateful for the ambitious FoCo residents and their dedication.

Fourteen other communities were in the running, and the mountain town of Breckenridge earned runner-up.

Back in Fort Collins, at that night’s City Council meeting at City Hall, Mayor Hutchinson was beaming about the honor. He said that not only is the city playing a great role, but acting as a catalyst for the artistic community.

“I was extremely proud,” Hutchinson said. “This is truly a great day for Fort Collins.”

Past winners include Telluride and Creed (which tied), Loveland and Grand Junction.

A beautiful oil painting of Old Town Square painted by Denver local James Becknell will hang in the state’s capitol building and was displayed at the City Hall meeting Tuesday.

“Fort Collins won this award thanks in part to our talented arts community,” Keiffer said. “Beet Street is here to help continue this momentum by improving the arts and culture industry through cultural programming, economic development and facilities.”
Editorial Editor Chadwick Bowman is a senior journalism and sociology major. Letters and feedback can be sent to

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