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The Art of Alliance

Creativity Gets a Boost from Collaboration

The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, as it is now known, has room for events that serve both entities.

The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College, as it is now known, has room for events that serve both entities.

There’s been a lot of confusion surrounding the recent alliance between the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center and Colorado College.

And although the alliance is somewhat complicated, the results are simple. It just means a better arts scene for Colorado Springs.

That’s the consensus among most of its proponents, including arts center director Erin Hannan and museum director Rebecca Tucker. 

“The FAC and the college have had nearly 100 years of successful collaboration,” Hannan says. “We just finally formalized it. The arts center has now become part of Colorado College.”

In fact, its new name is (take a deep breath), the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.

The transition is a four-year process, Tucker says.

Each part of the arts center will gradually implement the strategic plan– first the museum, then the Bemis School of Art, then the theater program. The transition will be complete by 2020.

This does not remove the arts center from the public sphere, they say. If anything, it brings the college into a closer relationship with the community. The arts center will operate under a 16-person advisory board – eight members nominated by each entity.

“This will not be some shocking shift” in the way things are done, Hannan says. “The general public won’t really notice anything different, except that the programs will be richer, better and coordinate more with what’s going on at the college.”

The arts center will tap into the college’s resources – using professors to write program notes for art exhibits, for example, or having the college music department create some accompaniment for a theatrical production. Students at CC are already taking some of their art classes at the arts center. The popular IDEA space at CC will be moving to the arts center, too. 

What it has done financially is give a boost to the arts center, which is always – like all non-profits – subject to the vagaries of the economy. The college has established an endowment so that the arts center has a solid fiscal foundation for the future.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t need community support,” Hannan says. “We still do.”

They still need members, donors, and engaged patrons. And they’ll still have to charge admission fees. 

“We just aren’t in danger of closing every time we have a recession!”

The move also provides a lot of small efficiencies that will let both entities operate at a lower cost – like sharing maintenance services or printing expenses, for example. 

The alliance, which copies similar ones throughout the nation between other colleges and museums, also sets them up to be privy to more grants. 

 “All this helps with our long-term sustainability,” Hannan says. 

And anyone who donates to the Fine Arts Center’s foundation will know that the money goes just to the FAC, not to the college. 

“It’s crucial that the public understands that the arts center still is a community organization,” Tucker says. 

She adds that more programming will be geared to community interests, so that new people will be enticed to come through its doors. Don’t be surprised to discover an event geared around hip-hop music or bluegrass. 

What the alliance enables the FAC to do is offer even higher quality exhibits and expand programming to reach out to more diverse elements of the community, they say. 

The FAC will work not only with the college’s art department, but also with the music, theater and dance departments, as well as history, political science and Southwest studies, among others.

“There are endless possibilities,” Tucker says. 

The alliance also may help combat the community perception that the college is isolated from it. Despite countless activities – from music to lectures to poetry readings – that are open free to the public, the elitist label tends to stick to the college, she says. “We want to get beyond that perception.”

She adds that the goal is to “have people see their own lives and interests reflected here at the museum.”

And, Hannan notes, the arts center provides jobs and revenue to the community through visitation and tourism.  

“It’s true,” she says. “If the arts are thriving, the community is thriving.” 

For more information: For a full schedule of fall offerings at the arts center, visit www.coloradocollege.edu/fac.

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