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Building on the Block: The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College

The Charge: 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. This vision honors the missions of both organizations while expanding innovative learning opportunities, arts programming, and cultural resources for the greater Colorado Springs community and the college. Our plan is guided by three themes: excellence, access, and collaboration.

What’s Happening: It’s been three months since the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College (FAC) strategic plan was approved and much progress has been made toward our vision of “Excellence, Access, and Collaboration.” In July two new staff members, Kris Stanec ’88, MAT ’89 and Polly Nordstrand, were added to the FAC’s museum department. “With these two new positions, the FAC will be able to offer rich and exciting programs for our community, and to deepen our commitment to the arts and cultures of the Southwest,” says FAC Museum Director Rebecca Tucker. Stanec, assistant chair of CC’s Department of Education and the first Mellon Grant Faculty Fellow for the museum, has been appointed director of museum education and will be responsible for the direction and management of the FAC museum’s public education programs. Stanec will collaborate with the museum staff to create innovative education programs developed around museum exhibitions which will enhance the experience for all visitors. A faculty member in CC’s Department of Education since 1999 and senior lecturer, Stanec is a professional member of the National Art Education Association (NAEA), the Colorado Art Education Association (CAEA), and the American Alliance of Museums (AAM).

Nordstrand (Hopi), has been appointed curator of Southwest Art. Nordstrand will develop exhibitions from the museum’s permanent collection, including the historic Taylor Collection, as well as bringing in special exhibitions of modern and contemporary art from the American Southwest. Her work will support the museum’s efforts to share the finest art from the Southwest region with the Colorado Springs community, and to build relationships with local, regional, and national artists, source cultures, and institutions. Nordstrand is a former Research Associate of Native American Art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Arts of Africa, Oceania and The Americas Department, and has an extensive background as a curator.

In August, the FAC announced reduced admission rates, expanded hours, and increased discounts in order to provide greater access for the Colorado Springs community. The efforts to increase access include a range of initiatives. Beginning Saturday, Sept. 1, visitors to the FAC have full access to all museum galleries at the following reduced rates of admission:

  • $10 for general public admission.
  • Seniors, active duty, and retired military personnel receive a 50 percent discount, meaning admission is $5.
  • Free admission currently offered to children 12 and under has been extended to include all students and teachers with valid ID from any school in the country.
  • Plus, the museum has added an additional Museum Free Day each month.

In addition to reducing admission rates and adding discounts and free days, the FAC is extending the museum’s evening hours in order to further extend the welcome to the galleries to the Colorado Springs community.

  • Tuesday through Saturday the FAC will open at 10 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. Sunday hours will remain 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • In order to offer evening hours, starting Sept. 11, the FAC museum will be closed to the public on Mondays for special touring programs and to install new museum exhibitions.

The initiatives for greater community access go beyond the museum. Additional Wednesday evening performances for mainstage productions are slated for the upcoming theatre season. Theatre-goers can enjoy award-winning, Broadway-worthy theatre for a flat ticket price of $20 per seat on these new Wednesday evening performances.

“These are just a few of many planned initiatives we’re instituting as part of Colorado College to provide the Colorado Springs community with greater access to the arts,” says FAC Director Erin Hannan.

Watch the video above to learn more about the CSFAC at CC strategic planning process

Even before the strategic plan was completed, numerous initiatives in the museum occurred partly due to a $1.2 million dollar grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Here are some highlights of activities from the first year of the grant.

  • Two student internships with focus on the Taylor Collection of Southwest Art
  • Initial efforts to make the museum a national leader in objects-based teaching and learning – build a faculty cohort, offered faculty workshops, discussions and sessions on material cultures and college curriculum
  • Southwest Alive! – Great performances: first offering in the series was 50 Shades of Red by Dawn Avery. This multimedia performance combined Classical and Contemporary Native American musical offerings with video and dance to lead the audience through a vibrant artistic exploration of Native experience.
  • Southwest Alive – Cultural Continuities: the first exhibit paralleled that of the Great Performances and included The Art of Storytelling, a two-part exhibition of works from the Museum’s permanent collection. Organized around concepts of storytelling, guest curator Karin Larkin, PhD, reinstalled the Museum’s two permanent collection galleries focused on Native American and Spanish Colonial art. Featuring highlights from the Museum’s deep holdings in both collection areas, the exhibition examines the multiple kinds of stories that individual objects can tell.