A Boulder Way to Cultivate Art and Culture

January 31st, 2016

Moon rises over BIFF at Boulder Theater. Image credit: Randy Malone

Moon rises over BIFF at Boulder Theater.
Image credit: Randy Malone

By Maya Gurarie

A thriving arts and cultural sector increases the vibrancy of the whole community. This has a knock-on impact of making the city a desirable place to live as well as developing, attracting and retaining talented professionals. The Boulder Chamber, the City of Boulder and the business community have a stake in making that happen.

“We want to address the creative economy, and the Boulder Chamber will be an ally to make that successful. The creative, for profit and nonprofit sectors overlap, so it’s nuanced. The community asked us to make the cultural district strong and to project the cultural identity out to the world—the business leaders are critical to that,” says Matt Chasansky, Manager of the Office of Arts & Culture for the City of Boulder.

Increased Investment in the Arts

Recently the Boulder City Council approved the Community Cultural Plan, which recommends a four-fold spending increase on the arts in Boulder over the next nine years. The general fund provides about $500,000 for the arts budget of which roughly $225,000 is distributed as grants to arts and culture nonprofits. The plan calls for doubling the grants budget in 2016 and increasing the city’s arts and culture budget to $2 million by 2024. While this increase may still leave Boulder arts spending below that of peer cities identified in the plan, it still represents a substantial investment in the arts.

In the City of Boulder, the Boulder Chamber was a strong supporter of the Community, Culture and Safety Tax, which is a 0.3 percent sales tax from 2014 to 2016. It is providing $27.6 million for various projects including $8.4 million for arts and culture related investments. Supporters of the cultural plan are beginning to advocate for a new tax for the arts on the 2017 ballot when the 2014 tax expires.

The cultural plan identifies eight strategies to make creativity essential to the social fabric of Boulder. The Boulder Chamber’s top priorities from that plan are building support for arts and culture from the business community and helping businesses of all kinds build meaningful partnerships.

Dynamic Business Connections with Film Festivals and Theater Productions

Every year the Boulder International Film Festival comes into town with a range of fresh films, music and events. Sponsors and volunteers are a huge part of the festival’s offerings. Slated for March 3-6, the festival kicks off with an opening night gala. The Hotel Boulderado hosts one party while Rembrandt Yard Art Gallery hosts another one, with a total of 850 people attending. After the galas, they all meet at the Boulder Theater to watch the first film.

“We’re thrilled with the amount of support we receive from the local business community. Without the support they give us, it wouldn’t be possible to do the festival at the level we’re able to do it,” says Executive Producer of the Boulder International Film Festival Kevin Smith.

Food and beverage donations include Big Red F, Frances Ford Coppola Winery, Avery Brewing Company and Boulder Beer. Reinke Brothers and Monster Makeup FX donate the makeup, costumes, prosthetics and volunteer time to dress a cosplay character, which can take up to 8 hours for each costume.

“It’s incumbent upon us to put ourselves in front of more businesses and find ways that we can have a mutually beneficial relationship. When Rembrandt Yard gives us their space for the night, they’re showing people the space, but they’re also showing the Boulder community that they want to support local art culture. That’s not just a business investment; it’s an investment in the community,” says Smith.

The partnership between the film festival and the Boulder Chamber connects businesses and volunteers in a unique way with this cultural event. Chamber connections also help facilitate other arts performances by providing a temporary venue while the Dairy Arts Center undergoes renovation.

The Boulder Chamber will be partnering with the acclaimed Boulder Ensemble Theater Company when the regional premier of an award-winning play, “Ideation”, opens on February 26. The play will be the first theater production at the Boulder Chamber Center, located at 2440 Pearl Street.

The Creative Economy in Boulder

The business community has a stake in having a thriving arts and cultural sector.   Creative professionals make up almost 9 percent of Boulder’s workforce and every dollar invested in arts and culture has a multiplier effect on the local economy.

Investment in the arts also has ripple effects throughout the community—greater cross-cultural awareness and understanding, better educational outcomes for K-12 students, increased civic engagement; and creating a more welcoming sense of place.  More cultural offerings make it possible to attract and retain the talent needed to drive Boulder’s creative economy.

“Artists and professionals of all stripes are drawn to Boulder’s natural beauty and physical amenities. You also need to have something that connects people to the community in a larger way and in an authentic way. Arts and culture are key to this,” says Boulder Chamber Arts Liaison Deborah Malden.

How to Get Involved

The Boulder Chamber is seeking input on building engagement between the arts and business communities. Please share you ideas and join the conversation by contacting our Arts Liaison, Deborah Malden, at deborah.malden@boulderchamber.com.

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