Life on the Summit: Hey, Spike! interviews Breck’s first arts CEO
Ryan Summerlin March 21, 2014
The Summit — one of our country’s busiest recreational resorts, winter and summer — is always welcoming new faces and personalities.
If you want to just move here to get away, we understand.
If your desire in relocating is to be an integral, active participant in small-town life, we’re glad to have you here.
Breckenridge residents Robb and Amy Woulfe are choosing the latter.
Welcome to the Kingdom, you two.
The Woulfes moved here in January from Ann Arbor, Mich., for Robb to take the role as chief executive officer for the municipality’s planned Cultural Arts District.
“The Ann Arbor Summer Festival is an annual three-week celebration of arts, culture and community. Since 2004 Woulfe has worked to expand the festival’s scale and influence, helping it become a leading multi-arts festival … In those nine years, he produced some of the most successful and highest-grossing seasons in the festival’s 30-year history,” wrote Summit Daily News ace Kelsey Fowler back in November when Robb’s hiring was announced.
Spike! met Robb in February at his office, located in the Riverwalk Center.
An interesting, personable guy, 47-year-old Robb agreed to be the subject of a column after formulating some thoughts on being here. What follows are excerpts from that conversation.
Spike! — Being the new guy, in a new job, in a new organization and the leader to boot, are you getting your arms around the situation?
Robb — “Yes, slowly but surely things are starting to come together. I’ve been spending a lot of time meeting with and listening to folks in the cultural community and trying to better understand both the opportunities and constraints in this market. It’s definitely a unique challenge as we look to convey the authenticity, relevance and differentiation of the cultural experience in Breckenridge as well as to establish this town as a niche destination for cultural tourism in a very competitive regional arts market. We definitely have a lot of work ahead of us, but it’s an exciting opportunity.”
Spike! — Is everything as expected?
Robb — “So far, so good. I know people in the community are anxious to know how this new umbrella organization will work, and to be honest, we’re still figuring out the best model. The short answer on our scope is that my division will manage and operate a portfolio of town-owned cultural facilities, while we will also encourage and present diverse programs within our campus of unique and historic venues. From quality performing and visual arts to the development of one of the region’s newest creative arts districts, we hope to be a transformative force for Breckenridge and the greater Summit County community.”
Spike! — Any surprises — good and bad?
Robb — “No real surprises, except when I spot an occasional fox outside my window.”
Spike! — How’s the staff support?
Robb — “The town has a great staff and everyone has been incredibly helpful in getting me situated and making my family feel welcomed. My team here at the Riverwalk Center and Arts District is fantastic — and extremely patient (big thanks to Kim Dykstra-DiLallo, Heather Pease, Jenn Cram and Leah Arnold).”
Spike! — Anything in the way of “new things/approaches” lined up that can be shared?
Robb — “Lots of new things coming for sure. Right now, though, my primary focus is on the organizational and operational infrastructure for the new nonprofit, which we plan to launch in early 2015. In the meantime, we are busy prepping for the fall opening of the expanded Arts District along with managing a number of other capital improvement projects that promise to elevate the town’s cultural offerings. Plus, we have a very busy summer schedule coming together with all kinds of events and performances, so we’re trying to stay on top of all of those logistics.
“In terms of approach, we’re definitely working to craft a story here that is inclusive of the area’s greater creative community (artists, entrepreneurs, designers, craftspeople, etc.) and their relationship to and impact on the town’s social and cultural persona. This will be critical to our success. We’ll also be working to communicate that the cultural experience here is highly participatory, interactive, and exploratory, which I believe is something that will set Breckenridge apart from its competition.”
Spike! — Are you taking time to be enjoying a new community?
Robb — “Absolutely. My wife and I have been trying to get out as much as possible to enjoy all the great amenities this community offers. In particular, we’ve been on a weekend quest to discover the best breakfast joints in Summit County, and so far we’ve found a lot of strong contenders. Oh, and our dog, Jack Kennedy, has been loving the Carter Dog Park and making lots of new furry friends.”
Spike! — Are you living in Breck; purchased a home?
Robb — “We are still in temporary housing for the time being, although we just started to look for something more permanent.”
Spike! — What is wife Amy doing?
Robb — “Well, since I’ve been spending so much time at the office these past few months, Amy has really taken the lead in getting our family (me, Amy plus two cats and one 100-pound golden retriever) unpacked and settled in. When not doing her weekly Target runs to Silverthorne, she’s also been having fun taking cooking classes at CMC and trying to master the art of baking and cooking at high altitudes.”
Spike! — A comment on the weather differences between Breckenridge at 9,600 feet above sea level and Ann Arbor at near zero?
Robb — “Let’s just say I’m happy to not have been in the polar vortex of the Midwest. I think my move from Michigan was perfectly timed, especially since the 2013-14 winter has been the snowiest in Ann Arbor’s history. It felt great to change our license plates to Colorado.”
Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former Climax miner, graduate of Adams State College, and a local since 1982. An award-winning investigative reporter, he and wife Mary E. Staby owned newspapers here for 20 years. Email your social info to firstname.lastname@example.org
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