Hey, Spike! learns Mountain Art Festivals earn Sunshine Artist rankings | SummitDaily.com

Hey, Spike! learns Mountain Art Festivals earn Sunshine Artist rankings

Mountain Art Festivals attendees enjoying art in the sunshine.
Dick Cunningham / Special to the Daily |

The art show business is like the ski biz — it’s all about numbers: skier days, season passes, snowfalls and those annual popularity rankings.

The art show world bases its successful events on visitors, sales and reports from artists. Other in-common factors are the venues and the weather.

On The Summit — home to Vail Resort’s Breckenridge and Keystone ski resorts, straddled by Copper Mountain Resort and Arapahoe Basin Ski Area — these winter and summer attractions always rank well in the skiing and riding magazines. Locals and visitors watch their numbers.

The same holds true for local art shows.

The big three nationally-ranked summer art shows belong to Mountain Art Festivals, produced by the father and daughter team of Dick and Tina Cunningham, which they host in the Kingdom of Breckenridge — and have for decades.

While their fine art shows have always drawn accolades from art lovers, artists and art magazines, 2016 marked the first time the whole trio has ranked in Sunshine Artist magazine’s top “200 Best” nationally.

The results by the widely read monthly magazine voting show this:

#60: 33rd annual Breckenridge July Art Festival

#64: 41st annual Gathering at the Great Divide Art Festival

#65: 15th annual Breckenridge Main Street Art Festival

“We truly appreciate our artists and art lovers who put ever more spark in our wonderful Colorado mountain town,” said the Cunninghams of the just-released rankings.

At each of these shows are fine-art painters, sculptors, potters, photographers, fiber weavers, jewelers and metalsmiths who have had their works selected by a jurying process. They come from across the United States and foreign countries, numbering at least 100 each time, pitching their white-topped display booth tents, renting condos and dining in the Victorian mining town.

“Any placement on the 200 Best is truly a remarkable achievement, considering how many shows there are all across the nation each year,” emphasizes Sunshine Artist editor Stephanie Hintz, whose glossy publication touts itself as “America’s Premier Fine Art and Craft Show Magazine.”

The results in the September issue of Sunshine Artist marked the 24th annual voting by its subscribers and readers, who ranked the 29th annual Downtown Naples Festival of the Arts as the top show, with the next five also located in Florida.

The Cunninghams are proud of their shows’ rankings by Sunshine Artist.

“The amount of quality people who come to town specifically for our art festivals — some of the longest running events in Breckenridge and Summit County — to visit with talented artists, buy their works, locals included, is reflected by these rankings,” says Tina Cunningham.

“Breckenridge is the only city in the nation to have three festivals nationally ranked in the top half of Sunshine’s 200 fine art festivals,” adds her father, Dick Cunningham. “There is proven importance for consistent festival locations and dates — people know where and when to find our shows.”

A Breckenridge Tourism Office/GoBreck 2015 survey (at one festival) showed attendees demonstrate the Mountain Art Festivals’ vitality to community, attracting persons of a desirable, educated/affluent demographic, such as:

80 percent of visitors own versus rent

21,119 people attended this event (47 percent came just for festival)

84 percent hold college degrees (49 percent bachelor, 35 percent post graduate)

64 percent have incomes over $100,000 per year

51 percent of the show-goers were “likely” or “very likely” to visit local galleries

The Summit Daily News was credited as the strongest influence for attendance

The survey also reveals the art festivals generated an estimated $1.1 million in revenue for the town (per event). This includes sales from local business, restaurants and lodging, which generated approximately 1,785 room nights at an average of $186 per night.

Miles F. Porter IV, nicknamed “Spike,” a Coloradan since 1949, is an Army veteran, former hardrock 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 milesfporteriv@aol.com

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