Breckenridge Creative Arts becomes independent nonprofit organization | SummitDaily.com

Breckenridge Creative Arts becomes independent nonprofit organization

Krista Driscoll
kdriscoll@summitdaily.com

Established in 2014, Breckenridge Creative Arts was developed by Breckenridge as a department to support and promote arts, culture and creative experiences throughout the town. On Thursday, Jan. 1, the department was incorporated as a nonprofit independent of the town, creating an umbrella organization that advocates for the arts, provides educational and engagement opportunities and champions the local creative community.

"Part of the plan all along was to take these town-owned assets and to have them branch off and be managed and operated by a nonprofit organization," said Robb Woulfe, president and CEO of BreckCreate, as the nonprofit is known for short.

"The town had looked at a number of different options of how they wanted to manage it — continue as a town department, hire a commercial company that is experienced in venue management — but what they landed upon was this idea of a nonprofit that they would continue to fund but would be responsible for all of the facilities — the Riverwalk Center, Old Masonic Hall, Arts District Campus, Breckenridge Theatre and the Speakeasy Theatre in the new community center — as well as their public art collection."

With the advent of BreckCreate, the Breckenridge Town Council was expected in its Tuesday, Jan. 27, evening meeting to abolish both the Breckenridge Public Arts Commission, formed in 2008 to advise the town on issues related to public art, a role that now falls to BreckCreate, and the Cultural Arts Advisory Committee, created in January 2014 to facilitate the startup of the new nonprofit. Establishing BreckCreate as a nonprofit entity, rather than continuing as a town department or committee, opens up more opportunities for the town.

“It’s really exciting, but it takes time to build something,” he said. “And we’re learning, and we have successes and failures. My hope is that the community gives us the time we need to grow and try these things, but it doesn’t just happen.”
Robb Woulfe
BreckCreate’s president and CEO

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"It becomes a great opportunity for fundraising and to have the transparency of a nonprofit," Woulfe said. "I think the nonprofit designation opens up other avenues to how they might be able to support all the other things we are doing."

MAXIMIZING ASSETS

BreckCreate has two main responsibilities, the first being to manage the town's arts venues and the relationships with the other various arts entities that use those spaces. The second role is to provide additional programming for the venues to ensure these assets are maximized throughout the year. This two-fold task falls to Woulfe and a group of five directors, with a supporting staff of part-time employees.

"It's a lean team, and we have to best leverage our resources and comprehensively look at what we're trying to do, rather than venue by venue or program by program," Woulfe said.

Saam Golgoon, director of operations and facilities, works with outside event producers to ensure they are complying with venue contracts and helps procure talent for programming generated by BreckCreate. He also manages day-to-day facility operations, from hiring cleaning crews to making sure the toilets flush and the heat works in each of the buildings.

"I've been creating new policies and procedures for organizations and producers who are renting and leasing our facilities, so that's been a really big part of my position," Golgoon said.

One of Golgoon's major projects is putting together BCA Presents, an ongoing series of ticketed concerts, performances, lectures and creative happenings at the Riverwalk Center. The first two big concerts scheduled for the series are Lyle Lovett and his acoustic band on Sunday, March 1, and Martin Sexton on Thursday, March 19.

"I love the concerts that we're putting together, all the shows that will be BCA Presents. We are planning to present anywhere between five and seven major concerts this year at the Riverwalk Center," Golgoon said. "This venue, especially, needed to be animated more, and working with partner organizations and outside producers wasn't enough. That was one of the main ideas behind this Breckenridge Creative Arts was to do our own presentations in this facility."

The town of Breckenridge added nearly a half-million dollars worth of new projection and sound equipment and other upgrades to the Riverwalk Center last year, and another extensive upgrade is under way for the lighting and sound systems. Neal M. Kerr, director of production and technical services, is in the throes of this project, which will open up the venue to musical programs that it wasn't able to attract in the past.

"I manage lighting, audio, video, staging, just about anything you can imagine technical-wise for all of our programming," Kerr said of his position, "as well as managing those elements for some of our key partners, like the NRO (National Repertory Orchestra), some BMF (Breckenridge Music Festival) programing. I interface with them quite a bit to help them figure out and manage their technical needs."

A second project on Kerr's plate is the renovation of the Breckenridge Theatre, which will begin in May. The primary tenant for the theater is the Breckenridge Backstage Theatre company, but the new technical capabilities will allow BreckCreate to host additional programming in the space, Kerr said.

GENERATING PROGRAMMING

If an individual or group is interested in teaching a workshop, working in one of the studios on the Arts District Campus, a collection of studios at the northwest corner of Ridge Street and Washington Avenue, or bringing any other kind of crazy art project to fruition, then Jenn Cram, director of public programs and engagement, is the BreckCreate staff member to contact.

"I will be charged with programming the Arts District Campus, so continuing to engage our local artists in teaching workshops and sharing their medium, bringing in regional artists, as well as national and international artists," she said. "Really, activating all of the studios and spaces on the campus, as well as looking at the unexpected venues, such as our trails and open spaces, where we can connect art and the environment.

"All creative ideas are welcome and I want everyone to take advantage of this amazing campus that we have built, whether they are interested in taking a workshop, teaching a workshop, doing some kind of demonstration — all of that is welcome."

Cram will continue to lead the town's public art program, as well, concentrating on a broader definition of what public art can be.

"It's more than just our sculptures and permanent collections and rotating exhibits," she said. "It can include performances and temporary installations and things like that."

Once programming has been developed, it falls under the purview of Heather Pease, director of events and special projects. Pease is in charge of executing and managing BreckCreate's various events and marketing them to the community and beyond.

"One of my bigger responsibilities is going to be sponsorship acquisition," she said. "I think that will be something new that people will be excited to align their businesses with, with all the new events. I'm looking forward to getting that word out and helping people to promote their businesses alongside our brand."

One of Pease's current projects is LateNite @ the District, starting on Friday nights in June. LateNite @ the District is a free, weekly outdoor summer concert and movie series that takes place in the Breckenridge Arts District, featuring regional music talent and screenings of popular, cult and classic films on the lawn.

"I think that fills a gap that people are looking for, which is outdoor film," Pease said.

DEVELOPING BRECKCREATE

Though BreckCreate was newly minted as a nonprofit only a few short weeks ago, the process of building the organization has taken many months, built on a foundation of years of trial and error for the arts in Breckenridge.

"It would have been great to have two to three more years of planning time, strategy time," Woulfe said with a laugh. "We talked immediately about the fact that we need to experiment with it, see what works, see what doesn't work."

Part of the process is establishing operating policies and procedures for the organization, many of which have been generated by Susan Lyon, director of administration and sales. Lyon also oversees the ticket office, which is in the midst of installing a new ticketing system called AudienceView, she said.

"That system is going to provide us with a lot more flexibility in terms of what we can offer the people we collaborate with, partner organizations, people who want to put on their own performances in the facility," Lyon said.

"We will provide ticket office services that are really unmatched thus far in the Riverwalk Center. We're really excited to bring in more reporting capabilities, seating and dynamic pricing; it was quite cumbersome in the past with the old system."

The system will be able to manage ticketing for the Riverwalk Center and other venues, as well as handling registration for workshops and other programming on the Arts District Campus. Woulfe said the ticketing system is just one of many things BreckCreate is pursuing to improve customer service and build positive relationships with the community.

"It's really exciting, but it takes time to build something," he said. "And we're learning, and we have successes and failures. My hope is that the community gives us the time we need to grow and try these things, but it doesn't just happen. Just because you can turn the light on doesn't necessarily mean you have the programming yet to utilize that, but I know we are going to get there and the plan that we've made for ourselves is very strong, and I look forward to the community watching that progression.

"You take what works and you make it better. You take what doesn't work and you retire it and try something new. You keep changing it up, and we're very committed to that, trying to engage other segments of our community that didn't know we were here or thought there weren't programs relevant to them."

In the works

In the coming year, Breckenridge Creative Arts, or BreckCreate for short, will embark upon numerous facility projects and host major programs and events throughout the town of Breckenridge. Here’s a schedule of what’s to come.

• PROGRAM: Fire Arts Festival, Saturday, Jan. 31, to Saturday, Feb. 7 — Presented in conjunction with the International Snow Sculpture Championships, the multiday exhibition will feature burning sculptures, fiery performances, pyrotechnical effects and other spark-filled attractions at the Breckenridge Arts District campus.

• PROGRAM: BCA Presents, ongoing — A series of ticketed concerts, performances, lectures and creative happenings at the Riverwalk Center.

• PROGRAM: Salon 9600, bimonthly, starting in March — Local artists, writers, designers, musicians and creative workers are invited to share stories, photos, essays and performances on a theme. Part party, part conversation, the series is curated by guest artists and rotates bimonthly to different Arts District studios and creative spaces around town.

• FACILITY PROJECT: Breckenridge Theatre renovation begins, May —The goals of the renovation are to enhance the patron experience at the theater, improve the performance stage and back-of-house to accommodate larger productions and create increased flexibility for additional events in the facility. The renovated theater is scheduled to re-open in early 2016.

• FACILITY PROJECT: Old Masonic Hall renovation complete, June — Located on the corner of Main and Washington, the building will be a multipurpose arts facility that will house visual and performing arts classes, workshops, exhibition spaces, artist studios and administrative offices.

• PROGRAM: Sculpture on the Blue, summer — A public art program featuring a rotating outdoor sculpture exhibition for visitors and the local community to enjoy throughout the summer in Breckenridge.

• PROGRAM: Art Around Town, summer — This free summer art walk introduces guests to what is happening in the Breckenridge Arts District, offering them a guided tour through the Sculpture on the Blue outdoor sculpture exhibition and providing education on several of the pieces within the Town’s permanent public art collection.

• PROGRAM: LateNite @ the District, Friday nights, June 19 to Aug. 7 — A free, weekly outdoor summer concert and movie series that takes place in the Breckenridge Arts District on Friday nights from 6 p.m. to midnight. Featuring the best in regional music talent and screenings of popular, cult and classic films on the lawn, the full campus will be open late with entertainment, art-making workshops, studio demos and hands-on family activities.

• PROGRAM: Street Arts Festival, Friday, July 3, to Sunday, July 5 — A celebration of street, pavement and graffiti arts that will feature regional and national artists for a weekend of outdoor murals, installations, workshops and pop-up art throughout the Breckenridge Arts District and the streets of downtown.

• PROGRAM: Breckenridge International Festival of Arts, Friday, Aug. 14, to Sunday, Aug. 23 — Inspired by themes of environment and mountain culture, the 10-day festival brings together a variety of performances, installations, exhibitions, screenings, workshops, talks and surprise collaborations, with an eclectic mix of music, theater, film, visual and street arts and family entertainment.

• PROGRAM: Dia de los Muertos Celebration, late October — A three-day celebration of Day of the Dead festivities that showcases music, hands-on workshops, art installations and altars made by local participants. Mariachi will roam the costumed crowds, Aztec dancers will perform and skeleton faces will be painted throughout the streets of downtown.

• PROGRAM: Handmade Holiday Market, early December — A three-day holiday craft market and winter open house on the Arts District campus, where guests can visit the decorated historic structures and enjoy music and artist demonstrations at the various studios.

Visit http://www.breckcreate.org for more information on these events and facilities and other programs and workshops offered by Breckenridge Creative Arts.