Thursday, September 8, 2016

Academics, Meet the Artists….Fine Arts Center and Colorado College alliance is underway…

For those who may not have heard already, Colorado College (CC) and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center (FAC) are joining forces, in search of a mutually beneficial alliance.  The deal was finalized in August, and Colorado College officially took over management responsibilities at the FAC on September 1, 2016.  

The transition process has begun, with three “Listening Sessions” scheduled to engage the two communities in planning for the new organization’s (CCFAC?) future.  

I attended the first of the listening sessions, and I can honestly report that this was indeed a “listening” session for the parties to this merger.  Dave Dahlin, President and Chief Executive Officer of the FAC, and Jill Tiefenthaler, President of Colorado College, took the stage and listened to the 25 or so people who made it to the 7:30 AM meeting.  Other than introductions and posing five questions to the group, Ms. Tiefenthaler and Mr. Dahlin listened carefully to everyone who spoke.  It struck me as significant, as both could have delegated this meeting to a subordinate.  Neither did.  They came in person to learn what the community has to say about the future of both institutions.

My interest is the impact this merger may have on the FAC Performing Arts program.  The answer not clear.  The Listening Sessions are the first part of the strategic plan, and that plan will not be finalized until June, 2017.

There is a five question format for all three Listening Sessions:

1.  What are your favorite things about the FAC?

2.  If you could change one thing about the FAC, what would it be?

3.  Imagine a newspaper headline in 2020 that highlights the success of the FAC at Colorado College.  What would that headline say?

4.  What do we need to consider as we work to provide a nationally recognized arts center for both Colorado College students and the entire Colorado Springs community?

5.  How would you like to be involved with the FAC at Colorado College.

A number of participants spoke very favorably of the Bemis Art School program and the museum collections.  Support for the theater program was also strong.  Jay Hahn and Max Ferguson reminded the hosts that the theater program is an incubator for local talent as well as a recent source of growth for the FAC.  When asked for a headline for 2020, Max offered a great one:  “Colorado Springs approves a cultural, arts and science facilities tax to ensure the continuation of the CCFAC.” 

Although the strategic plan will not be in place until mid 2017, it is likely that the CC/FAC merger will impact the FAC programs (art, theater, education, and outreach) in many ways.  It’s too early to speculate what those impacts will be, but there is an opportunity NOW to have input on the direction the CCFAC takes in the future.

Additional “Listening Sessions” are scheduled for:

1.  Wednesday, September 14, 4:30-6:00 PM at CC’s Packard Performance Hall, 5 W. Cache la Poudre Street.

2.  Monday, Sept. 26, 7 p.m.-8:30 p.m., Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Music Room, 30 W. Dale Street.

If you can’t make one of the “Listening Sessions,” you can still participate by completing an online survey that contains the same five questions described above.

Jill Tifenthaler, President, Colorado College, and David Dahlin, President/CEO, Fine Arts Center.  
Photo credit:  Bill Wheeler.

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