Telluride Arts big 40th Birthday Bash

Telluride Arts big 40th Birthday Bash


 Two-day celebration begins September 9 with old-timey telethon

Poster-40th-pink2-662x1024 The history of the Telluride Council for the Arts & Humanities, aka Telluride Arts, is the history of our town from the tie-dyed days hippies and falling down shacks, the 1970s, to robust resort packed with ski bums, entrepreneurs and retired CEOS, living in hot-and-cold running condos and restored Victorians. What everyone has had in common over the years is reverence for the Telluride landscape and abiding support for the region’s cultural economy, initially nurtured by Telluride Arts.

In 1971, the ski area had just opened and the town’s brand new Arts Council began looking for state grants and running benefits. Those early years were focused on incubating a dynamic arts activity by fostering grass roots initiatives and presenting and producing a robust array of cultural events and activities.  Many of those programs hatched under Telluride Arts have flourished and helped define the region, among them:  Telluride Film Festival, Telluride Chamber Music Festival, Telluride Bluegrass, all three having just celebrated 38 years in business. The Telluride Jazz Celebration, Telluride Writer’s Guild and the Telluride Artists’ Bazaar also received a leg up from the organization.

By the boom years of the 1990s, Telluride Arts focused its support on local artists and grassroots initiatives through small grants and artist fellowships, promoting arts and crafts through art fairs and artist seminars.  In a partnership established with the Town of Telluride in 1986, Telluride Arts has awarded between $10-20 Thousand in small grants and fellowships annually for local arts projects.

In 1996 Telluride Arts initiated the development of the Community Cultural Plan adopted by the town and is recognized for that work in the Governor’s Art Award presented to Telluride Arts and the Mayor in 2010.

In 2005, responding to the need for affordable workspace for artists, Telluride Arts secured a rare historic building in town and developed the Stronghouse Studios and Gallery, so named because back in 1892, the space was purportedly the strongest in town. The open floor plan of the studio lends itself to interaction among artists and visitors, creating an atmosphere in which the exchange of ideas flows freely and often. The building now hosts over 25 visual artists and musicians and offers a darkroom and music room. In  2008, a gallery was established in the building that provides a unique space for local artists to show and sell their work in monthly solo exhibits.

Several times a year, the Stronghouse Gallery plays host to exhibits held in collaboration with special events in Telluride, which helps connect Stronghouse artists with a diverse clientele in town for Festivals. Also in 2008, Telluride Arts provided an artists’ resource series, serving 20-40 artists per quarter with professional development seminars led by locally and nationally recognized arts professionals. Today, Stronghouse artists mentor youth in collaboration with the One to One Mentoring Program and the Telluride School District. Hands-On Stronghouse provides space and activities to engage young visitors to the studio in the artistic disciplines of resident artists.

In 2008, Telluride Arts launched a monthly celebration of all of the arts with the First Thursday Art Walk to showcase the local arts community. Today, over a dozen galleries and venues are connected by a map and footsteps, helping to define and celebrate our dynamic local arts ecology.  In June 2011, Art Walk expanded to include a new program meant to engage families in local arts and culture. Kids Walk provides a map and art guide to prompt exploration of core art principals and offer hands on activities and demonstrations at participating venues.

Not to rest on past laurels, in May 2011, Telluride Arts launched Twenty(by)Telluride, a fun and creative monthly gathering that showcases innovation, knowledge, ideas and creativity of Telluride community members. Now in September 2011, Telluride Arts plans to launch Telluride Open Studios and invite artists, artisans, architects and designers to open their doors and share their creative spaces. The goal in the long-run is to take a leadership role as an arts leader and advocate to ensure the ability for a diverse population to live in the Telluride region, artists as well as collectors of art.

As Telluride Arts looks back over its 40-year history, it looks forward for ways to ensure Telluride’s cultural vitality. Join Telluride Arts at its big bash- the telethon that starts Friday, September 9, 9 p.m. and continues through Saturday until around 9 p.m. Expect the usual from Telluride Arts, which is to say, the unusual and unexpected: everything from jello wrestling to burlesque to djs, dancing and music. The goal is to raise $40,000 for arts programs.

To learn more, click the “play” button and listen to Telluride Arts executive director Kate Jones’ and Sasha Cucciniello’s interview.

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