While the screaming headlines of COVID, the upcoming election, the economy and international relations dominate the conversation and would seem to indicate that arts and culture are not currently an important force in our world, the truth is vastly different. Arts and culture are the touchstones that are the very foundation of education, innovation, community and industry. The Pikes Peak region has celebrated Arts Month every October since 2014 in conjunction with National Arts & Humanities Month. Over the past three decades, it has become the nation’s largest collective annual celebration of the arts.
In a typical Arts Month year, there would be more than 300 in-person arts and cultural events happening across our region during the month of October. Since COVID-19 has restricted public gatherings and temporarily shuttered most performance venues, many (but not all) of this year’s Arts Month events and activities have moved online. Fortunately, our creative community has pivoted adeptly, and local artists and arts organizations are continuing to find new and innovative ways to make art and engage audiences in a virtual environment.
As our community continues to struggle with questions of racial equity and social justice, Rodney Gullatte, founder of the Colorado Springs Black Business Network and current President of the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs, will kick off Arts Month 2020 at 6 p.m. Oct. 1 with a free online community conversation on the importance of diversity and inclusion and how the arts can serve as a catalyst for systemic change.
As parents struggle to teach homebound children and educators are challenged to find meaningful performance and hands-on arts opportunities for their students, Arts Month 2020 provides a wide array of activity suggestions. And, as more residents head outdoors to enjoy our natural environment, our public art installations and murals provide a welcome outdoor diversion. Through a special Arts Month partnership with Pike Ride, cyclists and walkers can download the free RideSpot app to enjoy a curated tour of public art and local murals.
Peak Radar’s Curbside Culture program is in full force during Arts Month 2020, offering residents the opportunity to engage a local performing artist for their small, socially-distanced group to provide an intimate artistic experience. Visit PeakRadar.com/CurbsideCulture for more.
This year’s Arts Month also offers free, online cooking classes to engage budding culinary artists of all ages in learning how to advance their craft.
The arts are not just a spectator sport. In this newly virtual world, art is more democratic than ever and more accessible than ever. What will you share through virtual channels? Your family’s jug band? Your neighborhood chalk art competition? A local student performance? Be sure to share all your artistic talent and Arts Month creativity online using #ArtsOctober.
This is not our nation’s first pandemic, and so many comparisons have been made to the influenza epidemic of 1918-1920. Art didn’t disappear during that time and arguably many significant art movements and works of art came from that time. Visual artists such as Man Ray, Edvard Munch, Marcel DuChamp and Paul Klee rose to prominence. Pablo Picasso painted many of his most recognizable pieces in this period. Early radio technology was developed in 1918 and launched its first broadcast in 1920 bringing opera, orchestra and the uniquely American jazz music to the masses. Film technology and technique were evolving as filmmakers shifted from short films and theater-centric technique to unique film-specific modalities. In fact, the trials and tribulations of the 1918 influenza pandemic gave rise to the heady, roaring 1920s.
What will the pandemic contribute to the canon of arts in the Pikes Peak region and in our world? How will art motivate innovation and expand the possibilities of our community?
Despite the challenges of COVID-19, our seventh annual Arts Month celebration promises to be one of our biggest and best ever. Please consider this your personal invitation to visit
ArtsOctober.com, to learn more and find out how you can get involved. This October, more than ever, we encourage you to have at least one new cultural experience (virtual or in person) with family or friends!
Andy Vick is executive director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region.