The Beet Street Blog

Archive for the ‘arts’ tag

Insanity and anarchy in the Fort

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Due to a last minute change in plans at Beet Street, the OpenStage Theatre & Company is employing a bit of improv by presenting at tonight’s Art Café at Avo’s.

Jonathan Farwell portrays King Lear - photo by Harper Point Photography

OpenStage is currently showing Shakespeare’s classic “King Lear” at the Masonic Temple in Ft. Collins. Director Peter Anthony, Artistic Director Denise Freestone and cast members Jonathan Farwell and Deb Note-Farwell will discuss their ambitious and dynamic production before giving you a sneak peek of this very special play.

Part of the magic is the venue itself. The Masonic Temple layout puts the play in the round, making it “very intimate and close,” explained Freestone. The audience is right there for the exciting combat scenes and sword fights. Duck!

The other draw to this timeless tale of a misguided father and his daughters is the crown jewel portraying Lear. The play has been two years in the planning since director Peter Anthony first approached Jonathan Farwell about the idea. Farwell turns 80 this year and was enjoying retirement from a full, professional career on stage, film and television when he embraced the “role of a lifetime.”

“It’s a tremendous experience to play the role,” says Farwell, who gets to share the stage with his real life co-star, Deb Note-Farwell. The veteran has been acting from Broadway to Hollywood before settling in Northern Colorado several years ago.

Farwell and Anthony collaborated on a unique vision of the mystical story, considered to be one of Shakespeare’s greatest. Lear “touches the heart and rattles the soul,” said Anthony.

The production runs through July 3 at the Masonic Temple, 225 W. Oak St and you can get tickets by calling 970-221-6730 or going online at Go behind the scenes with the major players tonight at Avogadro’s Number, starting at 5:30 p.m.

Written by Susan Richards

June 22nd, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Encouraging talent in our schools: help support Fort Collins’ first student house band!

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We all have probably heard of the importance of music in schools. Students who study music are opened up to a world of creativity that can enhance learning in other subjects. Our own Poudre School District in Fort Collins offers various music programs to its students, including extracurricular opportunities for bands and choirs, but there is one group going above and beyond to showcase musical talent in our schools.

Over one year ago, Suna Thomas and staff members from Kinard Middle School noticed that many students had musical talents but were unable to play in traditional school bands. Some kids had been playing instruments such as guitar and bass for many years, but had no outlet for their creativity and talent within the school system. With the support of the Fort Collins community, the hopes of Suna and many students became a reality- one month ago, Kinard Middle School formed the Poudre School District’s first “House Band.”

Auditions were held, and 7 students were picked to participate in this unique music program. Instruments include guitar, bass, piano, keyboards, electric drums, and even electric violin. Instructor David Parsons leads the House Band, and holds rehearsal twice a week. Not only do the band members regularly show up to practice, which is held before classes begin in the morning, according to Suna they often show up early, and enthusiastically get in as much play time as they can. That is serious dedication!

And all the hard work is definitely beginning to pay off for these kids. The Kinard Middle School House Band is generating a ton of buzz in Fort Collins, earning support from the Fort Collins Music Association, Colorado Contemporary Music College, Shaped Music, Chipper’s Lanes, Valpak, and Northern Colorado radio station KISS FM. Even local music instructors and lots of music stores around town have lent tremendous support. The response to the House Band in such a short period of time demonstrates both the student’s amazing musical ability and the willingness of organizations and individuals in Fort Collins to step up and support aspiring musicians.

We look forward to hearing more from these students in the coming months. There is work to be done as the House Band continues to perfect their sound, and as the program seeks to gain more support through events and fundraisers. There is a huge need for us to foster musical endeavors such as these as they get off the ground. As Suna noted, “no one has ever done this before.” The ability of everyone at Kinard Middle School to build this program organically is truly impressive, and deserves the continuing support of Fort Collins.

The ultimate goal of the House Band program is to encourage students in their chosen activities, even when they do not fit into the “typical” system of school extracurriculars. Suna said, “We hope that the success that is achieved at Kinard will be a catalyst for others to follow in our footsteps and give more of these type of talented kids the same opportunity to be recognized.” Just imagine how it must feel for any student to know that their own interests are supported and encouraged by their own community.

Check out the Kinard Middle School House Band’s amazing musical talent here!  You can also see them play live early next year, as they have been invited to perform during intermission at a Colorado Eagles game! Beet Street will be keeping you updated on event details as this program continues to grow.

If you would like more information on how you can support the House Band program, please contact us here at Beet Street. After all, recognizing talents of all kinds is vital to inspiring true creativity and learning.

Engaging Communities…

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Communityfrom the Middle English comunete, Anglo-French communité, Latin communitat-, communitas, from communis, first appearing as a word in the 14th century. Defined as a unified body of individuals with common interests living in a particular area; an interacting population of various kinds of individuals in a common location; a group linked by a common policy; a body of persons or nations having a common history or common social, economic, and political interests exercising joint ownership or participation, a common character, a social state or condition.

Over the last couple of months we have been sharing some of the more interesting ways communities around the country and the globe sustain their members and themselves. Grounding community is not just about gathering a group of people who have common interests, as we see in the definition above, but also about having those people share a common experience. It is the act of being together that keeps us together in some very fundamental ways.

Last week, Deborah discussed the ‘dinner with a stranger’ experience Franke James and Mark Shouldice of Toronto engaged in, getting to know each other, for a charitable purpose. This started me thinking about the other ways in which communities can come together around common experiences. Starting this week for example, our very own CoCOA (Colorado Coalition of Artists) will be hosting their annual 2 week members’ art event through to June 16at the Poudre River Arts Center Gallery on North College Ave. The event is open to all current and new members of CoCOA with a $15 entry fee for up to 3 pieces! There will be three “People’s Choice Awards.” If you are interested in participating, drop off your work tomorrow Wednesday, June 3 from 10:30 to 2pm. If that time does not work for you, please feel free to email CoCOA to make other arrangements  — Even if you have no work to share, drop into the Gallery to see all the wonderful work people are doing in the community!

From art in the community to books in the community– for the last 5 years, Mayor Hickenlooper has supported the One Book, One Denver program where the entire city reads the same book over one month, September usually, followed by another month of events around the book’s theme. One Book, One Denver is a citywide book club. The goal of the program is to cultivate a culture of reading in Denver, with objectives to build community and stimulate people to read. Denver and Colorado citizens, young and old, are encouraged to join others in the shared experience of simultaneously reading the same book and participating in related events. This year, instead of the mayor choosing the book, the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs (DOCA) has created a list of 27 options, ranging across genres for the community to vote on as the Book for Denver in 2009. There is a website where voters can read a summary of each book, hear the first one or two paragraphs read by Denver’s own Poet Laureate (I didn’t know there was one!), Chris Ransick, learn about the authors and vote (voting is open until June 15). Once voting ends and the winning book is determined, the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs will begin laying out the 2009 One Book, One Denver program for a September 1 launch. On that date, Mayor Hickenlooper will announce the winning book at a news conference and the associated FREE and FUN programming that will carry through October.

Here in Fort Collins, Fort Collins Reads has selected Tortilla Curtain by T.C. Boyle for its 2009 one-city, one-book program. Boyle has written 20 books and will be touring internationally to promote his latest work, The Women. His visit to Fort Collins on Nov. 7-8 will be the culmination of numerous events focusing on his book and its message about immigration. Pick up a copy of the book, take part in the discussion, and hear the author speak. Moreover, for the first time in 2009, there will be a companion book for this event — Red Glassby Laura Resau (of Fort Collins!!). Contact Fort Collins Reads at with your questions and suggestions on how to get Fort Collins reading and talking. I am hoping to read both!

If book reading is not your scene, how about a Six Word Memoir? Yes, your story in
6 words! Apparently, Hemingway was once challenged to write a story in only 6 words. Here is what he wrote — “For Sale: baby shoes, never worn.” In 2006, SMITH magazine reawakened the idea of 6 word memoirs and asked their readers to contribute their own. They sent in short life stories by the hundreds, culminating in a blog, a series of books and a huge community of aficionados. These memoirs ranged from the bittersweet (“Cursed with cancer, blessed with friends”) and poignant (“I still make coffee for two”) to the inspirational (“Business school? Bah! Pop music? Hurrah”) and hilarious (“I like big butts, can’t lie”). What would you write for your memoir if only given 6 words?

Finally, music. Last month, I was reading Dan Pink’s blog (the author of a Whole New Mind amongst others…) and he was discussing the YouTube Symphony Orchestra. Yes, YouTube, that web video mogul, has an orchestra! Basically, late last year YouTube issued a musical casting call to all professional and amateur musicians of all ages, locations and instruments to audition for the YouTube Symphony Orchestra by submitting a video performance of a new piece written for the occasion by the renowned Chinese composer Tan Dun. A panel of first-class musicians selected the finalists and the 90 winners, who come from more than 30 countries, assembled in New York City to perform together at Carnegie Hall. You can see the results here…. it’s a beautiful thing!

We hope to build from some of these ideas over the next few months to create an engaging and engaged Fort Collins community. We would love to hear any suggestions you may have for events and activities in which we could all participate – please feel free to share below!

With thanks to alincolnt, and niallkennedy for their art!!

Art for all, all for art!

Kirsten Broadfoot

“Be Better Today Than You Were Yesterday” – Words of Edward James Olmos

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“Education is the vaccine for violence.”

I remember at the end of a meeting, a colleague asked me once if I was an academic or an activist. I was struck by the question, for at the heart of it, there seems like there should be a separation of the two. That they are somehow incompatible or at the very least, capable of distorting each other so that neither can be truly a reliable performance or identity. I wonder what Edward James Olmos would say if asked whether he is an actor or activist? After all, do those two terms not come from the same linguistic root?

Olmos’ early life was framed by the forces of the barrio in which he lived in East LA and a passion for baseball which would teach him the values that he would need to escape a common fate of most of the barrio brothers – life in a gang. As Olmos told a reporter from Time, “Inside this world, everyone was the same. We were all poor. And the only way to survive it was through a constant struggle of trying to be better today than you were yesterday.” To improve his own chances of getting out of poverty, Olmos would form a successful rock band, attend East Los Angeles Community College during the day and study during set breaks when they played the clubs at night. He would also fall in love with acting and yet, start a business delivering antiques to make enough money to live.  Once the band broke up, he would deliver furniture during the day while working in experimental theatre at night, building his path to the TV shows and movies — the actor –he would come to be known as — Zoot Suit, Miami Vice, Stand and Deliver, The Ballad of Gregorio Cortez, Selena, American Me and others as he continues his performative work. Much of this work would reflect his values and commitments to the Hispanic community, especially its youth, and their future (the activist). By his own account, 94% of his time is spend working for free – trying to make life better for others.

Named by Hispanic Magazine as the nation’s most influential Hispanic American, Olmos is a U.S. Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF, a national spokesperson for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and Executive Director of the Lives in Hazard Educational Project, a national gang prevention program funded by the U.S Department of Justice. As he recently told Hispanic’s Katherine Diaz, “I would hate to look back on my life and only see myself as a person who made lots of money and was a star and made Rambo and Terminator movies. I have made my body of work something that I am proud of and that in 100 years, my great-great-grandchildren will go and see my work and say, ‘well, grandpa really did some extraordinarily different kinds of work.'”

Actor or activist? It seems more important to commit yourself to causes in which you believe and work to make your work serve them. We hope you will join us for what promises to be an extraordinary evening with Edward James Olmos entitled, “We’re all in the same gang”, on Tuesday April 28th, at the Lincoln Center Performance Hall, starting at 7pm. Tickets are $10 adult, $8 students/seniors (60+). A limited number of seats are available for a special Meet the Speaker ticket which includes preferred seating and a reception with the speaker afterwards.

Wherever you go, there you are.

Kirsten Broadfoot

Raising a Creative Economy

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“the Creative Economy at its best, is about communities taking responsibility for their condition and creating meaningful work and a viable economy with the most powerful resources at their disposal. These include the distinct nature and culture of their place, and the creativity of the people — all the while welcoming and learning from those who pass through or who decide to stay” (Tom Borrup, 2009).

When we say someone or something is creative, what do we mean? Imaginative? Innovative? Inventive? Artistic? Fantastic?

Now imagine these adjectives combined with the word ‘economy’ (meaning management of the house)….imaginative economy, inventive economy, artistic economy, fantastic economy…. getting the idea?

The term and phenomenon of the “creative economy” describes industries that have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent, and have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation of ideas, products and/or services. These industries and activities are critical not only because of their contribution to the knowledge economy which is in the process of engulfing the globe, but also because of their capacity for urban and civic regeneration, the preservation of cultural heritage and cultural identity and the creation of places and communities as ‘destinations’. Tom Borrup consults, teaches, and writes about community transformation, cultural infrastructure, and the creative economy. He believes that the creative economy grounds itself in an active community of artists, an eternal and constant spring of respect for indigenous/multiple cultures, and finally and most importantly, cultural and economic equity.

In their recent report on the state of the arts in Colorado, the Colorado Council on the Arts issued some surprising statements on the nature of the creative economy in our communities. Indeed, it seems that Colorado is actually quite a creative state, ranking 5th nationally in terms of the concentration of artists overall; 2nd in concentration of architects, 7th in concentration of writers, designers, entertainers and performers, and 8th in concentration of photographers. Interestingly only New York, California, Massachusetts and Vermont rank higher. Here in the Northwest of Colorado, we grow arts and music festivals, visual artists hang down in the Southwest corner where the red rocks, white snow, and green pines blind us with their beauty and the literati hang in the center of the state, inspired by the clear air of the mountains and lakes.

These creative activities, industries, communities and populations are sustained through their emotional and aesthetic appeal to others as they engage in work which is inherently creative and artistic. Why is such work meaningful? Because long before we were literate, art and our artistic endeavors formed the base of a universal language and a dominant form of communicating place, identity, purpose and membership. Tom Borrup believes that creative economies and communities hold onto the distinctiveness of place, remain open to learning and reinvention and accept new ideas from unlikely places, forming common and strong bonds between those involved in local cultural practices and the economic livelihood of their communities. Drawing from the Houston based Project Row Houses, Borrup proposes that in creative communities and economies, art and creativity are woven into the very fabric of life through rituals, ceremony and other utilitarian activities; quality education and strong neighborhoods sustain social safety nets for the community and facilitate social responsibility; economic development is essential for all residents both present and future and architecture as a social practice, should make sense of and preserve a community’s character.

So, make 2009 your year to raise the arts and creative life of your community – check out our website to see and experience the extraordinary offerings here for you – see a show, hear a speaker, go to a festival, and bring your friends!

With thanks to Amanda Woodward and *Sally M* for their fantastic art!

Kirsten Broadfoot