04.23.18

Leadership Fellows Spotlight: Cindy Sepucha

“Since the first meeting of the Leadership Fellows program, it’s always so much more interesting than I think it might be,” laughs Cindy Sepucha, a current fellow and executive director of Open Studios, one of the Community Foundation’s arts and culture grantees

 
“I went into the program with the idea that the arts and creativity are part of everything in our community, everything in our lives. The more I’m around people doing other work in our community, that sense has been validated – and expanded. I’m constantly reminded of how the arts can amplify important ideas.”
 
Among the county trends, opportunities, and community concerns discussed in Leadership Fellows, the high cost of living here “comes up all the time,” according to Cindy, who’s particularly tuned in to the challenge as it affects local creative folk.
 
“For professional artists in our community, it’s very hard finding not only a place to live, but finding an affordable workspace, too. What I learned in Leadership Fellows, though, is that this issue relates to almost everything in our community. 
 
“I learned that, for a family of four in Boulder, you need $70-80K to cover basic needs. That was shocking to me, especially when you consider that artists make around $30K a year, and about half of that if you’re female. So you have a lot of artists working in a corner of a bedroom.
 
“But it’s not just artists. There are plenty of other groups of people in our community who are in similar situations.” 
 
Cindy went on to describe Open Studios’ self-guided tour that happens every fall – now in its 23rd year –, featuring more than 120 local artists. “Our goal is simply to connect artists with people who love art,” she says. “But there’s a lot more to us than just the tour. We have programs where we pay artists to share their expertise and experiences with schools, to deepen students’ knowledge about creative industries.”
 
There’s the Plein Air Festival, too, coming up June 3-10. “I wanted to create an event that didn’t require artists to have a studio in Boulder,” continues Cindy, connecting the second annual festival back to the high cost of living here. “We have artists coming from different places, other communities … beyond those who have their studios here.”
 
Concludes Cindy, “I’m constantly amazed by the quality of art in our community, especially since it’s so difficult to make ends meet here. 
 
"Many of our artists earn a living teaching classes, or doing other things. So another goal at Open Studios is to help our local artists along by creating a database of such visual arts opportunities countywide. It’s a small thing that we can do, that I think can positively impact artists who are trying to make a living wage here.”