Artists flock to Boulder County, but struggle to make ends meet
Using the arts to promote social change
Art helps us tell stories that define who we are as a people. These stories can be used to promote social change or for propaganda to dehumanize people.
“We don’t believe that art is ever neutral,” said Kirsten Wilson, Executive Director of Motus Theater in Boulder. “How Motus Theater uses art is to make sure the voices that are often marginalized in our community because of historic inequality are amplified so that more of the stories of our community are told.”
“Nature and the spirit expand us”
Ana Maria Hernando moved to Boulder 22 years ago because the city had a contemporary art museum, and because she thought it would be a good place to raise her three young children after a divorce.
After growing up in Argentina, the artist first came to the United States to attend the University of California, Berkeley. From there, she moved to Boston, then to Boulder, which she found collaborative and welcoming.
A touch of Shakespeare in the foothills
The Colorado Shakespeare Festival marked its 60th season in 2017. The season also marked the second time the country’s second-oldest Shakespeare festival completed Shakespeare’s entire canon, a feat achieved by only a few other companies in the nation.
That meant staging the rarely seen “Henry VI, Part 3” in addition to crowd pleasers.
“It’s rarely produced. The last time we produced it was in the 1960s,” said Timothy Orr, Producing Artistic Director.
Flying for a living
How’s this for finding your bliss? Reliving your favorite childhood pastimes in a more artistic way.
Here’s what Nancy Smith, Founder of Frequent Flyers in Boulder, had to work with as source material:
“I spent my childhood climbing trees, swinging on swings and going around till I got dizzy,” she said.
“Gigging for a living since 2001”
Alex Johnstone works in the gig economy, but not in the most recent sense of the term, which often means driving for Uber.
He plays music, specifically fiddle and mandolin, with a group called RapidGrass.
“I’ve been gigging for a living since 2001,” he said.
It’s easier to make a living playing bluegrass in Colorado than it is in other places, partly because the music is more experimental and jam band-ish in Colorado than it is in Appalachia, according to Johnstone. That makes the appeal broader.
Fund helps artists find their footing
We’ve come to know that many people at home in Boulder County want to make a difference beyond their lifetimes – for generations to come: people like Martha Kate Thomas whose fund for artists, established with the Community Foundation in 2012, supports those with unforeseen needs due to special circumstances.
Arts employment, income and ticket sales are on the rise, in Boulder and across the county. But with an average artist salary hovering around $24,000, and home prices and rents skyrocketing, how will will sustain it?