In our previous blog post, we reminisced with Ginger White-Brunetti and Tariana Navas-Nieves about the cultural planning process that led to the creation of IMAGINE 2020. In today’s blog post, we wrap up our interview by chatting about new challenges that arts, culture, and creativity face in Denver today. We also discuss some of the memorable moments from working together.

New Challenges for 2020 and Beyond

Arts & Venues continues on its quest to be the city described in IMAGINE 2020’S seven vision elements. Given the dramatic changes experienced in Denver through the last five years it is important to keep in mind that “we need to address new challenges.”

Both Ginger and Tariana felt that understanding the role of arts, culture, and creativity in the growth of the city was critical. They are especially interested in understanding how arts, culture, and creativity can maintain a community’s sense of self when faced with a lot of growth.

Ginger noted, “The growth that has happened in the city and the rate of change in some neighborhoods has made members of our community feel like they’re losing what makes Denver unique. Just being mindful of that dynamic is different than it is today. Then we were aspiring to be this world class city. And now there is a group of people who don’t want that if that means x, y, z. They’re not sure if they’re okay with that. We want to be big enough for culture, small enough for community. Some feel that that community piece is being lost. What is arts, culture, and creativity’s role in helping people feel connected with their community and neighborhood? How is arts, culture, and creativity perceived or actually becoming the thing that can be pointed to as a reason for displacement or loss of authenticity? That feels like the big elephant in the room.”

Tariana agreed, “I agree 100%. It is critical to talk about arts, culture, and creativity as catalysts or places of advocacy for the preservation of our city’s people and history. To ensure that with growth we don’t lose sight of what makes our city our city. The role of arts, culture, and creativity has become more critical than ever to preserve and protect communities and neighborhoods through growth that is inevitable. What values do we live by? The conversation about access that we saw in the survey speaks to that. Diverse and under resourced  communities are being more vocal, saying that they want to see themselves more reflected in arts, cultural and creative organizations. Those voices and values are becoming stronger, both locally and nationally. We’ve seen a shift. Audiences and leadership are changing. This has become a central conversation within the arts, culture, and creative ecosystem that needs to be addressed. And all of this is connected.”

The Essence of Corona

We asked Ginger and Tariana to describe Corona in three words or less. As creative thinkers, they opted for a few extra.

Ginger: Orange, colorful, artful. Just throwing out a bunch of words. I certainly thought of co-creator and partner as top of list. You are creative thinkers and problem solvers. And smart.
I think you guys are unique in your approaches and you are intellectually curious. Plus there is the cross-disciplinary thinking that you bring to problems.
Tariana: I had a similar list. Strong partner. Creative. Committed. Ginger said it better—left/right brain. Hard working.
The beauty of what you do is that you both (Kate and Karla) have that creative part. Both sides of the brain to make it all work.

Memorable Moments

We wrapped up by reflecting on the most memorable moments of our work together.

Heeding the Mayor’s Charge

Tariana: The little things that to this day we use and remember. The Mayor’s charge to get out to the nooks and crannies and the unusual suspects. It was very much a part of what the mayor was hoping that this would be. And we honored that. The launch, it sounds corny, was a labor of love. We shared a great sense of pride. We had extended our timeline. We owed it to our city to do it right and we were finally here. Because of the hard work and commitment to partnership, it was truly a celebration.

Advancing the Field

Ginger: One of the things that I’m most proud of is the speaker series. Corona was part of that too. The grant programs and other things are great, but to have periodic reasons for the sector to come together and have a shared experience is really powerful. Most proud of how we kept the plan going and the spirit of collective leadership and advancing the field in that small way. Those are moments that have happened over and over again.

Tariana: We always talk about the speaker series as our offering of professional development for the field. Because not all organizations can travel to hear speakers or go to a conference. That feels very rewarding.

We definitely are not a Cowtown anymore.

Tariana Navas-Nieves

Throughout 2019, to help celebrate our 20th Anniversary, we are profiling our staff and select clients. Click here to view all of our interviews. 

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