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AROUND TOWN: Legacy of symphony's Bee Vradenburg continues through foundation carrying her name

July 23, 2017 Updated: July 23, 2017 at 4:45 am
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photo - The two leaders, Susan Edmondson, who was executive director of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation for 10 years, with current executive director David Siegel at the 15th anniversary.
071217 Photo by Linda Navarro
The two leaders, Susan Edmondson, who was executive director of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation for 10 years, with current executive director David Siegel at the 15th anniversary. 071217 Photo by Linda Navarro  

What became the Bee Vradenburg Foundation was launched in 2002 with an arts summit at Penrose House, and the foundation's 15th anniversary June 12 was celebrated in the same elegant setting.

"Bee would have been so proud that we are here," said son George Vradenburg III.

For 50 years, Bee Vradenburg was a leader and spokeswoman in the local arts and cultural community, serving nearly four decades as general manger of the Colorado Springs Symphony Orchestra.

When she died in 2000 and husband George shortly thereafter, their son wondered, "What are we going to do with their estate?" After all, he said, he had his own successful career in Washington, D.C., as an attorney and senior executive with AOL Time Warner and Fox Broadcasting.

"What better gift than donating their entire estate to the arts in this community," he decided. "A special gift to my mother. The arts are essential to this community that I love. The mission of the arts is to bring people together."

The foundation fit right into what her friends had called "the Bee factor," her "unceasing ability to tackle new endeavors with gusto and achieve goals others thought impossible." Foremost was leading the successful campaign for Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts, which opened in 1982.

With the arrival of the foundation's 15th year, the decision had to be made whether to "spend it down," said Vradenburg. Not to be. "Just keep going," he said to cheers.

Celebrating all things Beatrice (busy as a "Bee") Vradenburg and the work of the foundation were the trustees, including son George, who is chair, Phil Kendall, Kathleen Fox Collins, Libby Rittenberg, first Executive Director Susan Edmondson and Noel Black. Also trustees are Susan Pattee and Bee's grandchildren, Alissa and Tyler.

Musician David Siegel is the second executive director. Among the grants are the Colorado Springs Conservatory, Millibo Art Theatre, Colorado Springs Creative Collective, Concrete Couch, Hear Here, Ormao Dance Company and Springs Ensemble Theatre.

A special anniversary guest of Andy Vick and COPPeR was Randy Cohen, Americans for the Arts, who earlier that day had presented the community Arts & Economic Prosperity Study showing the $153 million local impact of the arts.

More photos: gazette.com/life/around-town

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