New COPPeR director throws open doors

February 3, 2011
photo - Christina McGrath, new executive director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region Photo by
Christina McGrath, new executive director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region Photo by  

 Christina McGrath is on Day 18 as executive director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, and she’s almost managed to take a breath.

 “I’ll tell you,” she says, “it’s definitely like drinking water from a hose.”

You can meet McGrath on Friday during an open house in its Plaza of the Rockies office.
COPPeR, as most call it, is an umbrella organization dedicated to fostering the arts  and promoting connections between business and the arts. The three-year old organization is also responsible for, a popular online events calendar.

McGrath, 25, replaced Bettina Swigger, a young powerhouse who is now executive director of the Mosaic Music Festival in San Luis Obispo, Calif. During Swigger’s tenure, COPPeR seemed to hit every mark: It sponsored an arts summit, conducted a study of the cultural impact of the arts local, and in late 2010 released a 10-year cultural plan for the area as well as a five-year strategic plan for COPPeR.

“That’s where I feel fortunate,” said McGrath, who oversaw several charitable funds at El Pomar. “Bettina was so loved. People are open to what we’re doing. So I haven’t felt any push back in terms of entering this role.”

Instead, her biggest challenge has been to rein in her expectations of herself.
“One thing is that just there’s a lot of energy out there. People in the arts community. People in the business community,” she says. “I have to remind myself that I don’t have to do everything in the first two weeks. To maintain that energy past the next couple of months is my goal.”

McGrath sees her job now as listening and nurturing efforts toward implementing the cultural plan. COPPeR is also launching a new partnership with Americans for the Arts, a national organization that supports the arts and culture through private and public resource development.

Through Americans for the Arts, they’ll be involved in the Arts and Economic Prosperity Study, which is designed to concretize the economic impact of the arts in the community. After gathering data this year, the finished study will surface in 2012, she says.

When asked if she’s managed to make any enemies yet, she laughs. “I hope not. It’s Week Three, though.”

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