Colorado Springs News, Sports & Business

Q&;A: Andy Vick starts as new executive director of COPPeR

By Jen Mulson Published: February 11, 2014 0

Andy Vick is familiar with jobs that encourage hitting town for some culture. He's the new executive director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, replacing Christina McGrath, who held the position from 2011 to 2013. Founded in 2008, COPPeR is dedicated to fostering the arts and promoting connections between business and the arts.

Vick recently left his position as executive director of the Allegany Arts Council in Cumberland, Md.. He oversaw the organization from 2003 until the end of last year; he also had served as a board member since 1999.

His first day on the job was Feb. 3.

Question: What's your first order of business?

Answer: I'm looking forward to going out, hearing some music, going to the theater and First Friday (downtown art openings). My focus for the next few months is to meet people, understand what's happening in the community and experience the art firsthand.

Q: What's in the works for COPPeR?

A: COPPeR has some exciting initiatives lined up. There's arts month in October, to coincide with National Arts and Humanities Month. COPPeR has a number of programs - like Coffee with COPPeR and the Business and Arts Lunch - that have been successful, that I hope to continue and learn about and become more involved in.

Q: What did you accomplish in Maryland?

A: There were always arts in the Maryland community, but as a county arts council, we did a superior job of connecting people, demonstrating the importance of arts in the community and getting buy-in from political and business leaders, who are so important to supporting the arts community. That's already happening here, but the more we can build upon that and entice people and businesses in the community to support and invest in the arts, and demonstrate the importance in doing that - it's an important part of what COPPeR's about.

Q: Is there anything you hope to bring from your previous job to COPPeR?

A: The county donated a surplus bus and we wrapped it in a colorful exterior and transformed the interior, and it became an arts bus. We were able to take arts out into the community and provide hands-on experiences, particularly for kids, and other groups. It was a nice visible presence for the arts council and engaged the community in positive ways.

I was involved in the arts and entertainment districts there, what we call creative districts here. We hope to work closely with the Downtown Partnership on the Colorado Springs district and the Woodland Park district and other communities that are interested. We'd love for COPPeR to play a supporting role in all those districts, and build up a robust arts community where all the districts function independently, but coordinate so the region becomes known as a vibrant designation for the arts.

Q: Why are the arts so important to a city?

A: The notion of arts and entertainment districts is important for the arts and for community revitalization. I did a lot of work in that arena, not only in Maryland, but across the country ... talking about how arts can be a tool for economic development, and helping community leaders understand that arts not only have a wonderful intrinsic value, but can revitalize sections of town where they are focused in. That's the premise behind the creative district program - how to use the arts to revitalize, energize, bring people downtown, attend art events, patronize businesses and go to restaurants. How do you create it in such a way that it becomes appealing to the community, and how do you help the leaders in the community - the political and business leaders - understand that the arts has an important role to play in the vitality of the broader community.

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Edited for space and clarity.

Contact Jennifer Mulson, 636-0270, jen.mulson@gazette.com

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