The arts are a powerful medium that can educate and inspire millions through a good story.
Welcome to Arts Month, an annual October celebration held in cities across the country. The initiative was founded in 1993 by Americans for the Arts, a nonprofit that works to advance the arts across the country. The Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region introduced Colorado Springs to its first Arts Month in 2014.
“I’ve been able to appreciate and notice how different art forms have contributed to social justice in our country’s history,” says Rodney Gullatte, who will kick off the month by hosting a free virtual community conversation titled “The Art of Social Justice” on Thursday. The ethical hacker and owner of Firma IT Solutions & Services also is the first Black president of the Rotary Club of Colorado Springs.
“Right now what’s precipitating thoughts is George Floyd. It seems to have woke some people up, while others have known it’s been a problem for a long time,” he says. “How has the arts helped people become more aware or communicate differently between people and help people understand the history of it all?”
The Thursday conversation also will feature spoken-word poet Ashley Cornelius, musician Tony Exum, Jr., actor Lynne Hastings and community influencer Goddess Tyescha. The panel will discuss the contributions and impact the arts have on the social justice situation.
Naturally, this year’s Arts Month will look and feel different, what with COVID-19 operating in the background. The usual Artini party to kick off the month and the annual Business and Arts Lunch are canceled, but COPPeR still encourages people to get out and experience a new cultural experience, even if that experience is virtual. For more information on activities, go to ArtsOctober.com.
“Give it a chance. You’ll fall in love with it,” says COPPeR Executive Director Andy Vick. “Arts Month is a chance to be adventurous. Sign up to listen to some of the dialogue and conversations that artists from across the community with different perspectives will share. It’s all free.”
New features this year include “Artist-a-Day,” which will introduce the public to artists, performers and creatives around the Pikes Peak region; virtual cooking classes with David and Cortney Cook from Gather Food Studio; and community conversations with artists and arts leaders, including Colorado Springs Dance Theatre Executive Director Jordan McHenry, Grass it Up fiddler David Siegel and Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College Producing Artistic Director Scott Levy.
Pikes Peak Litter Letter Project will return, which will culminate in a piece of sculptural art constructed with trash collected from public lands and waterways during Creek Week. Participants will fill out the word “resilient.” The litter letters will be displayed through October on a berm off Cimarron Street, east of I-25 and south of America the Beautiful Park, 126 E. Cimino Drive.
Colorado Springs Dance Theater and the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum will host the free, family-friendly “Halloween Hip-Hop” event Oct. 31 outside the downtown museum. Dance instructor Ron Jules will teach participants the choreography from Michael Jackson’s famous “Thriller” video.
“The art piece is fascinating and touches people in different ways,” Gullatte says. “It talks to a different part of the brain. If I can entertain you with a story, whether it’s told through song, visual arts or videos, that’s a powerful move in the right direction. People are learning from it.”
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