Spotlight on the Grand Arts council
Written By: Katie Hearsum
community engagement manager, Town of Grand Lake
A cornerstone of Grand Lake’s vibrant creative community, the Grand Arts Council has been bringing cultural activities, performances and entertainment to the area for more than 30 years. This non-profit organization is entirely run by volunteers, including a board of directors that dedicates time and effort to shepherd each affair into fruition.
The group stays busy coordinating events year-round, many of which have been in continuous production for 20+ years and have come to be known as local traditions. Some of its longest-running events include a weekly outdoor summer concert series, which is free to attend, and Tombstone Tales, which provides guided tours of the Grand Lake Cemetery led by costumed volunteers who regale participants with stories and anecdotes depicting the history and heritage of the area, held over Labor Day weekend.
The organization’s inaugural event was an Olde Fashioned Craft Bazaar, created to kick-off the festivities of the holiday season. The annual fair continues still today, now coinciding with the Town’s tree lighting ceremony over Thanksgiving weekend to capture the attention of crowds who are in the spirit to shop for unique, handmade gifts.
The council’s treasurer, Jim Cervenka, explains “Part of our mission is to support artists. Our events give Grand County crafters, musicians and artisans the opportunity for a sort of ‘storefront.’ It’s a special experience to interact with an artist in person.”
The organization subsists on grant funding, membership fees and event proceeds to cover the cost of events as well as provide scholarships to high school students who plan to pursue an arts-related career path, which includes a wide range of ambitions from graphic design to the performing arts. A recent partnership wtih the Grand Lake Creative District has resulted in additional marketing and grant support, a collaboration which Cervenka describes as “very beneficial.”
Over the last three decades, the Grand Arts Council has adapted its offerings to meet the changing needs and character of the community it serves. Thanks to a grant obtained by the Grand Lake Creative District to renovate the audio-visual equipment in Grand Lake’s historic Community House, the council was able to revive its free community movie night series last summer, and is looking forward to using the improved facility to host a professional comedy night in December, a performance of the Central City Opera in February, and an intimate concert by the adventurous and eclectic vocal harmony duo, Moors & McCumber, in March.
When asked about what has changed the most over the years, Cervenka notes that while the interest in and demand for community events remains strong among both locals and visitors alike, volunteer participation has become a challenge. He recalls fond memories of when the council would perform a melodrama during the Christmas holiday season, an attraction that has not been possible in recent years due to lack of volunteers. Volunteers are a crucial element of the organization’s success, needed primarily to staff events and participate on its board.
The next event hosted by the Grand Arts Council will be a free holiday movie screening on Dec. 22, followed by a comedy show on Dec. 30. You can learn more and get involved at https://grandartscouncil.com/.