A letter from the culture desk

Imagine my inflated sense of self importance as I, the new culture editor for 303 Magazine, attended a panel discussion on the role that art and culture play in a community. (An entire panel on my topic of expertise?! Score.) I wore a structured sheath dress and spectacles and nodded thoughtfully throughout the conversation. The general consensus was that the art and culture of a community defines the vibrancy of a city, which either makes or breaks its overall livability. Denver, as it happens, has livability. It has a pretty outstanding art scene and is a pretty sweet place to call home. The panel agreed. But, they took this idea one step further: a strong cultural identity and art scene increases livability, thereby increasing the chances that companies (and people) will want to move to such a cultural mecca, which will lead to economic spillover. The equation is something like this:

Strong Art & Culture Scene —> More Businesses —> More Money

Okay, so maybe that is less of an equation and more of a flow chart, but you get the idea. Art and culture lead to big bucks and desirable living. According to the panel, Santa Fe (the district not the city) is where it’s at.

By this point, my head was so large I’m surprised I didn’t just float away. Art and culture make the world go ‘round, eh? Then, one of the panelists said, “Of course, we need more media coverage.” It was an aside, mentioned almost under her breath, but everyone in the audience nodded in agreement. My proverbial high horse bucked me straight off. The art and culture scene in Denver needs more media coverage? Our Mile High oasis, the lure of businesses all over, is not getting enough time in the limelight? Could this be true? I have no real way of measuring cultural media coverage, but if an entire room full of art-savvy people think it’s lacking, then I’ll take their word for it.

So Denver, here’s my proclamation: You have a high standard of livability. Your cultural art scene is thriving. If it’s press you need, it’s press you’re gonna get.

I’m so proud to call Denver home. I’m proud of all the films, theaters, photography exhibits, dance, painting and everything else that makes up our cultural nook. While art, museums and theater might bring in hoity-toity patrons and their cultural know-how, for me, it’s about the personal connection, the stories, the tangled web of life that art makes tangible. It’s this human element that most interests me. What makes us tick? What moves us, inspires us, makes us strive for tomorrow?

Artistic mediums fascinate me because of the people who create them, not because of the livability or financial gains such creative talent can generate. Let’s explore that, Denver. Artistic geniuses of the Mile High: we’re coming at ya.

Stephanie Richards is the art and culture editor for 303 Magazine. 

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