Creative activities relieve stress, aid communication and boost self-discovery and self-esteem, according to research. So perhaps it would benefit everyone to take a break from all that work and act like Picasso, who said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
All throughout Colorado are spaces designed to showcase visual and performing arts. Gaby Strnad, associate creative director for ACCESS Destination Services, says, “A city’s art scene speaks a lot about the people and culture of that place, so really what better way to experience the destination?”
There’s another benefit to choosing one of these sites. Nicole Marsh, partner with Imprint Events Group says, “Art venues require very little in added elements and expense such as décor because they are already built into the venue.”
Here are some inspired ideas for your planning team and group.
Denver’s Golden Triangle Creative District is a neighborhood defined by galleries and museums, including the Denver Art Museum (DAM), Clyfford Still Museum and Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art.
DAM’s most coveted space for events, the El Pomar and Second Floor Atrium, can accommodate up to 600 guests for receptions and 225 seated. Reflecting the exterior architecture of the Hamilton Building, it’s a futuristic space with sloping white walls, black granite floors and a sweeping staircase—all of which can be highlighted with colored lights for added impact. There’s also a 266-seat auditorium, along with a boardroom with seating for 50. Watch for totally renovated spaces at the North Building and brand-new options being unveiled at the Anna and John J. Sie Welcome Center upon the completion of construction in 2021.
Planners can buy out the Clyfford Still Museum for 200 attendees (300 when weather permits patio use) and Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art, which accommodates 200. Both museums are named for visionary and genre-bending artists. The Still features 95 percent of the artist’s paintings, which makes it the most intact body of work by any major artist. The Kirkland features not only painter Vance Kirkland’s curious and colorful canvasses, but also decorative objects from around the world including a Charles Rennie Mackintosh chair and a Frank Lloyd Wright leaded glass window.
To frame the experience, book guest rooms and meeting space at the ART, a hotel. There you’ll find five different meeting spaces, including a 3,145-square-foot ballroom, and an ample art collection that features a work by Kirkland.
When Performance Is Key
The Mile High City also is proud of its Denver Performing Arts Complex, a 12-acre site that’s the largest of its kind under one roof. With 10 performance areas, there are myriad venue options totaling 20,000 square feet that range from outdoor spaces to curtained theaters.
If it’s performance you’re striving for, consider some of the state’s other performing arts venues such as Telluride’s Sheridan Opera House, which can accommodate up to 265 people. This historic theater boasts original woodwork and a dance floor, art nouveau stenciling and a century-old painted curtain.
Two “black box” spaces can be customized for performance and audience size at the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center. This facility features three stages, classrooms and rotating art exhibits and is ideal for smaller groups of 40 or less.
Planners can choose from multiple venue configurations at Strings Music Pavilion in Steamboat Springs. This distinct venue seats 569 for a performance and 250 for a dinner, with most vantage points providing sweeping views of the Yampa Valley. It also features a bowstring-truss timber roof and retractable glass doors.
Art Front & Center
Many Colorado towns have dedicated centers or districts for the arts that allow residents and visitors alike to tap into that region’s creativity. Breckenridge Arts District is a campus of renovated historic mining structures that function as studio spaces. Three of these are ideal for team-building activities for groups ranging from 10 to 50. Nearby, Breckenridge Theater has 137 seats; the Riverwalk Center is a 750-seat indoor performance venue with pitched removable seating and glass doors that open onto a lawn; and the Speakeasy Theater, is a newly renovated, 150-seat movie house.
After a campaign that raised $18 million, Center for the Arts Crested Butte is nearing completion of its new 38,000-square-foot building. It’s phase one of a two-part plan that also include renovating the original structure. The addition houses the Kinder-Padon Gallery, an art studio, community room, theatre, dance studios, and numerous multipurpose rooms.
The 5-acre, 53-year-old Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Snowmass offers a customized experience in eight different artistic mediums. The 1,728-square-foot Schermer Meeting Hall is available to rent during the day or at night on a case-by-case basis.
Sangre de Cristo Arts & Conference Center in Pueblo features a three-building complex. On campus find venues such as the 500-seat Arts Center Theater and the boardroom at the Helen T. White Galleries, which has a maximum capacity of 35. If families are participating, the facility’s Buell Children’s Museum has been dubbed the second-best museum for art in the nation by Child magazine.
Galleries are essentially gatherings of art and can be perfect venues for assembling people as well. Rembrandt Yard, in downtown Boulder just one block from Pearl Street, features a flexible space with movable walls and a variety of seating configurations. It boasts high windows with views of downtown and the Flatirons.
Situated in a 1970s warehouse in Denver’s River North Arts District (RiNo), Helikon Gallery & Studios still has the original steel roof. Inside, you’ll find a 1,400-square-foot main gallery that features a balcony and a glass garage door. Helikon also houses the 400-square-foot Gallery 101, which is perfect for smaller groups.
In the Santa Fe Art District, SPACE Gallery offers a 4,000-square-foot contemporary indoor space combined with a 3,000-square-foot outdoor sculpture garden. Groups can add on a stroll during the First Friday Art Walk, a lively monthly event where many types of artwork are on display in galleries, studios, alleys and even the streets.
For Art’s Sake
While there are plenty of picturesque venues, there other creative addons. Marsh says, “We love adding to the built-in exhibits with unique entertainment that has an art focus or flair, such as a live painter, speed painter or chalk artist.” Imprint Events Group has commissioned artists to create a logo or image for an event, and then had them paint or draw it again live. They’ve also displayed an oversized “paint by number” graphic that guests are invited to color during the event.
Even food and drink can be tied to the art theme. Imprint Events Group has set up paint-your-own barbecue wings and spin-art cupcake stations and created artwork made from framed adult-beverage containers for a pour-your-own drink station.
Strnad has timed client meetings and events to coincide with Denver Chalk Festival and CRUSH Walls, Denver’s urban art festival that focuses on graffiti. Participants then created graffiti coasters to take home.
A visual arts theme also pairs well with Upstairs Circus. These DIY spaces, located in Lower Downtown (LoDo) and Denver Tech Center, can either bring their maker menu to you or groups can book either of the 1,500-square-foot locations. Attendees choose from a selection of 30 projects that include wine bottle tumblers, leather pet collars, urban silhouette art and more.
If your emphasis is on performing arts, you might consider a teambuilding improv session or even cosplay, where attendees dress up in costumes and act out parts. These unique and comedic add-ons draw even the shyest and most introverted out of their shells.
ACCESS has found another creative way to tie in meetings at places like Red Rocks Amphitheatre or an opera house. Staff hired a live local band to recreate the song-guessing app Shazam, and then followed up with a rocking trivia contest. For an event at Ellie Caulkins Opera House, ACCESS brought in roaming ballerinas to mimic the space’s statues of dancers.
Crafting creative meetings and events is an art. “Clients these days are looking for interactive experiences, where their guests can create a memory to share with others,” Marsh says. “Artsy venues—and the addition of hands-on activities or unique entertainment—create just that.”