Peak Arts Prize public voting open through March 11


Jenny Maloney and Taylor Geiman's short film series is one of nine arts projects vying for the Peak Arts Prize People's Choice award. - JENNY MALONEY
  • Jenny Maloney
  • Jenny Maloney and Taylor Geiman's short film series is one of nine arts projects vying for the Peak Arts Prize People's Choice award.

The Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region (COPPeR) and Pikes Peak Community Foundation (PPCF) are once again holding their annual Peak Arts Prize grant competition; this time with a slightly revamped format.

“Arts funding is fairly scarce in our community,” says COPPeR's deputy director Angela Seals, program coordinator of the Peak Arts Prize, “but everyone wants to live in a vibrant and exciting place with things to do. Programs like Peak Arts Prize help to seed more creative vitality here, and that's critical as our community grows.”

So starting in 2018, the two organizations teamed up in order to make financial support more accessible to artists. Through the Peak Arts Prize grant, artists from across the Pikes Peak region are able to compete for prize money that can help support their artistic projects. Peak Arts Prize offers four different prizes in four different categories:

• Large organizations receive a $10,000 grant
• Small organizations receive a $7,5000 grant
• Individual artists receive a $4,000 grant
• The People's Choice receives a $1,000 grant

Though Peak Arts Prize was originally established on the idea of the public vote, 2020 is the first year that a committee has chosen the winners in the first three categories. The program introduced a People’s Choice category so the public may still direct the flow of a portion of the prize’s grant dollars. At, members of the public can view the applicants’ submission videos and vote on their favorites until March 11 at noon.

MYTHICO, a circus-inspired retelling of classic mythology, is also up for the big prize. - EMILY WEGERT
  • Emily Wegert
  • MYTHICO, a circus-inspired retelling of classic mythology, is also up for the big prize.

The People’s Choice category is set up so that individuals in the region can vote for a project that they are especially interested in. The winner of this prize will receive $1,000, or — if the committee has awarded them with a grant already — add an additional grand to what they have won. Needless to say, with such a wide array of fascinating new projects worth funding, it will be difficult to decide upon which one to vote for. Such as the stage show MYTHICO, by producer Emily Wegert. This show, which sold out of all its performances for its first run last year at the Millibo Art Theatre, is a combination of various live performance styles (dance, martial arts, acrobatics, drama and aerobatics among them) used to visually retell a series of different Greek myths in a circus-esque aesthetic.

And then there is also the “365 Little Stories”, a short film project put together by local writer Jenny Maloney in collaboration with local filmmaker Taylor Geiman. For this project, 20 short films will be produced based on short, 100-word stories that Maloney has written as a personal challenge that she undertook starting in the year 2016. The stories primarily revolve around her experiences as a woman, and what she has observed throughout the #MeToo era; but also delve into topics such as gun control and other social issues.
Previous winners of these prizes include “Creativity Labs” by the small arts organization The Unsteady Hand. The program was set up for people with Parkinson's Disease, so that they could have better access to creative and artistic outlets. Another previous winner was “A Farewell to Bees”, an art exhibit held at Art 111 and organized by artist Thom Phelps to raise public awareness of the looming threat of bee extinction. One of the most notable pieces shown at the exhibit was a large sculpture of a dead bee by Phelps himself.

So where did all this money for the arts come from? It’s quite a remarkable story. The Fund for the Arts was founded by PPCF in 2005 after local philanthropists Carl and Edith Ellyas left their estate to the Foundation in order to better fund the arts.

Edith Ellyas was born in 1923, and barely saved her own life and the life of her young daughter by escaping from Germany after the death of her husband during the second World War. They fled to Poland where, tragically, Edith’s daughter passed away after she was taken to a hospital that burned down that same night. After having lost both her husband and daughter to the miseries of war, Edith made her way to the United States, eventually settling here in Colorado Springs. Edith and her second husband, Carl, were both passionate about the arts.

“This year our top nine projects are all really dynamic and exciting opportunities for these artists to scale their work to a larger presence in our region,” said Seals “Across the top nine, you'll see that all of the projects build something new or something great into something bigger to amplify local art.”

While voting on the Peak Arts Prize website, folks can also donate independently to projects that inspire them

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