Colorado College President Jill Tiefenthaler and Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center President and CEO David Dahlin today announced an historic alliance between the two institutions that signals the re-envisioning and redefining of both organizations’ contributions to the arts in the region. The partnership supports the missions of both organizations while expanding innovative learning opportunities, arts programming and cultural resources for the greater Colorado Springs community. Today’s announcement marks the signing of legal documents by both organizations.
“The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center is a cultural gem, and I’m excited about the immense possibilities this alliance presents for all involved,” Tiefenthaler said. “I look forward to rolling up our sleeves and working to create the most innovative, dynamic and vibrant organization possible. I plan to actively seek community input as together we envision the amazing future potential of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.”
“I’m thrilled to help create a strong and vibrant future for the Fine Arts Center that will enable it to thrive and build upon its legacy for another 100 years,” Dahlin said. “This is truly a win-win-win agreement benefiting the FAC, CC and the entire community.”
Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers praised the affiliation. “This partnership, which brings together two of our most prominent institutions in arts and higher education, is something we should all look to as an example of innovative, collaborative future-building,” he said. “We all benefit as a community from the expanded and dynamic possibilities this represents in our arts, culture and education sectors.”
For nearly 100 years, the two institutions have collaborated in a variety of important ways. This includes the FAC serving as the college’s de facto art department in the 1920s–1940s, co-hosting an annual Conference on Fine Arts in the 1930s, collaborating on shared programming and exhibitions throughout the decades, and the recent gift in 2015 of the FAC’s extensive art publication archives to the Tutt Library at Colorado College.
The goal of the alliance goes beyond merging two existing organizations: It seeks to create something new, ground-breaking and forward-looking, leaders of both institutions say. The partnership produces an operational structure that achieves key Colorado College and Fine Arts Center strategic objectives while helping to create long-term sustainability for the Fine Arts Center and solidifying a community goal of a sustainable, ongoing commitment to community fine arts programming. The result will be expanded community offerings and enriched student experiences. Tiefenthaler envisions a year of planning before implementing changes. “We want to hear from those who are committed to the Fine Arts Center as well as bring in new voices,” she said. A series of three listening sessions, open to the community, are planned:
• Sept. 8, 7:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room
• Sept. 14, 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., CC’s Packard Performance Hall
• Sept. 26, 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Fine Arts Center Music Room
Philanthropic leaders in the Colorado Springs community have pledged their support to this game-changing partnership. “Over the last couple of years, the Fine Arts Center has generated such great programming and great enthusiasm. Yet without public funding, there has been a long-term concern about its sustainability,” said longtime FAC supporter Margot Lane. “It has been imperative to find a bold, long-term, strategic solution. This union with Colorado College represents an innovative collaboration that I hope to see more of in our community. The Lane Foundation looks forward to committing significant financial resources to support this alliance.” Kathy Loo and Jim Raughton, local philanthropists and long-term patrons of the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, have pledged an undisclosed amount to build the endowment to support the Fine Arts Center into the future. “We have a deep love for the Fine Arts Center, its past, its present and its future. We are excited about the sustainability that this alliance has created for our community’s signature arts institution and we are committed to see it succeed,” Loo said.
Alliances between institutions of higher education and nonprofit cultural institutions are an increasingly common model. Many liberal arts colleges and universities have alliances with museums, including Yale University, Harvard University, Williams College, Colby College, Smith College and Amherst College. Others have joined forces with professional theaters such as the American Repertory Theatre at Harvard University, the Syracuse Stage and Syracuse University, Brown University and the Trinity Repertory Theatre. The model is advantageous for both partners, as it allows for additional cultural programming and educational resources, new avenues of fundraising and greater community impact and outreach. Additionally, cultural institutions can cut costs as part of the affiliation with the college or university through shared services. “Noncommercial arts will require the prestige and refuge” of higher-ed institutions, the president of Bard College said when Bard acquired the Longy School of Music in 2011.
The president of the Academy of Natural Sciences, which became part of Drexel University in Philadelphia five years ago, said colleges and universities are ideally suited for such partnerships, noting that “they tend to think about collaboration generally and comprehensively.”
The agreement between Colorado College and the Fine Arts Center calls for a four-year transition period to allow for careful planning and integration. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will retain its current name until July 1, 2017, when it will become known as the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College. By July 1, 2020, the Fine Arts Center entity will be fully transferred to the college along with existing donor restrictions on the assets including the building and the art collection. The college will dedicate more than $20 million of its endowment for the ongoing support of the Fine Arts Center. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation will continue as a separate supporting foundation managing the existing FAC $13 million endowment for the mission of the Fine Arts Center at Colorado College.
“As president of both El Pomar Foundation and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation, I am pleased to see this alliance between the Fine Arts Center and Colorado College,” said Thayer Tutt. “Arts institutions around the country are finding that alliances with institutions of higher education create great programming synergies and long-term sustainability. This alliance will allow the Fine Arts Center to build upon its nearly 100-year legacy as the center of our arts community and to develop new initiatives that serve the academic mission of the college, all for the betterment of our region. The Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Foundation looks forward to working with Colorado College in the years to come to strengthen the bond between the college and the Pikes Peak community.”