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Brower: How art and culture can be critical for restarting our economy

Patrick Brower, Grand Enterprise Initiative
Kate Moss plays in front of thousands at Hideaway Park in Winter Park during the 15th annual Blues From The Top Festival in summer 2017. It’s likely that live music and other large performances will return to Grand County later this year.
Sky-Hi News File photo

In the last nine years of working with aspiring entrepreneurs in Grand County I’ve discovered that one area where Grand County is seeing lots of activity is in the realm of arts and culture.

The pandemic, sadly, has put a lot of the energy in those realms on hold. Live music has been greatly curtailed if not stopped altogether. Live dramatic performances were nixed and visual arts have been selling, but it seems the buying world is obsessed with other issues.

That’s all going to change later this year as people will be able to gather again and performance art will re-blossom.



I know, people don’t usually think of Grand County and its towns as a place to go for people searching for the latest in fashion, drama, the visual arts and music. Granted, this is not Santa Fe, New Mexico, which is one of the largest art markets in the world.

But we are getting there, little step by little step.



There are several examples in the realm of music. Winter Park has been home to a brand new, world-class, destination recording studio that is owned and operated by Tony Rossaci and recording engineer and musician P. J. Olsson. This studio is getting to be a draw for the best talent in America and is likely to grow into a place as the springboard for a high-quality, music based culture in Grand County.

Then there’s the series of concerts featuring world-class rock and jazz talent offered in the brand new recording venue in Hideaway Park in Winter Park. These shows, such as the Winter Park Jazz Festival, drew the best talent (and large crowds) to Winter Park and Grand County. When and if these return, it will be with a new burst of energy. Get ready.

The Grand County Concert Series, which has plugged away for years bringing world-class talent to the county in the realm of classical music, refreshed the ears of locals and visitors every winter. I think it will return next year.

On the local level, a range of concerts in the parks in Fraser, Grand Lake, Winter Park and Kremmling have all drawn outside artists and nurtured local musical artists right here in our county.

And we can’t forget the Grand County Blues Society in its efforts to bring live music to Grand County in a longstanding tradition of support for one of America’s unique art forms.

Local bars and restaurants, such as the Crooked Creek Saloon in Fraser and Ullr’s in Winter Park, as well as venues in Grand Lake and Granby, also step up to present live music, frequently by local artists.

Yes, World, there will be a music scene in Grand County.

In the realm of visual arts, there’s a growing market for artists to sell their work in Grand County. Art galleries in Grand Lake and Winter Park, featuring more than just paintings and photography, create an expanding venue for people interested in seeing our beautiful Grand County world through an artist’s eyes.

We also have a vibrant crafting and quilting scene that provides art of a different stripe for visitors and locals alike.

Why is such a cultural scene important? First, because it provides uplifting diversions for visitors and locals in Grand County. The pursuit and performance of art is an amenity for the county in and of itself. But aside from the diversion factor, a cultural scene shows that the county has a life that is well-considered and worth interpretation in a variety of ways.

Grand County Economic Development Director DiAnn Butler is working on unifying these cultural efforts and hoping to bring a state-sanctioned cultural district designation to the county along with a supported and housed artistic community in Grand Lake. Fraser is embarking on its own arts center.

Yes, it’s difficult to beat the natural visual beauty of Grand County, but through art and music the world can appreciate this place through unique and varied perspectives.

This is valuable to visitors and locals, which is a win-win for businesses and our community. As we snap out of the pandemic, this arts scene will be critical to the revitalization of our economy.

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He provides free and confidential business management coaching for anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached at 970-531-0632 or at patrickbrower@kapoks.org.


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