How art and culture can be critical for a tourist-based economy |

How art and culture can be critical for a tourist-based economy

In the last five 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.

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, the visual arts and music. Granted, this is not Santa Fe, N.M., 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 is now home to a brand new, world-class, destination recording studio that is owned and operated by Tony Rossaci and recording engineer and musician Pj Olsson. This studio will 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, draw the best talent (and large crowds) to Winter Park and Grand County.

The Grand County Concert Series, which has plugged away for years bringing world-class talent to the county in the realm of classical music, continues to refresh the ears of locals and visitors every winter.

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, also step up to present live music, frequently by local artists.

Yes, World, there is a music scene in Grand County.

In the realm of visual arts, the Kremmling artists’ co-op (the Gore Range Artisans Group) has presented a classy venue for artists to show off their unique work.

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.

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.

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

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