Arts and Culture

Boulder Arts Week Demonstrates Depth and Diversity

"Boulder is a beautiful city that is focused on the outdoors, and beer, and food. And there’s a lot of really great people who don’t know how much really great work in the arts there is to go to in their town,” says Emily K. Harrison, who is spearheading Boulder Arts Week, which returns for its second year on March 27.

A multi-tasking powerhouse who writes, directs, acts, produces, teaches and runs her own award-winning theater company, Harrison coordinated Boulder Arts Week as a conceptual umbrella, under which the broadest possible range of arts endeavors in the area are collected. The week will include theater, ballet, classical music, jazz, modern dance, film, lectures, workshops, demonstrations, poetry, pottery, sculpture, painting and even a free sing-a-long performance of Jesus Christ Superstar on March 29. “We have the seventh-highest concentration of artists in the nation, so many amazing innovative artists making their mark here,” she says. As an inclusive, non-producing entity, Boulder Arts Week does not curate or certify participants and there  is no entry fee; those involved received the benefits of a shared marketing platform, but are otherwise responsible for producing and marketing their work.

But there are definite benefits to being part of Boulder Arts Week, including  informational events held throughout the year to help artists learn how to employ best practices in marketing and promoting their work in post-print society. The old mechanisms of cultural conversation are vanishing, Harrison notes; she wants to put the right tools for survival in artists’ hands. A masterful Presenter Tool Kit helps entrants with top-notch promotional guidelines. (The website for Boulder Arts Week is also a model of clarity and user friendliness.) 

Another service Boulder Arts Week provides is matchmaking between artists and local business owners, many of whom are adventurous and fun-loving enough to allow event staging in their spaces.In a town where there is no central, designated arts destination, it can be difficult to build a sense of community. The week’s events take place all over the city, an adaptation to necessity also practiced by other large-scale local arts events, such as Boulder Open Studios and the Boulder International Fringe Festival. 

Boulder Arts Week will offer three tentpole events that gather artists and audiences alike. The opening party on March 27 at the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art will feature a live performance by Kristen Hatgi Sink and Jillian FitzMaurice, as well as a preview of the upcoming week's programming featuring more than a dozen other artists. On Thursday, April 2, the Celebration of the Arts fundraiser will feature multiple musicians, including Boulder's School of Rock House band, in the future home of the Museum of Boulder. The closing night party on April 4 will wrap things up at the Dairy Center for the Arts.

Harrison’s efforts are getting the backing of all the right elements – civic, business, and media forces (including a Westword sponsorship). Last year’s Boulder Arts Week drew more than 14,000 patrons to 400 events featuring upwards of  750 participating artists — and Harrison thinks the event will only get bigger. “If we can just bring awareness to this one week, we can really ignite people,” she says. “After this, people will be able to say, ‘Oh, yeah, there’s stuff to do here!’”

Boulder Arts Week runs from March 27 through April 4;  For a complete guide to the events, please visit

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Brad Weismann became an award-winning writer and editor after spending years as a comedian. He's written about everything from grand opera to movies for a diverse array of magazines, newspapers and websites worldwide.