The Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities tends to be taken for granted, in spite of its groundbreaking accomplishments. On the eve of its 25th anniversary, the Center is still a veritable beehive of cultural activity, where quality art exhibitions, theatrical presentations and concerts are par for the course year after year. But thirty years ago, it stood out -- the concept of a small community cultural center was then virtually unheard of in the metro area.
That began to change in the early '70s when Arvada schoolteacher Lois Lindstrom (now Kennedy) realized that her sixth-graders had no idea why their school was named "Secrest" (after an early Arvada pioneer) or why they were even living in Arvada, then a quiet farming community blossoming into a suburb. The upshot? She helped found the Arvada Historical Society and, in the midst of an attempt to create a history museum, became a member of the seminal committee that dreamed up the full-fledged Arvada Center.
"Arvada at that time could not support a separate museum, art gallery and auditorium -- we decided they all had to be combined," Kennedy recalls. "I felt that people who love history, art, music and drama are more alike than others, and if we all banded together, we could establish a small multidiscipline venue."
The rest is, well, history: As former Arvada mayor and fellow center supporter Vesta Miller notes, "We have become a cultural force in the metro area -- we draw people from all over the area as a result of the Arvada Center." But Miller, now chairing a group that hopes to create an overall cultural plan for the city of Arvada, still remembers that the original center was simply called the "Arvada Center," with no allusion made to its central purpose, when it ultimately opened in 1976.
"At the time, there was a feeling that the word 'culture' should be left out of the name," she says. "There was a fear that Arvada was not ready for a cultural center. As such, that was a mistake; I'm happy to announce we can now use the word 'cultural' without anyone complaining."
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