100 Colorado Creatives: Lisa Gedgaudas

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#27: Lisa Gedgaudas

Lisa Gedgaudas works behind the scenes as program director for Create Denver: While we enjoy the evidence of her efforts in art exhibits at the McNichols Building and public forums like the recent Denver Music Summit, she's running the numbers on who's out there in the local creative world, what they're doing and what it might take to keep them here, with success, in Denver. But she's also an artist herself in an administrative role, lending support to other artists, and that's a powerful combination. How does she keep the balance? We got some answers from Gedgaudas via her 100CC questionnaire, which follows.

See also: 100 Colorado Creatives: Derrick Velasquez

If you could collaborate with anyone in history, who would it be, and why?

As a painter, I understand that the language of abstract art forms rely greatly on composition. What would we get if we put Jonas Mekas (the godfather of avant-garde filmmaking), abstract painter Mark Rothko and poet ee cummings into a studio together for a few months? I wouldn't mind stepping back in time and composing a collaboration with these three. What could we find, with great conversation, collaboration and some time?

Who in the world is interesting to you right now, and why?

One of the most inspiring organizations that we have partnered with is Creative Capital out of New York City. The nonprofit organization develops adventurous and imaginative ideas by supporting artists who pursue innovation in form and/or content in the performing and visual arts, film and video, and in emerging fields. Their pioneering model and commitment to working in partnership with artists (that also teach artists) is something Create Denver continues to strive for.

What's one art trend you want to see die this year?

None of them. Whatever they may be or have been, they had you talking, thinking and maybe even inspired a trajectory in you to make something (instead of, faster than, sexier than, quieter than, more funny than, simpler than).

What's your day job?

To know who the creatives are in Denver and understand what they need to be successful. I work out of the recently opened McNichols Building as program administrator of the Create Denver initiative through our city agency, Denver Arts & Venues, and I've been given an opportunity to understand more about our creative sector, harness it and to help it thrive. In 2006, when our now Deputy Director, Ginger White Brunetti, started the initiative under the Hickenlooper administration, Denver's artists and enterprises such as film, music, fine art, galleries, art districts, and fashion and design where overdue for recognition and city support. The support we provide now includes business development resources, a revolving loan fund for creatives, research including the Creative Vitality Index (CVI), ongoing collaborations that share in dialog and deliberate connections across sectors, as well as experimentation in programs and the showcasing of local talent.

Create Denver can play a vital role in recognizing our local arts and cultural assets and providing a greater platform for creatives to live, work and play (and stay) in Denver. 

Continue reading for more from Lisa Gedgaudas. A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

Without hesitation, help fund arts education opportunities in and outside of the classroom. Integrating arts into schools and everyday life is important because it reveals the common connections we all share with arts and culture. There are models that strive to integrate such concepts, including Generation Schools, where they say, "The city becomes the classroom," and where the students can explore a wide variety of real-life examples and draw connections between, say, science and public art. 

What's the one thing Denver could do to help the arts?

To get every artist and creative enterprise in Denver counted. Going back to recognizing what our community's arts and cultural assets are key to economic vitality within the sector and throughout the city. Denver continues to have a vibrant creative economy locally, regionally and nationally. Through the Creative Vitality Index findings from 2012, 186 non-profit arts and arts-active organizations in Denver generated more than $360 million in revenue. There were also more than 19,000 jobs within the creative occupations in Denver. Interestingly, the fastest growing occupations between 2011 and 2012 were music, audio and design workers, and finally, artists and galleries, all of whom contributed substantial revenues to the economy.

Create Denver will strive to take a closer look into (all parts of) this sector, and create techniques to capture additional industry and occupational employment data for those that may not have been included in this report. By doing this, we create a closer partnership with our community, support their true needs, while also capture the people and stories that bring our city to life.

Who is your favorite Colorado Creative?

A trick question, too many to speak of. Most recently, Patrick Marold was the guest speaker for the latest convening of Creative Mornings Denver themed "Make," and I left feeling excited and anxious to create something immediately. Known for his simplistic aesthetic, Marold, a public artist and Denver native, has worked creating sculpture and installations for over ten years. He shared his works with us and his process around the idea of making: "I feel the need to make...I think making fulfills an important need in our lives." Whether we are making coffee or composing a song, he reminds us to pay more attention to our environment and how we can respond to it. Keep an eye on his next public art, outdoor commission at Denver International Airport.

Continue reading for more from Lisa Gedgaudas. What's on your agenda for the rest of 2013 and beyond?

We just wrapped up the successful Denver Music Summit, with our partners IMTour and WESTAF, that illuminated dialogue and ideas for the future of music, and brought together independent musicians, policy makers and enthusiasts at-large.

For 2014 and beyond, Create Denver is excited to embark more on the economics of Denver's creative economy. By uncovering and understanding who these people are, we can then share their stories, catalyze economic growth and collaboration, fill in gaps and possibly inform larger city-planning efforts that could provide infrastructure to support the sector long-term. 

We will continue to support the development of new businesses through our NxLevel for Creatives courses with Metro Denver SBDC, the Revolving Loan Fund, strategic support for our art districts, as well as showcasing Denver's thriving creatives through exhibitions at the McNichols Building and a few other new programs that I'm excited to share in 2014.

Denver Arts & Venues is leading the public process to creat a cultural plan to further define and guide the city's artistic, cultural development. Get yourselves ready in 2014 for director Kent Rice's and department director Ginger White Brunetti's release of the Imagine 2020, Denver Cultural Plan. 

Who do you think will get noticed in the local arts community in 2014?

Seeing that the year is almost over, I'd say that there are a number of emerging projects, programs, artists and art enterprises to keep an eye on. Looking back at the top 100 list, so many of them have been brought to light, including Eric Dallimore and his artistic ventures and Leon Gallery; Evan Weismann, who forged the civic health club, Warm Cookies of the Revolution; Brian Corrigan's and Wonderbound's heroic wins for receiving grants from ArtPlace' a favored writer, John Moore, who recently became the associate director of content strategy at the DCPA. Did you catch the latest on our Denver urban-artist influence in Miami? These paired with our ever-growing art districts and comedy, music and film scenes, Denver's secret sauce tends to not just be the one pioneer, but the many that come together to yield creative waves.

And keep your ears and eyes on Chloe Veltman, our new Arts Editor for Colorado Public Radio who will be standing among us and sharing the stories of our city's best assets.

Visit Create Denver online for more information about events and programs.

Throughout the year, we'll be shining the spotlight on 100 superstars from Denver's rich creative community. Stay tuned to Show and Tell for more, or visit the 100 Colorado Creatives archive to catch up.

Do you have a suggestion for a future profile? Feel free to leave your picks in the comments.

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