Colorado Creatives

Another 100 Colorado Creatives: Cecily Cullen

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What's your day job?

As creative director at the MSU Denver Center for Visual Art, my job is to present opportunities for MSU Denver to interact with the larger Denver community via contemporary art. To that end I research and organize exhibitions, develop programming, and mentor students in the process of curating, designing collateral and running an art center.

A mystery patron offers you unlimited funds for life. What will you do with it?

I would set out to incorporate art and design into the everyday. I would commission artists to create interventions throughout the city to surprise and instill wonder in those who encounter the work. Denver could benefit from tapping the minds of all the creative people here to improve the design of residential neighborhoods and business districts. Lack of intentional design aesthetic is always a missed opportunity and usually the result of misaligned priorities or a lack of appreciation. Spending some serious time traveling abroad, studying artists and communities that weave art and design into the fabric of the city would definitely be a part of the plan.

What's the one thing Denver (or Colorado) could do to help the arts?

There are many powerful initiatives happening now, like those of the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, a small-but-mighty force that does so much to promote the arts to the business community, and SCFD ,of course. But these efforts need to multiply, especially as the city swells in population. There are certainly things Denver and Colorado could do in an immediate sense to support artists, in the form of tax breaks, housing, grants and financial aid to make higher education less of a hardship, etc. But I think there is a fundamental issue in the U.S. that in general we do not value art and design.

We need to initiate a change of culture, starting with education. Colorado ranks at the low end of education spending in this country, and that has a negative impact on everyone in the state. When budgets are tight, and art is cut or seriously limited in schools, it sends a message that the city, state or school districts view art as a luxury and non-essential, rather than a vitally important form of communication and a means to nurture a population of people who can think critically and develop innovative solutions. We should be teaching by example and instilling the value of creativity in our youth. (Anne and Peter Thulson do this brilliantly with their summer camp, School of the Poetic City.)

Continue reading for more from Cecily Cullen.
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