Doors Open Denver returns -- with the Denver Architectural Foundation holding the door open

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Doors Open Denver will be back for its tenth-anniversary edition this weekend. "We've got everything the same and more of it," says event organizer Jane Potts. But one thing is different: Denver Arts & Venues has cut way back on its involvement. "The City is a sponsor again this year, but we're working to transition DOD to the Denver Architectural Foundation and its partners," explains Arts & Venues's Brian Kitts. See also: City closes the book on One Book, One Denver

Over the past couple of years, Arts & Venues had provided most of the marketing, a new website, grants and other support for Doors Open Denver, but last summer city officials met with the DAF board to let its members know that the city was taking a less active role. "We'll still provide access to city buildings, marketing support and staff advice," Kitts says. "The ideal for the agency is that the city provides a foundation for cool projects like Doors Open Denver and then the interested parties take over and continue to build on that. This is where Doors Open Denver is headed."

The new direction came as a surprise to event organizers, but they're moving ahead. "We were really disappointed, because Arts & Venues had done a lot in the past," says Potts. But the Denver Architectural Foundation has "really stepped up to make it happen."

And so on April 12 and 13, more than sixty buildings in Denver will be open for exploration; there will also be bike and walking tours. The theme this year is "Celebrate Neighborhood Architecture," but the organizers are also celebrating architects, with mini-lectures at the University of Colorado Denver and Oz Architects. You can find a full list of all addresses and activities at doorsopendenver.org.

Doors Open Denver is not the first arts program the city has backed away from. Arts & Venues also discontinued One Book, One Denver, which would have celebrated its tenth anniversary this year, keeping only the youth division. But Lighthouse Writers took up the torch by offering the National Endowment for the Arts's Big Read, which features Marilynne Robinson's PEN/Hemingway Award-winning novel Housekeeping.

"Doors Open Denver is a program that's growing, has some private/foundation groups to do some of the heavy lifting, and they're ready to move to a different level," explains Kitts. "One Book had declining support in a number of areas, and, particularly in the case of partners like the Denver Public Library, it felt like there was a shift toward more work with youth. Lighthouse's grant provides a new way to achieve similar program goals. Arts & Venues is supporting the Big Read, too, at about the same level as Doors."

Big Read activities continue through the month; for more information, go to lighthousewriters.org.

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