MCA Denver is now free for kids under eighteen, thanks to the Merage Foundation

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As of July 1, anyone eighteen and under can get into Museum of Contemporary Art Denver for free thanks to a new initiative in partnership with David and Laura Merage of the David and Laura Merage Foundation.

"The partnership is designed to give Denver's teenagers access to the art that the museum has to offer, as well as increase opportunities for young people to experience the magic and wonder of the museum free of charge," MCA program director Sarah Baie says.

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"Our commitment to teenage patrons of the museum is something we take very seriously at MCA Denver. We believe teenagers, like artists, are interested in challenging conventions and questioning the rules," said Sarah Kate Baie. "In providing teens a safe place to express themselves and connect with art, we hope to encourage them to stay in school, succeed in school and succeed in life."

The museum is now the only institution of its kind in the city where kids don't have to pay for entry.

The cost of the move is being underwritten by The Merage Foundation, which was founded by David and Laura Merage. David and his brother Paul created Chef America Inc., the former manufacturer of Hot Pockets, which they sold to Nestle in 2002 for $2.6 billion. Afterward, David and Laura decided to devote much of their time to philanthropy.

"This is about absorbing new experiences, opening new doors and discovering new things that would otherwise not be discovered," says David Merage.

As part of the initiative, MCA Denver will hold a series of events in August that are created by teenagers and designed by teenagers. They'll be organized by the students who participate in MCA's internship program. (That program, called the "Failure Lab," is so named because it "provides a safe place for teenagers to experiment with art, take great risks and try out wild ideas," according to the museum.)

"We worked on this new initiative with the Foundation for about a year," says Ama Mills-Robertson, the MCA's manager of programming. "The grant supports teen and youth access to MCA Denver and marketing effort to build this constituency."

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