Arts and Culture

MCA Denver seeking entries for holiday performance contest (no explosives, please)

The Denver Museum of Contemporary Art Denver will celebrate the holiday season by hosting twelve and a half days of artistic performances in its sleek atrium. What sets the Twelve and a Half Days of Xmas Live! series apart from the MCA's other programs is that the performers will be chosen from an open call for entry and the applicants will be competing for a $500 prize. To learn more about the concept, Westword caught up with Sarah Kate Baie, MCA Denver's director of programming and chief of fictions, to discuss the contest rules, reaching out to the local creative community and Denver's puppeteering scene.

See also: The Museum of Contemporary Art Denver opens its doors.

Westword: Is this the first year that MCA is hosting Twelve and a Half Days of Xmas Live?

Sarah Kate Baie: Yes, we started this year with the new program. We're launching December 20 and we'll run through January.

Where did you get the idea to host performance art here?

It's part of what we do in general, part of what our program component is at the museum. So in addition to the exhibitions that we have, of course, we also have an ambitious programming calendar that runs throughout the year, including Mixed Taste in the summertime, which is sort of our flagship summer series. We bring together two lecturers, and they each speak on two different topics; then they take questions and answers at the same time. In addition to that, we were interested in finding different ways to connect to creativity in our area. Ideally, we're looking for a wide range of performers. We're looking for musicians, performance artists, dancers and things we haven't even thought about. Like puppeteers.

What kind of puppets? Not ventriloquists, I hope?

No, it's mostly like marionette-style. We haven't seen any ventriloquists yet. I'll be honest, ventriloquists scare me.

Ventriloquist dummies are inherently creepy. Anyway, how do you currently connect with local performers?

One of the ways we connect with local performers is through our Black Sheep Fridays program, which is going on right now in our cafe. It's a similar kind of thing where we curate twelve Friday night programs with local creative people. Last week we did "Debating for Guffman," where two teams of comedians debated Waiting for Guffman versus Waiting for Godot. Taylor Gonda was part of that. These are the kinds of ways that we're already connecting to the Denver community with creativity, but we wanted to create other spaces to showcase the abundant creativity that's in the region. Maybe some that we don't know about. So rather than create another event like Black Sheep, where we start with people who we know, people who we're sure will know what they're doing, we thought we'd do a program with an open call for entries as a way to get to know some people who are maybe outside of our circle. Maybe they're just starting up, or maybe they're doing things that we would have never even thought about.

Have you had many entries so far?

Yeah, we've had a pretty good response so far. From a lot of people we don't know and people who have some really crazy, fun ideas.
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Byron Graham is a writer, comedian and gentleman thief from Denver. Co-host of Designated Drunkard: A Comedy Drinking Game, the deathless Lion's Lair open mic and the Mutiny Book Club podcast, Byron also writes about comedy for Westword. He cannot abide cowardice, and he's never been defeated in an open duel.
Contact: Byron Graham

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