Denver has a winning reputation — and not just because of the Denver Broncos. This city's arts scene is renowned across the country, and for our annual Winter Arts Guide, we asked a dozen people intrinsic to that scene a few questions about the state of the arts in Denver. Here are the responses from Chip Walton, who founded Curious Theatre Company eighteen years ago and remains its producing director:
Westword: What are three things any newcomer to Denver should know about the arts scene?
Chip Walton: First, that there is a deep and talented community of local artists, and your support of their work goes a long way — be it local bands, local theaters or local visual artists. Second, much of the local art that you’ll experience is nationally recognized and as good as anything you’ll find on either coast. And finally, while we have some world-class big arts organizations here in Denver, we also have an incredible assortment of small- and mid-sized arts organizations — so be adventurous!
What developments on the arts scene are you excited about this year?
I’m really excited about the work that the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation is doing in our community to support the arts in Denver. At a time when several other local foundations have regrettably shifted their support away from the arts and culture, the Bonfils-Stanton Foundation has focused the entirety of its giving to Denver-area arts organizations.
What’s exciting at your own organization/institution?
We’re in the midst of a pretty exciting and groundbreaking programming initiative called Serial Storytelling. This is our effort to explore in the world of live theater what we’re all experiencing in television — our own equivalent of series like American Crime and Breaking Bad, featuring some of the most exciting playwrights in American theater. Our next cycle of plays is the Elliot Plays, by Quiara Alegria Hudes, starting in March, and we’ll be the first theater anywhere in the world to produce all three plays!
How are you working to grow your audience?
We recently went through a major organizational change, moving away from “selling tickets” and toward creating a more robust overall patron experience. It’s our feeling that audiences today are looking for real relationships with arts organizations — not just transactions. And because of the kind of thought-provoking work that we produce at Curious, we have the opportunity to deepen and extend our patrons’ experiences beyond just the plays that they see on stage. So we really believe that growing our patron experience will in turn grow our audience. Find out more about Chip Walton and Curious Theatre Company here.