The Arts: Good For The Soul and The Economy

Kirkpatrick Bank has always encouraged our staff to serve on community boards. They do so on their own time and we support their commitment. We believe that non-profits benefit the community by providing jobs as well as filling service gaps and improving a community’s quality of life.  Arts organizations, in particular, provide events, activities and experiences that draw residents and visitors to visit, a key element in a healthy tourism industry.  

The pandemic dealt a crippling blow to the arts, with lost revenue (millions of dollars in most communities) and lost jobs (in the hundreds and thousands). Several analysts note that once thriving organizations are back to statistics not seen since the 1990’s. Recovery is estimated to take the next three to five years, and this only if significant philanthropic leadership and vision occurs.

As President and CEO, I practice what I preach and have been afforded the opportunity to serve on various boards. One of these is the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, which operates in the two states where the Bank also has a presence, Oklahoma and Colorado. In Oklahoma, the Fund recently pledged $1 million over three years to “restart the arts” in central Oklahoma. Kirkpatrick Family Fund President, Christian Keesee was quoted as saying, “As we emerge out of a pandemic year, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund is committed to helping restore the educational, visual, and performing arts that are vital to a thriving society and economy.”

In Colorado, the Kirkpatrick Family Fund has fostered the development and growth of the Green Mountain Falls Arts Festival over the past decade. The Kirkpatrick family has multi-generational roots in this little town just 10 miles west of Colorado Springs. Christian Keesee, his partner Larry Keigwin and his son Blake Keesee co-founded the festival as a means to connect with and participate in the community. It has remained true to its focus on the preservation and celebration of the community. The Festival brings both national and local artists and performances to the community in the same spirit. The growth in community partners has included groups like the Manitou Springs School District 14, Ormao Dance Company and the Church in the Wildwood. Additionally it has hosted 12 artists-in-residence from the American Ballet Theatre. The troupe performed a world-premiere ballet created during their stay in a venue so small and intimate that performers and members of the audience saw each other face-to-face, an extraordinarily powerful experience.  As well, the Historic Green Mountain Falls Foundation commissioned an installation by world renowned artist, James Turrell called The Skyspace. The town annexed part of the mountain property to secure the site.  It is the first permanent Turrell installation in the state and the first on the side of a mountain. Visitors must hike to reach it, which becomes part of the experience.  

I applaud the staff and my fellow Board colleagues at the Kirkpatrick Family Fund for these bold initiatives in both states to restart the arts and to support the economic well-being of our communities.