Colorado.FM Interview with Becca Spiro of BreckCreate
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In this episode, I had a chance to travel to Breckenridge to sit down and chat with Becca Spiro, Director of Learning and Engagement at Breckenridge Creative Arts, also known when you see their facilities and events walking around town as Breck Create.
If you have wandered around Breckenridge, you’ve probably seen the Breck Create buildings in the middle of town which include artist studios, a theatre, the Masonic Hall, and many more.
I was curious what they were up to so reached out to Becca, and she was kind enough to take some time to explain a little more about the history of Breck Create and what the organization’s role in the town is, and some of her favorite events that they put on – some well known and others maybe less so.
And, of course, we’ll be sure to put any relevant links to find them or anyone else we talk about in the show notes.
Alright, so here we go, my conversation with Becca Spiro of Breckenridge Creative Arts, or BreckCreate.
Selected Links from the Episode
Connect with BreckCreate:
Everyone Doug Stetzer here and thanks for tuning back into Colorado FM the Colorado podcast.
So the next few episodes are super fun since I was literally able to take the show on the road and go visit some amazing people and companies and organizations across Colorado.
My road trip took me to Breckenridge Crested Butte raise Silverton and a nice big loop some cool stops in between some of these places I’d never actually been to before so that was awesome. And in typical fall Colorado fashion had all the seasons started off with some snow. Rain warm sun by the end to some great mountain biking and hiking it was absolutely amazing.Read More
Anyway my first stop was in Breckenridge and I had a chance to sit down and chat with Becca Sphero the director of learning and engagement at Breckenridge Creative Arts also known. When you see their facilities and events and signs walking around town as Breck create.
Now if you are one around Breckenridge you’ve probably seen the brick buildings in the middle of town which include arder studios and theater the old Masonic Hall on the main drag there and many more other facilities there which they’ve really fixed up beautifully and so I was curious what they’re up to and reached out to Becca. She was kind enough to take some time. Explain a little more about the history of brique create what the organization’s role in the town is. Some of her favorite events that they put on which is really great insight because you know some of them are. They’re more well-known ones but also she really gets into some other maybe less known events that she really enjoys So that was really fun to learn about.
Online and you can find them at Breck create dot org. And also on Instagram at Brick create. And of course is always you know we’ll put all the relevant links to find them in the show notes as well as anyone else we speak with or mention or any other resources that are helpful. So all right here we go.
My conversation with Becca Spiro of Breckenridge creative arts or Breck create.
- Becca thank you for making some time. This is actually. Normally I start off by saying thanks for coming over to the studio but I am doing one of my first ones on location so thanks for having me. Yeah. Thanks for coming in Breckenridge creative arts. All right. So you know we were catching up a little bit just before we started. And
one of the things we were speaking about was that BCA is actually relatively young. It was founded in 2014. And why don’t you just fill us in on what was going on before that and what was that transition going on whether it’s in the arts scene in Breckenridge or the town that kind of precipitated the need for for putting all of these assets together under one roof under the BCA Sure.
So around 2001 the town started renovating what is now the Arts District and there are these buildings on Main Street in Washington. And they were in pretty bad shape like falling over. So a lot of money went into the renovations and those happened between 2001 2008 and then you know we had this beautiful arts district but these facilities you know didn’t have anyone to manage them. So that’s actually kind of how it came into being. As more of like these Yeah facility managers and you know yeah we were just charged with part of these organizational partners that would animate the spaces and then it was kind of like loose like we had this in your operating budget from the town and the it just grew from there. And so yes come a pretty long way since then.
Right. So that’s interesting. So it started off like actually your word used earlier was just the landlords they were starting to put together all of these buildings you know put money into renovating it.
There must have been some kind of master plan behind why they would create this art center in town and I guess a lot of ski towns do invest in that and do have that kind of history right. But I guess Brecht was trying to just take it out to another level.
Yeah I guess so. So he kind of designated in the renovation of the campus.
Each of the buildings was designated for different media. So we have a ceramics studio and a hot shop and a theater textiles and print making all of this on a color we are now is kind of our one of our exhibition spaces and so yeah we’re basically trying to create more of this cohesive arts district campus that people could come and offers an alternative tourism to what currently exists. So you know providing an opportunity are you continuing to provide an opportunity for locals like a center for the arts and culture but also for our visitors here are coming. And some people hoping you know hoping to draw more of that cultural tourism. But then also to draw in the tourists who are coming to ski or to bike. And they might stumble upon Breckenridge creative arts and end up having this wonderful experience. Sure
. It’s there’s a lot of ways to actually participate in that right. There’s a lot of classes and things like that they’re available to the public. I know every time I’ve come to town over the summer there’s been something going on here. Yes but you also do have these artisan residents and I was looking through some of their bio’s and it seems like my impression was that the majority are from Colorado but not necessarily from Colorado including you know some from Europe and all over the U.S.. I mean what is the kind of filter system there are you trying to just bring in a lot of different styles.
So we have two buildings on campus the Robert White House and the tin shop. And both of them have a multipurpose studio on the first floor and a fully furnished apartment on the second floor. And the actor actually applications for 2018 closed today. And we’re basically will fill the schedule in the months ahead for that year. And yeah really trying to create a balance between supporting local artists but then bringing in some international talent and we do the Robert White House is by invitation and that tin shop is by application so. And we do try to make it so it’s relevant with the festivals that we have. So you know we’re talking about before like our year round programming so we have classes on campus throughout the year and we produce four quarterly catalogues with that programming. But then we also have the annual festival also wave as in June and that’s like white light water and sound is the theme for wave.
And so we try to bring in artists who are working with environmental themes. Then Biff is our biggest festival. Brackenridge International Festival of art and it’s two weeks long. And you know that is an opportunity for us to bring in this international artists or you know just a more eclectic mix. So our next festival coming up is Dia de los Muertos So we currently have an exhibition on the lawn up by Ridge Street. And actually the back deck of old Masonic Hall called Last Trump was which means spinning tops in Spanish and the two artists Hector and Ignacio are from Mexico City and their work is also an exhibition right now at the Denver Museum. And similar work those Trump posts are inspired by traditional Mexican weaving.
And then the exhibition at the Denver Museum la cosa La Russa Adora is called and they’re rocking chairs that are place and like a one big line and you know that artwork is supposed to like create community bring people together and it’s very playful and fun. So you know Hector and Ignacio are not coming to do a residency unfortunately but that might be the kind of thing where we draw draw people in. So it’s you know the artwork that’s being exhibited is relevant to the programming that we’re doing. So yeah it’s really the residency program is great. It’s smaller than a lot of residences. You know there’s just two artist in residence at a given time. So we really try to engage them with the schools and bring them into the field trips into our teen programs have open houses three times a week and like one lecture demo or class once a week. So there are just lots of opportunities to engage with the public.
Yeah right. Well and speaking of all those events you know three openings a week and all this other stuff. Yeah. One of the things I noticed when I was doing some research is that your calendar is full. There is a lot of stuff kind of underneath the umbrella of BCA you know like he said it’s grown way beyond just managing the properties here and so on and on top of the kind of daily and weekly stuff there’s the larger festivals mostly throughout the summer and it’s just seems like it’s really busy you guys are keeping those town busy and I guess that’s kind of part of your charter that’s just one of the things that you are here to do. That’s why the city has engaged this organization to create that. But what are some of the challenges with keeping this calendar so full or.
Yeah. Well I mean really just keeping track is a big challenge like there is. Yeah. As you said something going on every weekend and we are fortunate to have you know some really strong cultural partners that Brackenridge tourism office the Breckenridge heritage Alliance the national repertory orchestra Breckenridge music festival Brackenridge theater company just to name a few. And so like working with them and collaborating instead of trying to compete is essential. We have a big event coming up in December that’s really exciting. We’re collaborating with the Breckenridge music festival and tourism office is called and silent night and day.
So every year the tourism office arranges lighting of the Christmas tree and the Blue River plaza and then there’s a really fun Santa raced down Main Street. And you know just different. Like Christmas holiday type events. And so we’re kind of jumping on that train. And we have this light and sound exhibition by this artist Phil Klein. And so it’s it’s a sound sculpture and the way it works is that people bring you some kind of sound device whether it’s like an old school boom box or like a phone or anything to play sound a speaker portable speaker. And then they can download one of four soundtracks and we all like it. It basically culminates in this 45 minute parade around town that’s a lot of noise really. So really fun. And just you know should be like a really great addition to the programming that already exists.
Sounds like something I should have bring my kids to. Yeah. Once you’re like oh you don’t have to be quiet. Yeah.
I mean with a lot of with our festivals wave and Beth Dia de los Muertos we really try to make it family friendly accessible you know and to different demographics in the county. And we’re kind of diving into that a little bit more with some of our program evaluation like who is coming to these events and like how can we get more people here. And you know it was just has been you know like when some were made some changes this year to make it a truly bilingual event. So we have the signs of her that say say Abla Espanol and you know we have facilitators who do speak Spanish and English obviously. So yeah I think those changes are really important to me. And yeah like accessibility on multiple levels is very important to us right now.
So out of all these these events these busy calendars do you have just an overall favorite. And then maybe also a lesser known one that’s kind of slipping under the radar that was amazing or unexpectedly amazing. You know that we should look out for the next time it comes around or yeah. Any any insight on.
I mean I do. I love our way of festival. It’s just you know we can take it as an opportunity to dig in some more dig into some more like intellectual themes so the artists that we had this year. Amanda prayer she is an Australian artist who lives in Tasmania now but in Australia rabbits are an invasive species. So her there her work this year is called intrude and there these giant inflatable rabbits that were all over town so she had multiple sizes the smallest ones were called nibbles and so for some people you know it’s just the spectacle of it like wow they’re the giant rabbits everywhere. For other people those like what is going on with these rabbits and then they dig a little deeper and you know find out about these environmental problems which is really neat. And you know we had collaborated with high country conservation and did a participatory sculpture in the plaza called Recycled rain.
And so over the course of the festival the sculpture grew and it was constructed out of a thousand water bottles from the recycling center. So I just yeah I think it’s a really fun event. It’s a neat time of year in early June like schools just laid out. And so it’s just a different festival and there’s really nothing like that going on in Colorado. And as far as you know projects that are lesser known I think you know this is such a small program but we’ve recently revamped some of the teen programs one of which is a service based project. So we just had the first one last month and the project was dog collars which we donated to summit the Summit County Animal Shelter.
So you know there’s the weather it’s like a large scale event like wave or something small with eight participants in the quandary antiques cabin. I think there’s room for all of that within the organization. And so it definitely keeps you on your toes and it’s it’s fun. Yeah every day is different.
That sounds amazing because it is fun to switch your mind from you know different types of projects and maybe one’s more organizational and those little ones a little more hands on and also ones maybe more international and focus on bringing in tourists and visitors and other ones are definitely way more geared towards the local community. So you really have a diverse kind of projects. It sounds like it would be a super fun job. Yeah yeah that’s great no complaints. Speaking of that we were we were speaking about this a little bit how you ended up here because that is definitely part of the story of all of these conversations that I’ve been having That’s really interesting is you know Choros just a great place to live. And it attracts people from all over we’re in. How did you end up here in Bracken with the BCA.
Yeah. So I was living in Memphis a couple of years ago teaching Spanish actually. And I had some friends who were moving out here to do ski patrol. And I thought like oh that’s cool job. So I came out here a couple of times and try it out and it worked out. And yeah ended up doing ski patrol here for two years in the summer I was working for the National Water leadership school guiding and my background had been in the arts. I had gone to graduate school for contemporary art and just having trouble finding your own job in the art scene.
And but yeah very coincidentally Brackenridge creative arts was getting off the ground when I moved back and moved to Breckenridge and I been keeping my eye on the organization.
You know I’d participated in some ceramics classes and just like dabbled a little bit and then I happened to see that there was a job opening and applied. And yeah it’s really been a dream dream job and to have this job here in Breckenridge is just ideal. So that’s pretty special. I still do volunteer patrol and yeah keep my EMT sir and everything.
So not exactly far away from. Just look across the street at my skis in my office. So it’s a powder day. It’s
like you know just going to take a little lunch break. So
I think that’s pretty well understood. Yeah yeah.
That’s awesome. So you know one of the things I like to ask people is you know if you had just a day off day to yourself and no agenda in your case I’d like to ask for McDonnell a couple of different perspectives which is one if you wanted to have just a real day what would you do where would you go would you go to Denver.
Are there things here that you don’t get to spend enough time with. Yeah.
I mean I think there are so many trails here. Forget how many miles of singletrack. But I always feel like you never get enough time outside. Some of the artwork that we produce like the Trail Mix series is out on the trails actually sought to get excused to get out there.
But tell us a little bit about the surprise. I have not yet heard that.
So the sculptures are as part of the Breckenridge International Festival of art. And every year there’s three different locations. Moonstone trail up by Carter Park and an Iowa Hill out on Airport Road and Illinois Gulch by the ice skating rink. And so it’s a collaboration with the Breckenridge music festival and we basically have a large scale sculpture at each of those sites and then three times every day. We have musicians come and play. So sometimes that’s you know just solo acoustic and sometimes it’s a string trio or quartet and it’s it really is in line with you know just the mentality of this town like this. You have to go out and you know hike there and and like discover it and we’ve worked a little bit you know signage has been tricky because we want people to be able to find it but not have it be too easy either. So
there’s no sign on the right turn here. Yeah yeah.
So you know we have some trail trail mix signs that are up during the festival just for a route finding so that you know the journey of getting there is not frustrating or confusing but it really is called trail mix because you love your art and your nature and music altogether. So it’s really become a popular event and we’ve been amazed. You know this past summer we had up to 40 people out there at the individual concerts and so to get you know that many people up like way up on a trail here is pretty fantastic. And yeah I think with the open space and trails here they’ve been you know wonderful and you know letting us use the spaces as well.
Zide Yeah because it has to be coordinated with the open space areas around here. That’s how fun.
Yeah definitely. Yeah it’s always there now.
It’s still up and actually you know the one out on Iowa Hill on airport road is by an artist named Nicky pike and it’s a giant spear made of wood chips and so we’re just going to you know leave it up and let it kind of let nature take its course. The one up on Moonstone is a giant pine beetle so actually has has wings the artist Michael McGillis welded these infrastructure for the wings and then put like a tarp like a tent material over that. And there’s three little cushion so you can sit in the body of the pine beetle. It was kind of fun. And then over on Illinois creek there are these like basically interlocking circles also made of wood. So it’s it’s almost always in a natural materials and biodegradable materials. We do de-install them at a certain point usually before it snows.
Yeah which I saw some on the way here and yes like it’s starting to happen. Yup. But. He so that’s so cool that’s just kind of embodies this whole place. I would guess as far as beauty you have art out on the trails. Yeah. Could
you go ride your bike or hike to it go find it and go find it. Like our campuses. I mean these buildings are so unique like their historic nature and the beautiful architecture and renovations involved. But it is limited and you know they’re smaller there they’re historic. So a lot of you know the fun that we have is finding the sites in town that will work for this like large scale spectacle artwork. So whether it’s giant inflatable rabbits or you know a light installation for before we just had Craig Walsh who was his United States premiere and he filmed two longstanding locals in the community and projected their faces up into the trees. But
you know we Craig spent a couple of days before the festival like choosing like well which trees are going to work. And you know whereas they’re less light pollution and you know all of those factors and you know you have these amazing artists here with the backdrop of the ten mile range you know you can’t beat it. Exactly
. And I know it’s it’s hard to pick favorites but are there. Do you have a favorite trail around here or is there a go to for you.
I think well you know I don’t mind like the first trail that I ever wrote because when I moved here it was only a road biker and you can’t not mountain bike here because it’s just the thing to do. So I was really terrified of mountain biking. And I went out and did the Blair Witch trail which I still think it’s one of my favorites and you know to make it longer you can do the red trail but it’s off of Tiger road driving out of town and Blair which is just yeah I think it’s gorgeous out there. And you can it really just takes 30 minutes to one loop so you know it’s not too committing. You just go out on your lunch break if you want to do it so you can go out on your property.
And then finally like the last thing I I like to ask people is who would you like to hear on this podcast. There’s so many people you can see a list afterwards. If you forget anyone one.
One person in town. Robin Pattee Theobald’s. They are. They’ve been like really big supporters of the arts.
They are behind the rock foundation which supports the 10 shop residency and Robbins a fifth generation Brackenridge local so called family. So you know what we get a lot of the time in the four years that I’ve been here like how this town’s changed so much and I’ve seen it happen in the four years. But you’ve got people who lived here 30 years ago 40 years ago. And so you know I think he’d be Pattie and be very interesting to interview just to hear about the nature of those changes and.
Yeah. I think that the Good the Bad and the ugly side.
Yeah sure. That’s really interesting. Yeah this whole states really changing and that’s one of the motivations behind this whole pikas is that there is really good amazing things happening but you know there’s a lot of balance and you know that needs to be achieved as well. So that would be certainly interesting perspective. Is
there anything else you wanted to mention that we missed come back for details Martos because. Will have an artist talk with Hector and Ignacio Akhtar will be here and his assistant Javier to talk about Trump.
And you can get your face painted. You can make some sugar skulls and paper flowers and we even have a community altar you can add momentos for loved ones and it’s really just a fun community event. So and when is that going to be. That is October 20th through the 22nd. That’s great. Yes.
- Well thank you so much for taking some time to chat with us. I really appreciate it. It’s been great to meet you and learn more about what’s going on out here. Thank you. All right thanks a lot.
All right thanks for listening and I hope you enjoyed this conversation. I really had a good time. As we mentioned in the intro you can find links to any related articles or content in the show notes to this podcast episode. If you’ve enjoyed this episode please subscribe to this guest on iTunes and leave a review if you have a few moments. If you prefer to get our updates via email or use a podcast service other than iTunes such as stitcher or Android you can learn more on how to subscribe at Colorado dot FM forward slash subscribe. Thanks again. I really hope you enjoy this episode and we will see you next time.
Featured Photo credit: Liam Doran, courtesy Breckenridge Creative Arts