Denver civic and cultural leaders on Friday revealed a raft of new shows and the loosening of restrictions at some of the city’s best-known arts and music venues.
Mask-free concerts, dozens of free outdoor performances and other programming will arrive in the next few weeks as part of a marketing campaign aimed at attracting metro-area residents to Denver’s ailing downtown. The move follows Denver city and county’s change to Level Clear this weekend, and Gov. Jared Polis’ statewide removal a mask mandate for vaccinated residents.
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“What will happen across Denver over the next few months is extraordinary — a coordinated effort to bring people outside and celebrate an All-Star Summer in Colorado,” Mayor Michael Hancock’s office wrote on Facebook, where the event was livestreamed.
Hancock held the press conference at the city-owned Denver Performing Arts Complex, which was emptied of audiences starting in March 2020, to detail the new “Denver All-Star Summer” marketing campaign. It takes its name from the July 13 MLB All-Star game, to be held at Coors Field.
Heralded by brass musicians from the Colorado Symphony, Hancock’s echoing voice thanked city partners such as Denver Arts & Venues, Denver Downtown Partnership, Visit Denver and AEG Presents Rocky Mountains — that last one the region’s dominant promoter, founded by Colorado billionaire Philip Anschutz.
Before COVID-19, Denver’s arts and culture scene supported 16,000 jobs and generated $1.4 billion in revenue, said Ginger White, executive director of Denver Arts & Venues, which owns and operates the arts complex, Sculpture Park, Red Rocks Amphitheatre and others. She announced a newly re-launched artscomplex.com, which is selling tickets to an outdoor concert series at the complex. She also teased free activities and educational programing at the Sculpture Park, just west of the arts complex along Speer Boulevard.
The plans are a coordinated bid to boost downtown, which has suffered throughout the COVID-19 pandemic as office workers and others stayed away from formerly packed high-rises and most other businesses in the area, such as restaurants, bars, arts and culture nonprofits, and hotels.
“There was an 11% decline in these jobs,” Hancock said, “jobs mostly filled by people of color and women.”
Brent Fedrizzi, co-president of AEG Presents Rocky Mountains, tempered expectations by saying “we’re barely halfway there” in reference to full-capacity shows at venues such as Red Rocks, which will begin offering at least 100 doses of the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at select concerts. He also detailed a series of ticketed concerts at the Sculpture Park from artists such as Tab Benoit, Boombox, Fitz & the Tantrums and more.
All AEG Presents shows will continue to require masks and promote vaccines, Fedrizzi said.
Another 85 days of free musical performances across downtown — at the city’s Outer Space, at 16th and Welton streets, and on the upper end of the 16th Street Mall — will join a returning Meet in the Street program that closes the 16th Street Mall to shuttle and bike traffic. The latter will expand patios and pedestrian-friendly streets on Memorial Day weekend, the Fourth of July, Aug. 7 and 8, and on Labor Day weekend, said Tami Door, president and CEO of the Downtown Denver Partnership.
The Taste of Colorado will also return as a scattered event, as opposed to being concentrated at Civic Center park. The “different vibe” will spread the love across local businesses, Door said.
“(The) focus (is) on taking care of those right here at home,” she said of the event, which will be “woven” throughout downtown.
“Denver’s All-Star Summer” marketing campaign will encourage residents to become “tourists in their own town,” according to Visit Denver, and begins on May 24. More information will be available starting then at denverallstarsummer.com. Event organizers can also submit events to be featured by visiting the city-run denver365.com site.
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