It was 1974 when dedicated, caring believers created Center for the Arts Evergreen, CAE. Their mission was to enrich and serve the mountain community by advancing while cultivating the arts through educational programming, exhibits and events. In doing so they have not only promoted local art and artists, but gained access to art from across the country and around the world. All of this was accomplished through extreme effort and enough enthusiasm to open their own building in 2017. This space was utilized for teaching, curation and creative expression while metamorphosing a historic building into a gathering place designed for both artists and art lovers.
Through a combination of fundraising, private funding and grants this building was purchased and renovated without any leftover debt when it opened. At last there was a place to show appreciation for visual, functional and musical arts. But never was this so apparent than when the pandemic challenged our lives. Through the Center it was demonstrated that art had the power to heal a community. Artists, art enthusiasts and community members came together during what could have been times of complete isolation. People were comforted as they were invited to see through the eyes, minds and hands of others. Thankfully, new artists evolved as classes, both in-person and zoom, were offered to all.
The pandemic created the impetus to add to their existing building through the realization that artists and a huge part of the community are highly dependent on CAE. A review of overall needs meant an architectural addition of more than 5,000 square feet, designed for education, artists and most of all, the community as a whole. The CAE Phase II Capital Campaign that recently launched to realize this expansion project is over half way to its goal of raising $2 million in necessary funds. This Center, located in Evergreen’s Bergen Park, will soon offer a large mixed-use community room, six rental studios for artists, five offices for full-time staff and most exciting…a forever desired ceramics facility. CAE’s effort to bring the arts to the public is effectively demonstrated through the mixed-use space. This area can accommodate 50 artists and as many as 200 event attendees.
This mountain community remains committed to CAE as it provides cultural awareness that grabs the attention of future residents and visitors. Now there will be room for artists and exhibitors to sell their works both in the gallery and gift shop. Too, renovated outdoor space will include a large heated courtyard as well as a community sculpture garden. This space will also be set aside for performing arts and family-friendly events. Garage door walls will be added to facilitate easy movement from indoor space to a communal outdoor patio.
Keeping in mind the role CAE plays in this mountain community, we must include the economic gain they provide for many who chose to be involved. At the Center, artists receive 60% of all their sales. Traditional gallery consignments offer much less. As a teaching artist, one can serve as a contract employee with CAE as well. Ranging from elementary level studies all the way to coaching on memoir writing, add ceramics and watercolor masters, they are there for the striving student and professional alike. Performing artists, too, are supported, including hired musicians for concert series, festivals and exhibition openings.
In addition, CAE reaches out to other local nonprofit art organizations. Both Evergreen Players and Evergreen Children’s Chorale are just two examples thereof. Small businesses are included here as well. First of all, the Center employs a forever mighty, full-time staff. Local food trucks and craft beverage vendors, format printers, landscaping companies and local print publications have sold their products and services to CAE. Remaining open during most of the pandemic, this caring organization either gave away or rented at low cost meeting space to local businesses. Such institutions as Resilience 1220, youth mental health champions, the Rocky Mountain Literacy Festival and Bootstraps scholarship association took advantage of such and in return, hold CAE in high regard.
The forever goal of CAE is to serve as a true community center. To provide a gathering place for those with diverse talents and appreciations to come together to share, learn and enlighten through art is the work of this one-of-a-kind nonprofit. Even the building where they thrive is held in historic relevance, for in 2018 CAE was awarded placement on the Colorado Register of Historic Properties, and is currently a tour stop for various historical societies. This contemporary space where people can study and experience the visual and performing arts was well-considered and, in some ways, preserved. The frontier past of Evergreen is recognized as we remember the historic Bergen Park Church and Soda Creek Schoolhouse that was purchased and painstakingly transformed into CAE.
Center for the Arts Evergreen Phase ll Capital Campaign will enhance all previous efforts to create opportunities for all people –whatever their personal history-- to actively engage in the arts. Just imagine all walks of life transcending cultures, age, socioeconomics and ethnicity while upholding a continuous passion for all the arts. This is the forever dream of CAE. For more information, including an animated fly-through of the proposed addition, or to donate to the Phase II Capital Campaign, visit buildourvision.org.