In 2022, Rose Community Foundation awarded $200,000 to 32 organizations in Greater Denver encouraging participation in civic life through arts and cultural events. Grants supported both individual events and ongoing programming that promote a strong sense of community and reconnection after two years of pandemic-related separation and social division.
Irrespective of language, country of origin or background, art and culture are powerful tools of connection, education and inspiration. And while art and culture can break down boundaries, we recognize that many communities have been historically left out of mainstream arts and culture spaces. By lifting up overlooked narratives, these organizations are helping to make Denver a safe and welcoming community for all people.
Motus Theater, for example, uses original theater performance to facilitate dialogue on critical issues of our time and bring silenced voices and histories to the stage. Through storytelling on immigration, race and the criminal justice system, Motus aims to build alliances across diverse segments of the community.
“Motus Theater is focused on leveraging the power of artfully crafted autobiographical monologues to change narratives and ignite policy change,” says Rita Rufino Valente-Quinn, producing director at Motus Theater. “With this grant support, we reached thousands of people with our two touring autobiographical monologue projects: UndocuAmerica – uplifting the humanity of leaders who are undocumented and change the nation’s narrative about immigration; and JustUs – exposing the devastating impact of the criminal legal system and inspire action towards a vision of true justice.”
Another Foundation grantee, Youth on Record (YOR), uses music-centered programs to equip young people from historically under-resourced communities with the skills needed to find academic success, increase their economic opportunities, and strengthen their community connections and networks. YOR’s Underground Music Showcase (UMS) supports the Denver creative ecosystem with mental health and substance misuse resources and dialogue around issues facing the community, while also creating a safe environment for creative expression.
“Co-owning and co-leading the UMS is part of Youth on Record’s new approach to fulfilling our mission and reaching more artists and community members,” says Jami Duffy, YOR’s Executive Director and Co-Manager of UMS LLC. “We brought together artists, national delegates, and longtime fest-goers, and reimagined the Great American Music Festival by providing thriving artist wages, increased attention to harm reduction through sober bar activations, and mental health support for attendees and musicians.”
Warm Cookies of the Revolution is another organization engaging people in crucial civic issues through innovative cultural programs. In 2022, Warm Cookies of the Revolution hosted two events celebrating Denver’s lowrider and House and Ballroom cultures—the La Raza Park Day and Cruise and The Royal House of LaBeija’s Miracle Ball. With live art, food and displays of lowrider design, the La Raza Park Day and Cruise educated attendees about local infrastructure and economic development issues. Emphasizing the fun, beauty and importance of ballroom culture, The Royal House of LaBeija’s Miracle Ball educated attendees on issues disproportionately affecting the LGBTQ+ community.
“Through this grant opportunity we have seen first-hand the transformative power of arts and culture and recognize their importance in advancing equitable and inclusive communities,” says Maria Torres, community impact officer for Rose Community Foundation. “We feel fortunate to play a role in fostering Denver’s vibrant and forward-thinking arts and cultural communities and look forward to supporting their continued growth.”
Below is a list of all 2022 Civic Participation through Arts and Culture grantees:
BrightonMusic Choir and Orchestra, Inc.
City and County of Denver, Denver Landmark Preservation
Colorado Youth Mariachi Program
Douglas County Libraries Foundation
Ent. House via REDLINE
Filipino-American Community of Colorado
Fundacion de Colombianos en Colorado
Japanese Arts Network via Theatre Artibus
Moyo Nguvu Cultural Arts Center Inc.
The Word, A Storytelling Sanctuary, Inc.
Vocal Coalition Youth Choirs via The HadaNou Collective
Warm Cookies of the Revolution