Are you looking for ways to find arts and culture in Denver while staying home? Experiencing the amazing Denver arts scene has always lifted us up and made us whole, connected, engaged and happy. Respecting the stay at home orders from Governor Jared Polis and Mayor Michael Hancock is paramount. However, that doesn’t mean we can’t still fill our minds and souls with fine arts.
Like many of you, I’ve been racking my brain for ways I can help contribute to my community right now. How can we support friends and sprinkle sunshine at a time when more gray clouds hang over our beautiful mile high skies than we ever dreamed possible? Having just conquered cancer, it seems helping out at food banks and homeless shelters isn’t a possibility for me. Although, these are definitely important things to do if you are able. Volunteers can find out more information at HelpColoradoNow.org.
FINDING ARTS AND CULTURE IN DENVER FROM HOME
One small thing I thought I could do is to spend a little time each week compiling ways to experience Denver’s arts and culture at home with your families. If you are like me, you might be overwhelmed at how many classes and shows are emerging online. Where do we find these opportunities? How can we access the links easily? What will we do without our treasured spring traditions: The Colorado Shakespeare Festival, Hattitude, outdoor concerts and beautiful spring dance recitals?
By putting some curated arts information in one place I hope you can easily find a creative experience from home that inspires and uplifts you.
In exploring all the virtual cultural experiences in Denver, I am completely awe struck by the strength of our community. The creativity of artists, the powerful words of poets and songwriters and the genuine care we each show one another is as vibrant and powerful as ever! I want to give a big shout out to the cultural facilities and terrific local artists mentioned in this story – each have overcome great challenges to keep the arts alive in Denver! THANK YOU!
A note of caution: please don’t let any of these suggestions cause you unnecessary anxiety or FOMO (fear of missing out). None of us need that right now! Perhaps pick one fun cultural “outing” or class a day or even a week to lift you up and keep your mind and body in motion. Many of these opportunities are free. Others offer an opportunity to pay a fee to support our local actors, dancers, writers and artists who desperately need our support right now.
It’s been said, “the show must go on!” These trying times are making that very hard. Nevertheless, where there’s a will, there’s a way! Here are some ways to keep theatre in your hearts while expressing your inner talents from home.
1. See a Broadway Show
Both Broadway and the Denver Center for Performing Arts (DCPA) have cancelled all performances during the COVID19 crisis. However, there are a few website that allow you to stream full Broadway shows from home during this time.
So in trying out one of these websites, I made a bowl of popcorn and watched Kinky Boots on BroadwayHD. This show always makes me Colorado proud when I think about Annaleigh Ashford. Ashford is the broadway star from Colorado who originated the role of Lauren in the original Broadway cast of Kinky Boots, a performance for which she received a 2013 Tony nomination. Sure–it wasn’t the same as seeing the show live, but honestly I have never before seen the show so up close and detailed!
Locally, check out Rocky Mountain PBS for a wide variety of Broadway shows and never before streamed Broadway experiences. Boy has Rocky Mountain PBS been working overtime! Thank you PBS! You rock!
The websites that are streaming Broadway shows have small membership fees; however, they also offer free trial periods in which to watch shows without charge. Some of the shows you can catch up on are Miss Saigon, Carousel, Holiday Inn, He Loves Me, Oklahoma and many more!
2. Take an Acting Class or Perform Virtually
Sadly, many kids spent much of the beginning of the year rehearsing and memorizing line for shows they never got to perform. Even though the show are all cancelled, the artistic community has come together to offer actors of all ages opportunities to preform virtually. There are also opportunities to spend time at home honing one’s skills and finding positive outlets for creative expression.
We are really lucky that we have the opportunity to take our one-on-one lessons into a virtual format. We have a generous and loving community that is working through the process with our studio and continuing to support our teachers. We’re probably like all families and small business owners. We are holding our breath and optimistic for a successful summer!
-Sky Barker Maa, Owner of Neighborhood Music Stapleton
Neighborhood Music Stapleton Provides Exceptional Online Performing Arts Opportunities
Skye Barker Mass and her team at Neighborhood Music Stapleton, (NMS) turned broken hearts into full hearts by quickly transitioning to online theater opportunities for kids. Neighborhood Music has a virtual recital scheduled for April 25 and May 2nd along with a number of online private virtual lesson opportunities from local directors and teachers. For more information go to Neighborhood Music’s website.
Sunshine Songs with Broadway Start Laura Benanti
Like the amazing team at Neighborhood Music, Tony award winning Broadway star Laura Benanti was among the first performing artists to show what is possible when creativity and compassion come together during the COVID19 pandemic. Benanti’s heart went out to all the young actors who had rehearsed for weeks for their high school musicals and school shows, but didn’t get a chance to perform due to cancellations and social distancing guidelines. Benanti invited these talented rising stars to sing their songs online and tag her with hashtag #sunshinesongs.
Her spectacular idea was not only greatly appreciated by thousands of students across the country, but the beginning of a whole new movement – the Sunshine Song Movement. While the talented participants may have lost an opportunity to perform with friends and classmates at schools and community theaters, they gained an opportunity to perform on a global stage with audiences that include Broadway’s biggest stars and directors. Both Lin Manuel Miranda and Ben Platt have been big fans and supporters of Benanti’s Sunshine Songs.
When people say, “dance like no one is watching,” now is the time! Denver’s dance community is beyond amazing in showing us how easy it can be to find arts and culture in Denver while staying home. For starters, world class dance companies near and dear to my heart are offering online dance classes to engage the community in active uplifting opportunities to move and groove.
3. Dance Class with Denver’s Iconic Dance Legend Cleo Parker Robinson
Some of the virtual classes offered through Cleo Parker Robinson Dance (CPRD) include ballet barre, Horton technique, movement meditation and even a dance warmup with Cleo herself! In addition to the online dance classes CPRD is offering the community the ability to hear motivational messages from Cleo Parker Robinson and learn about her incredible 50-year journey as Founder and Artistic Director of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance.
4. Keep Dancing with Virtual Classes for All Ages at Cherry Creek Dance
Cherry Creek Dance has virtual classes for all ages from parent tot movement classes to the highest level of teen jazz, ballet, hip hop, tap and breakdancing. There are also a number of adult dance classes and exercise opportunities online including floor barre and adult tap. You will find there are certainly some benefits to taking a dance class in the privacy of your own home. For one, you won’t need to worry about flubbing that pirouette, so just go for it!
Learning more about great art and the artists who create it is an excellent way to seeking out some arts and culture in Denver while staying home. Creating art yourself…even more fantastic!
5. Get to know a local Denver artist:
As a result of staying home to keep our community safe, we are all spending a little more time on social media these days. What a great opportunity to get to know a local artist. Local artists are lending their talent to tell an important story of what we are all feeling and experiencing in isolation.
One of my favorite local artists, Carole Goodwin, takes her instagram followers on a daily artistic journey during COVID19 with clever sketches on toilet paper. Whimsical artist Nancy Alterman, also on instagram @yofiegal, is sketching beautiful flower baskets of hope to uplift and calm us during our stay at home experience.
Some other favorite local artists to check out on instagram are: @detour303, @dinkc, @shittykittn1, @greggdeal, @wemfer, and @leeannwise_art.
Another great way to get to know local artists from your home is to watch the Artists and Artwork Videos, online under the Schools and Teachers Resources on the Denver Art Museum’s website. I particularly enjoyed learning more about Denver based artist Jaime Molina. Earlier this this year, Molina completed Denver’s newest public art icon – the 40-foot totem pole, “La Valeta,” that stands tall at the intersection of Federal and 6th Avenue.
6. Take an Online art Class:
Have you always wanted to take an art class, but never had the time? Well, now you do. Kids too! Some are free and others have a fee to help support local business and non profit art institutions. There are phenomenal opportunities to learn from great artists and illustrators during the COVID 19 pandemic.
One of my favorite virtual experiences so far is the free daily doodling class I’ve been taking online with my son and Mo Willems author and illustrator or the children’s book series Piggy & Gerald. Willems created 15 inspiring online youtube classes for kids through the Kennedy Center. The last class ends today, April 3rd, but the full series can still be accessed through the Kennedy Center website.
Zoos, Gardens & Museums
Denver’s museums and cultural facilities are offering some incredible virtual experiences during the stay at home order. These fine institutions offer easy ways to find arts and culture in Denver while staying home!
7. Tour the Botanic Gardens
A great way to get a little culture in while you are staying home is to take a virtual tour through some of the country’s best botanical gardens, including our 28 acre treasure right in the heart of Denver. Follow the hashtag #ourgardensyourhome and access to all these gorgeous gardens online here.
8. Check out the Animals at the Denver Zoo
During the travel restrictions, why not embark on a grand safari trip virtually through the Denver Zoo? Visit the Denver Zoo online for live streams and DZTV animal videos daily, family activities and conservation you can do from home.
One of my favorite virtual trips to the Denver Zoo was visiting the Toyota Elephant Passage with Groucho! Groucho is 50 years old and the oldest Asian elephant at the zoo. Being a geriatric elephant, Groucho requires specialized care. When else would you have the time to see Groucho get his nails trimmed?
Be sure to check out the baby cam or the the Denver’s zoo’s first ever greater one horned rino calf born on February 22. While visiting the Denver Zoo’s website, be sure to vote for the name you like best for this amazing new zoo member. Choices are Talli, Joona and Pemba. Learn what each name means and see which name is in the lead so far. Also be sure to follow hashtag #closedbutstillcaring for more fun Denver Zoo experiences from home.
9. Explore the Collections of Denver’s Great Art Museums
Denver is home to a great number of worldly art treasures many of us have never seen. While staying home, you can see many of these great works of art from your computer thanks to the efforts of Denver’s art museums putting these virtual experiences online. For instance, a couple of my favorite experiences are taking a 360 virtual tour of the Kirkland Museum and browsing the impressive online collection at the Denver Art Museum.
What better way to find arts and culture in Denver while staying home than listening to local musicians!
10. Enjoy the magic of the Colorado Symphony Playing Together While Being Apart
If there is one thing we all need right now, it’s music! Colorado Symphony has stepped up under the hardest of circumstances to provide online musical experiences that uplift and change the entire mood of one’s day. Have you seen Colorado Symphony’s Ode to Joy on Youtube? There is no better way to start your day during this COVID19 Stay at Home period then with this inspiring online performance.
Starting this weekend, Colorado Symphony will be offering online a virtual music hour where the Colorado Symphony will relive some of the best classical works from its past few seasons. The weekly virtual music hour will include special introductions by Colorado Symphony musicians and conductors. This is one of my favorite ways to find arts and culture while staying home.
11. Support Local Denver Musicians on Spotify
Keeping things local, you can also find a playlist on Spotify of local Denver artists: “Denver Rocks” that helps support local musicians who can’t perform their shows right now. The playlist includes favorite songs by The Lumineers, One Republic, Nathaniel Rateliff, The Fray, Joe Walsh, Earth Wind & Fire, Big Head Todd, DeVotchKa, The String Cheese Incident, Hazel Miller and many more! What a great day to get in touch with the most dynamic musicians – all in one place!
12. Attend the Rocky Mountain Virtual Music Festival on Social Media
Colorado is known for its amazing music festivals, and in the time of the coronavirus The Rocky Mountain Virtual Music Festival, presented by ARISE Music Festival, gives us something to hold onto! The Rocky Mountain Virtual Music Festival is a weekly live-stream music festival. By attending virtually you help support Colorado musicians, bands and artists during this difficult time. The festival’s inspiration is simple,
The only way out is through, and we intend to get through with music.
Every Friday, this festival features a series of live-stream performances and visual artist spotlights. Moreover, the focus of the festival is on building community, promoting safety, maintaining positivity, and giving both creatives and viewers something to look forward to each week. Going on its third week, the festival is free. That being said, tipping is encouraged! All visual artists and musicians have the option to earn tips through virtual “tip jars” like Venmo and PayPal.
To view the live streams in progress on Fridays you can use three different methods:
1) Go directly to the Festival page on Facebook and refresh at the start of every stream. You may have to scroll down to see the live video.
2) Go to the Festival page on Facebook and click “videos” on the left, which will lead you here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/rmvirtualmusicfestival/videos/
3) RSVP for the facebook event, and the streams will be shared to the discussion while they are live: https://www.facebook.com/events/559620264988973/
#PLAYON – #STAYHOME – #DOINGMYPARTCO
I sure hope these ideas for ways to find arts and culture while staying home help brighten your week. Please email me or reach out on instagram @denverilove with ideas you want to share. I am looking for dozens of more easy ways to find arts and culture in Denver while staying home! I would love to help spread the word. Hoping everyone stays safe and healthy.
Note: If you don’t want to miss these weekly arts and culture updates, be sure to sign up for the free Denver I Love blog, and we’ll get you added to the distribution list. Emails are well spaced throughout the year and not overbearing in any way.