A bank that supports public art, a banker who has funded high-end arts festivals, entrepreneurs who celebrate and embrace diverse working groups, and a group of designers and marketing experts who sold T-shirts to help with wildfire relief  all were recognized Wednesday at the fifth annual Business & Arts Lunch.

The lunch, hosted by the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance and the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, honors businesses and business leaders that support the arts and integrate arts and creativity into their companies.

U.S. Bank was presented the Philanthropy Award for the bank’s longtime support of the Art on the Streets program, which, since its inception in 1999, has brought more than 160 works of public art downtown. Awards organizers said Art on the Streets generates new excitement for public art, provides a wide platform for artist exposure and enhances the physical and visual downtown environment.

Christian Keesee, chairman of Kirkpatrick Bank, was named Business Leader in the Arts. Keesee is founder of the Green Box Arts Festival, which each summer provides artists and visitors to Green Mountain Falls the opportunity to explore and nurture the creative process. Keesee also serves as president of the Kirkpatrick Family Fund, which supports organizations such as the Colorado Springs Philharmonic, the Fine Arts Center, the Chamber Orchestra of the Springs and COPPeR’s Peak Arts Fund.

Honored in the category of Creative Workspace/Workforce was Epicentral Coworking. Founded last year by Lisa Tessarowicz and Hannah Parsons, Epicentral provides coworking space downtown for people who are independent creative’s and entrepreneurs to office, meet clients and bring innovative ideas to the Pikes Peak Region. Epicentral took the Coworking concept to a whole new level by creating a vibrant and eclectic working environment for their members by giving careful attention to the aesthetic qualities of the office, from lighting and music, to hanging artwork by local artists on the walls.

Behind the Ts: (front row left to right) Kathleen Eisenbeis with baby Hayley, Jenny Schell, Austin Buck, Sara DeRose and Tucker Wannamaker (second row) Joshua Steinfeld, Tommy Eisenbeis andTroy DeRose (third row)Christopher Schell and Matt Andrews

This year, a special award for Creative Initiative was presented to Wildfire Tees. Formed in the hours after the Waldo Canyon fire devastated the Mountain Shadows neighborhood, Wildfire Tees merged the art of high-quality design with social media skills to produce and sell more than $300,000 in T-shirts, with 100 percent of the proceeds benefitting wildfire relief nonprofits. Founding partners in Wildfire Tees were CoPilot Creative, Fixer Creative, Design Rangers, Magneti Marketing, Ruckus Apparel and LastLeaf Printing.

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