Andy Vick, executive director of the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, never had a master plan for life — but he’s developed one for the nonprofit he runs.
After graduating from the University of Pennsylvania he took on roles in government contracting, human resources and marketing. After meeting his wife, visual artist Beth Piver, Vick turned in his suit and tie to travel with her across the country selling art at local fairs and galleries.
“We had a very successful career in business, and it was exciting to be entrepreneurial and have that kind of opportunity,” he said. “I have a genuine passion for the arts and when you marry that with my business and administrative experience, I think it’s a perfect blend.”
For 10 years Vick served as executive director for the Allegany Arts Council in Maryland, and in 2014 moved to Colorado Springs to lead COPPeR.
This week he spoke with the Business Journal about opportunities in the arts sector, and why the arts industry plays an important role in economic development.
How does COPPeR give arts a voice?
Through important tools and programs such as PeakRadar.com, having a centralized calendar resource so that people know what’s going on in the community. You can’t engage in things if you don’t know they exist.
The Arts Month initiative is also important. It’s an opportunity every October to stand on the table and yell out, ‘The arts are here, we have a vibrant and important community, so get involved.’
We’re also involved in an economic impact study [conducted every five years] with Americans for the Arts, which gives us concrete data we can use in our advocacy work.
Is there enough local support for arts?
I think it’s growing, but there can always be more. I look at peer communities where there is great support from the public sector for arts and culture from corporate headquarters and great private-sector philanthropy. We don’t have the benefit of some of the big, major corporation headquarters in the Springs so that puts us at a bit of a disadvantage.
I think it’s our job to demonstrate why we’re important as a sector and why an investment in arts and culture is going to pay dividends for the business and tourism communities, and support businesses trying to do their thing in the Springs and the region.
What are the biggest needs in the sector?
More dollars is the biggest one. The more investment that is made in the creative sector, the more we can create new programming that will attract locals and visitors to attend.
Are there any plans gaining traction?
There is a group called Artspace — a nonprofit organization based in Minneapolis that develops, builds and manages affordable artist housing.
They just had a preliminary feasibility study last week. The hope is that we’ll be able to build new construction funded in large part through creative tax measures and incentives available at the federal and local levels. The hope is to create affordable artist housing in perpetuity so that this community’s economy continues to grow and we can ensure artists have a place.
What is your next goal?
To find a way to find some increase in public sector support for the work we’re doing. In most of my peer organizations across the country, instead of being nonprofits, they’re part of city or county government.
There is usually a line item in the budget that would support the work of a particular cultural office. We don’t have that luxury. We do get a little support from the LART tax, but in other communities, there are a lot more dollars designated for those kinds of taxes to support the arts and cultural sector. I would love to get to a place where we could find more resources not only for our office, but be able to pass on to other art organizations and do more public art in the community.
What else do you want people to know about you?
One of the fun things about me is that I live in a crazy, Pee Wee’s Playhouse-style home. It’s my wife’s creation, but I live in it and I’m immersed in art all the time. But I think my wife has a great talent. She really knows how to make a home comfortable and I love that around us are pieces of art that she’s created, done by friends or that we’ve acquired over the years in our travels. Art enriches your soul; it’s a link to memories and your story. Why live in a drab, boring world when you can live in a fun, colorful place that reminds you how wonderful art is?