The ninth annual Business of Arts luncheon featured local performers — from poetry to hip hop — and gave out awards to businesses that celebrate the arts through creative workspaces, philanthropy and leadership.

A partnership between the Colorado Springs Regional Business Alliance and the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, the 2016 event took place at The Antlers, A Wyndham Hotel on Friday, Oct. 7. Visual artist Naard Claar’s work was on display and the awards were created by Jodie Bliss of Monument. Videos for the awards ceremony were created by Dave Franklyn of the Pikes Peak Library District.The Colorado Springs Philharmonic, The Broadmoor Waltz Club, jazz musician Tony Exum, Pacific Pride and Island Heart, Poet Laureate Susan Peiffer, the Liberty Belles Trio and J&J HipHop were performers during the two-hour event.

Winners of the awards:

  • Zeezo’s costume and magic shop, located on Tejon Street in downtown Colorado Springs, won the Philanthropy Award for its support of nonprofit theater community, school theater groups and other nonprofits. The store offers discounts to theater companies, offers free makeup consultations and tutorials for performers, partners on fundraisers and provides extended rentals for theater groups. “They are a vital part of the arts here because of the ways they thoughtfully serve the local performing arts community,” according to information provided at the luncheon. Other nominees were GE Johnson, which provided the funds for the Fine Arts Center‘ monthly free day at the museum event, and Nor’wood Development Group, which partnered with Ormao Dance Company to create an original site-specific dance performance called “Press” at the former Gazette building in downtown Colorado Springs.
  • The Creative Workspace Award went to The Catalyst Campus in Colorado Springs. Described as an “ecosystem for innovation,” the campus allows “industry leaders to excel, entrepreneurs to create and students to learn from the best.” The campus opened in June and features an onsite training academy to develop regional tech talent, state-of-the-art collaborative space and research labs. Other nominees were Blue Dot Place Apartments in downtown Colorado Springs and Sunwater Spa in Manitou Springs.
  • The Business Leader for the Arts Award went to Jerome Ajavon, owner of Trends of Africa in Southeast Colorado Springs. Ajavon started a carnival in 2011 that is now called Shades of Colorado Springs Festival. It’s the city’s premier event “to celebrate cultural diversity, equity and inclusion.” Other nominees were Farley McDonald of Adam’s Mountain Café in Manitou Springs and Greg Wellens of Adventures Out West in Manitou Springs.