Boulder this weekend: Spamalot, Pridefest and Russian Avant-Garde

By Jessica Caballero

Boulder Dinner Theater presents “Spamalot”

Juliet Whittman of Westword previews Boulder Dinner Theater’s “Spamalot,” which begins its run this week through March 2014. Playwright, lyricist, and composer Eric Idle worked with composers John Du Prez and Neil Innes to create the Tony award winning musical “ripped lovingly from the 1975 motion picture ‘Monty Python and the Holy Grail’.”

10th Annual Boulder Pridefest – for the first time at the Boulder Theater

The 10th Annual Boulder Pridefest is happening this weekend for the first time at the Boulder Theater after being delayed by the September floods. This year, the festival will be featuring Denver natives The Tah Tahs, burlesque and drag, and aerial dancers. The main event will be on Saturday night from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the Boulder Theater, with a  21 and older after party for an additional cost, beginning at 9 p.m. with proceeds going to Out Boulder for losses sustained postponing the festival.

Adam Lerner’s “From Russia With Drinks” book conversation and presentation

On her blog page for Westword, Bree Davies discusses an exhibition of Russian Avant-Garde pieces with Adam Lerner, director at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver. A conversation and presentation of his new book “From Russia With Drinks” about how he acquired these pieces and what it took to exhibit them will take place at the MCA Denver on Saturday, November 23 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.


Boulder County arts educators will carry on, even without Amendment 66 tax revenue

By Jessica Caballero

Supporters of the failed tax-increase measure Amendment 66 touted that the money raised would give administrators flexibility in restoring arts education around the state. So the measure’s resounding defeat must mean a reduction in arts education, right?

Not in Boulder County schools, district officials say, at least in part because the county’s districts didn’t cut arts in the first place.

Before the vote, Douglass Elementary Principal Jon Wolfer said that the passage of Amendment 66 would “enable the district to funnel money towards other school needs that have been neglected in the past.”

Now, a full 10 days after the election, Briggs Gamblin, Boulder Valley School District’s director of communications, says arts education in the district will not need to borrow from other programs to remain.

“We did not cut arts programs as a result of budget cuts, so that part of it did not apply to us,” Gamblin said.

John Poynton of St. Vrain Valley School District said that their arts programs were safe as well. The district had money already set in the budget for arts funding, so those programs will not suffer.

In fact, arts programs throughout the state of Colorado seem to be flourishing.


In the 2012-2013 school year, music is the most widely offered program in Colorado schools, followed by visual arts, theater and dance.

Here is the breakdown of how many schools offer specific arts programs:

  • Music, 1,645 schools (90.8 percent of all schools)
  • Visual arts, 1,596 (87.9 percent)
  • Theater 612 (33.7 percent)
  • Dance 273 (15 percent)

The study also showed that out of 435 responding schools across Kindergarten to 12th grades, almost half of all schools believe that the funding for arts education has decreased in the last five years.

Yet, the study revealed that half of all schools, at every level, also received outside funding for their arts education programs. Half of the funding that those schools acquire comes from partnerships with other arts institutes and organizations.

The study approximates that only 29,000 Colorado public school students attend schools without any exposure to formal arts education.

The discrepancy in the course offerings in any discipline could be due to the availability of qualified teachers and time for those courses, according to Karol Gates, arts content specialist for the Colorado Department of Education.

“In general, providing full-time, highly-qualified teachers in the four arts areas can overstretch a school’s budgetary constraints. Scheduling issues – lack of sufficient time allotted – for arts programming is also a concern that often occurs,” Gates said.

But not to worry, the study found that on the whole, Colorado school administrators believe in the value of arts education, though emphases have shifted in the past five years.

According to the Colorado Visual and Performing Arts Education Survey published in March of 2008 by Cypress Research Group, formal arts education was available for 93 percent of kindergarten through fifth grade students, 86 percent of sixth through eighth graders, and 83 percent of high school students in ninth grade and above.

In the 2007-2008 school year, visual arts education was the most frequently represented in middle schools and high schools, with music courses in a close second, with theater arts and dance lagging behind by a huge margin.

In elementary schools, 88 percent had visual arts courses, 94 percent had music, only 11 percent had theater, and 20 percent had dance instruction.

In middle schools, 66 percent had visual arts, 61 percent music, 22 percent theater and 11 percent dance.

High schools had the least overall arts instruction. Only 30 percent had visual arts, 26 percent music classes, 9 percent theater and a mere 3 percent had dance classes.

Spooky, symphonic and savory savoir-faire in Boulder this Saturday

By Jessica Caballero

HorrorHouse Fest fall haunted bar and film experience

HorrorHouse Fest at Three Kings Tavern on South Broadway is a haunted bar film festival for those missing all the excitement from Halloween. Profiled by The Denver Post, this interactive haunted house features horror films throughout its production and will culminate in a viewing of “Thankskilling 3” at 11 p.m. The HorrorHouse will also include vendors, including comic book horror artist Stan Yan doing “zombiecaricatures.” Three Kings Tavern, 7 p.m. to 2 a.m., $10, 21+ only.

The Hero’s Journey: A Symphonic Tribute to Comic Con

Zaelyna Beck for The Examiner in Denver provides a preview of this weekend’s performance of the Colorado Symphony. Resident conductor Scott O’Neil will lead musicians through film, television, and video games in a tribute to Comic Con. “The Hero’s Journey” will feature more than 20 selections from some of the most beloved scores of comic culture, from Star Trek to Doctor Who. Boettcher Concert Hall, 7:30 p.m. $38-$88

“Lost on Christmas Eve” with Trans-Siberian Orchestra 

The famed Trans-Siberian Orchestra will be coming to Colorado Springs on Saturday and Denver on Sunday to present their rock opera, “Lost on Christmas Eve.” In their 15th year of nonstop touring, founder Paul O’Neill continues to focus on the orchestra’s unrivaled performance experience, “We’re using millions and millions of dollars on new special effects on the flight deck,” he said in an interview with Steve McElwee for the Centre Daily Times in Pennsylvania.

The West End Tavern’s “Bringing the ‘Q” to Boulder

This week is the last chance to experience The West End Tavern’s “Bringing the ‘Q” to Boulder County Farmers’ Market on 13th Street between Arapahoe and Canyon from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Featured are smoked Southern classics like pulled pork, wings, sandwiches and gumbo using farm fresh local ingredients.

Arts and entertainment in Boulder this weekend

Nov. 9, 8:30 p.m. — Elephant Revival at the Boulder Theater

Nederland, Colo. band Elephant Revival will be playing at the Boulder Theater on Saturday, November 9. The show, beginning at 8:30 p.m., will feature guest performances by artists Aoife O’Donovan and Lyons husband-and-wife band Taarka. Their sound has been described as “progressive edge” by The Indie Acoustic Music Project, as well as a mix of gypsy, Celtic, country, folk and rock. The quintet of musicians play a myriad of instruments including the banjo, fiddle, djembe, musical saw, stompbox, mandolin and many more. Elephant Revival is also known to be an especially social-conscious music group, performing for benefits and festivals like Campout for the Cause.

Watch Elephant Revival, live at the Boulder Theater in Nov. 2011

Special Event – MediaLive: Exploring Live Audiovisual Arts

This weekend at the Boulder Museum for Contemporary Art, MediaLive is a show exploring audiovisual art in a live setting, using human interaction, senses, live media tools and new technology to make unique forms of art. This performance goes through Sunday, November 10 as a part of Denver Arts Week.

While you’re there…

Also at the Boulder Museum for Contemporary Art until January 27, 2014 is an exhibit showcasing the work of Krysten Cunningham, Susan Hazaleus, Lynn Hershman Leeson, Barbara Hlali, Beryl Korot, Kelly Monico, and Marina Zurkow — female artists who have used technology and new media in their arts.

Archival Ink Jet and Mixed Media, Animation loop - Kelly Monico

Archival Ink Jet and Mixed Media, Animation loop – Kelly Monico

Pot taxes pass in Colorado and Boulder

By Jessica Caballero

Boulder’s taxes on recreational marijuana are going to be much higher than any other city’s in the state of Colorado, thanks to voters in this year’s election. Both Proposition AA on the state level and Issue 2A on the city level, passed definitively.

The good news for medical marijuana red card holders is that Proposition AA’s taxes will not add to their expenses.

Proposition AA passed with a final reporting of 709,690 — or 64 percent — voting in approval, and 382,289 — or 35 percent — against. This will mean two additional taxes statewide for retail marijuana sales. The first will be a 15 percent excise tax that will be added to a second 10 percent sales tax. These will be in addition to the usual 2.9 percent state sales tax.

Money collected from Proposition AA will go back into regulating and monitoring the retail marijuana business.

The City of Boulder, as well as the state of Colorado, plan to use money collected from marijuana taxes to help education. Proposition AA dictates that the first $40 million of revenue be earmarked for public school capital construction, which is much needed after this September’s floods hit several Front Range districts.

Issue 2A in Boulder will partially go towards marijuana education, so children learn the dangers of the drug while it becomes more recreationally available.

Ballot Issue 2A will charge a 5 percent excise tax as well as a 3.5 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana in the city of Boulder. Both taxes have the potential to go as high as 10 percent in the future.

Issue 2A passed with a vote of 14,581 votes in approval, 7,058 against.

This potential 20 percent in taxes for Boulder’s recreational, retail marijuana sales will be added to the estimated maximum of nearly 30 percent being added to recreational pot sales by Proposition AA statewide.

In other nearby marijuana tax news, the city of Denver also approved its own 3.5 percent city tax that will be added on top of Proposition AA’s charge.

Other cities around the state of Colorado also approved their own excise taxes on retail marijuana. See an interactive map detailing how these taxes are going to impact marijuana costs around the state.

Amendment 66 – Some pros and cons


Amendment 66 looks to raise nearly $1 billion dollars per year for Colorado public schools. This ballot measure will give Principals like Jon Wolfer of Douglass Elementary School in Boulder, a chance to expand programs —

Wolfer: Funding for kindergarten that would enable us to have full day kindergarten at Douglass, compared to the half time program that we currently have — and that’s a big deal, to get kids started off on the right foot in elementary school.

But Briggs Gamblin is hopeful. As director of communications for Boulder Valley School District, he told me how the money would be distributed —

Gamblin: Approximately $17 million in additional funding annually to address our vision, mission, and goals will be available. How that gets spent will be determined by the local school board and the budget process

But not everyone is convinced that Amendment 66 is going to do much for public schools. CU Boulder professor Michele Moses, a passionate activist for opportunity access for children in low-income families, sees one drawback to 66 —

Moses: It’s too easy for more advantaged schools, wealthier neighborhoods, to get more of the benefits than the lower-income schools who struggle more financially and I don’t know if Amendment 66 is going to help.

But despite the uncertainty of this ballot measure, Wolfer still remains optimistic for the students of Douglass Elementary if Amendment 66 were to pass —

Wolfer: It sounds like the district is considering expanding preschool, so that we can provide more preschool slots for kids, for 3 and 4 year olds — research has been pretty clear that early education, early efforts to intervene with kids who are behind will help get them on the right track for their public school education.

For Under the Flatirons, this is Jessica Caballero, don’t forget to vote on November 5.

Denver Arts Week from November 1 to November 9

by Jessica Caballero

It’s Denver Arts Week from November 1 to November 9, showing the best in arts, crafts, films and performance. This year’s honorary chair is Mary Louise Lee, First Lady of Denver. Lee is a performer and active arts supporter, inspiring the First Lady’s Bring Back the Arts Initiative. The Initiative sponsors many events during the festival and works to bring arts education back to public school children. Check out one Denver tourist’s guide to seeing the best this year’s festival has to offer.

Tonight is Denver’s Night at the Museums, with museums open late and offering free admission between 5 p.m. and 10 p.m. A shuttle route will be running between the museums, including the Denver Art Museum, The Denver Museum for Nature and Science, History Colorado Center, and the Forney Museum of Transportation.
Closing out Denver Arts Week is the Starz Denver Film Festival, with events running from November 6 to November 17 at theaters around the Denver metro area. John Wenzel of The Denver Post compiled five of the best in music videos, a surprise feature of this year’s film festival among the usual features and documentaries. Included in his playlist is “Music Video Mixtape Vol. 1” featuring local acts such as Esme Patterson of Paper Bird, and The Epilogues.