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On Colorado Gives Day, here are 7 arts organizations that get it right

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Colorado Gives Day is an opportunity for both the state’s nonprofits and the good citizens who want to support them.

The annual fundraising campaign brings in big money — more than $70 million in 2022 — for some of the hardest-working organizations across the state that provide everything from education, medical research and animal care to employment training, homeless services and arts and culture (the area I write about all year long and watch closely).

Union Hall, the small nonprofit art gallery in downtown Denver, is finding its voice. This photo is from an exhibition by artist Juntae TeeJay Hwang. Photo by Ray Mark Rinaldi, Special to The Denver Post

For donors, the day — this year it is Dec. 5 — serves as a reminder to give, and provides a safe mechanism for sending money. The Colorado Gives Day website has an easy-to-use guide that explains what nonprofits are out there and how they deploy their resources in the community.

Still, it is hard to decide just where your money should go. There are a lot of causes and many of them are worthy.

So here are a few suggestions — all under the umbrella of arts and culture. They represent just a portion of the groups that deserve support this year.

Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA)

DAVA works on the ground with young people in Aurora, teaching art skills while giving them a place where they can feel safe enough to express their creative ideas. The center’s free programming comes in a variety of forms: after-school art studios that are open to all youth: family art classes for kids under 5 and their parents; art-based technology training for older kids; and an intensive skills development program that helps teens gear up for the future.

DAVA is diverse, welcoming and dedicated. But it also works at a high level, using some of the region’s best artists and teachers as mentors for those who come through its doors. DAVA prepares young people to be engaged, open-minded citizens of the future.

Museo de las Americas

The museum is a well-known Denver institution, but lately it is full of fire — and great art exhibitions — that have given it a new energy. Under the directorship of Claudia Moran, the gallery program has grown enormously and taken the kinds of chances that deserve recognition and support. This year’s “Colombia: The Corn, the River, and the Grave” was a great example, bringing some of that country’s most respected artists here for a group show that no one else in the city would have produced.

These are tense political times, no doubt, and the museo provides a forum for dialogue that meets the moment.

Levitt Pavilion

Scenes from the VIP section at the DeVotchKa concert on May 21, 2021, just one week after Levitt reopened following 2020's pandemic-related closure. (Beth Rankin, The Denver Post)
Scenes from the VIP section at the DeVotchKa concert on May 21, 2021, just one week after Levitt reopened following 2020’s pandemic-related closure. (Beth Rankin, The Denver Post)

When Levitt came around a few years back, it delivered just what the city needed: a place where people could come together over music and art in an affordable way. The venue produces scores of concerts each year, and many of them are free.

Without the need to sell tickets, programmers have the luxury of booking talent that is top-notch, even though it may not come with the guarantee of big audiences. They can take chances — and they do — bringing in a diverse lineup of performers that serve every musical taste.  For audiences, Levitt is a place to experiment with music, risk-free and fun-filled.

RedLine Art Center

RedLine does it all — and all on a meager budget. The center hosts no-cost, multi-year studio residencies for local artists, helping them to build skills and a network that will nurture their careers. The center also produces top-notch exhibits by artists from Colorado and beyond that are open to the public, for free, year-round.

It also works with the community in its Curtis Park neighborhood through multiple programs, including regular art classes for homeless people. RedLine manages to be an elegant place and a welcoming space at the same time.

Union Hall

Union Hall, the small, non-profit art gallery downtown, has been lingering on the edges of the art scene here for a while, not quite knowing where it fits in. But it seems to have found its voice lately, staging exhibitions that connect local artists to audiences while also being a lot of fun to visit.  Credit that to curator Esther Hz and an open mind about what Denver art lovers ought to see.

The programming is always free, and that is a good reason to give back with some financial support.

Latino Cultural Arts Center

Inside the warehouse that will be home to Las Bodegas in Denver on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. (Photo by Rebecca Slezak/Special to The Denver Post)
Inside the warehouse that will be home to Las Bodegas in Denver on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. (Photo by Rebecca Slezak/Special to The Denver Post)

A donation to LCAC is a bet on the future. The organization has plans to develop a multi-campus community center in an area that spans the Sun Valley and La Alma Lincoln Park neighborhoods. It will host galleries, artist studios, a museum and places for learning and celebration. The project would convert two existing warehouses into what will be called Las Bodegas.

LCAC has seed money and plenty of ambition; the idea is to build a place that will serve local needs but also draw visitors from far and wide. But it still needs a broad coalition of support to become a reality.

Friends of Chamber Music

No local organization is more organized or on-target than Friends of Chamber Music, which presents a series of intimate classical concerts every year. Friends gets its programming right, responding to trends in both classical and current events that keep the concerts meaningful. It also programs ambitiously, bringing in string quartets, trios, soloists and more from across the globe. It is one of the few organizations that understands a world-class city deserves to experience the art of top-tier international talents.

Friends have been doing this since 1954, never for profit, always for the community.

Ray Mark Rinaldi is a freelance writer in Denver specializing in fine arts. 

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, In The Know, to get entertainment news sent straight to your inbox.


Colorado Gives Day is an opportunity for both the state’s nonprofits and the good citizens who want to support them.

The annual fundraising campaign brings in big money — more than $70 million in 2022 — for some of the hardest-working organizations across the state that provide everything from education, medical research and animal care to employment training, homeless services and arts and culture (the area I write about all year long and watch closely).

Union Hall, the small nonprofit art gallery in downtown Denver, is finding its voice. This photo is from an exhibition by artist Juntae TeeJay Hwang. Photo by Ray Mark Rinaldi, Special to The Denver Post
Union Hall, the small nonprofit art gallery in downtown Denver, is finding its voice. This photo is from an exhibition by artist Juntae TeeJay Hwang. Photo by Ray Mark Rinaldi, Special to The Denver Post

For donors, the day — this year it is Dec. 5 — serves as a reminder to give, and provides a safe mechanism for sending money. The Colorado Gives Day website has an easy-to-use guide that explains what nonprofits are out there and how they deploy their resources in the community.

Still, it is hard to decide just where your money should go. There are a lot of causes and many of them are worthy.

So here are a few suggestions — all under the umbrella of arts and culture. They represent just a portion of the groups that deserve support this year.

Downtown Aurora Visual Arts (DAVA)

DAVA works on the ground with young people in Aurora, teaching art skills while giving them a place where they can feel safe enough to express their creative ideas. The center’s free programming comes in a variety of forms: after-school art studios that are open to all youth: family art classes for kids under 5 and their parents; art-based technology training for older kids; and an intensive skills development program that helps teens gear up for the future.

DAVA is diverse, welcoming and dedicated. But it also works at a high level, using some of the region’s best artists and teachers as mentors for those who come through its doors. DAVA prepares young people to be engaged, open-minded citizens of the future.

Museo de las Americas

The museum is a well-known Denver institution, but lately it is full of fire — and great art exhibitions — that have given it a new energy. Under the directorship of Claudia Moran, the gallery program has grown enormously and taken the kinds of chances that deserve recognition and support. This year’s “Colombia: The Corn, the River, and the Grave” was a great example, bringing some of that country’s most respected artists here for a group show that no one else in the city would have produced.

These are tense political times, no doubt, and the museo provides a forum for dialogue that meets the moment.

Levitt Pavilion

Scenes from the VIP section at the DeVotchKa concert on May 21, 2021, just one week after Levitt reopened following 2020's pandemic-related closure. (Beth Rankin, The Denver Post)
Scenes from the VIP section at the DeVotchKa concert on May 21, 2021, just one week after Levitt reopened following 2020’s pandemic-related closure. (Beth Rankin, The Denver Post)

When Levitt came around a few years back, it delivered just what the city needed: a place where people could come together over music and art in an affordable way. The venue produces scores of concerts each year, and many of them are free.

Without the need to sell tickets, programmers have the luxury of booking talent that is top-notch, even though it may not come with the guarantee of big audiences. They can take chances — and they do — bringing in a diverse lineup of performers that serve every musical taste.  For audiences, Levitt is a place to experiment with music, risk-free and fun-filled.

RedLine Art Center

RedLine does it all — and all on a meager budget. The center hosts no-cost, multi-year studio residencies for local artists, helping them to build skills and a network that will nurture their careers. The center also produces top-notch exhibits by artists from Colorado and beyond that are open to the public, for free, year-round.

It also works with the community in its Curtis Park neighborhood through multiple programs, including regular art classes for homeless people. RedLine manages to be an elegant place and a welcoming space at the same time.

Union Hall

Union Hall, the small, non-profit art gallery downtown, has been lingering on the edges of the art scene here for a while, not quite knowing where it fits in. But it seems to have found its voice lately, staging exhibitions that connect local artists to audiences while also being a lot of fun to visit.  Credit that to curator Esther Hz and an open mind about what Denver art lovers ought to see.

The programming is always free, and that is a good reason to give back with some financial support.

Latino Cultural Arts Center

Inside the warehouse that will be home to Las Bodegas in Denver on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. (Photo by Rebecca Slezak/Special to The Denver Post)
Inside the warehouse that will be home to Las Bodegas in Denver on Thursday, Aug. 17, 2023. (Photo by Rebecca Slezak/Special to The Denver Post)

A donation to LCAC is a bet on the future. The organization has plans to develop a multi-campus community center in an area that spans the Sun Valley and La Alma Lincoln Park neighborhoods. It will host galleries, artist studios, a museum and places for learning and celebration. The project would convert two existing warehouses into what will be called Las Bodegas.

LCAC has seed money and plenty of ambition; the idea is to build a place that will serve local needs but also draw visitors from far and wide. But it still needs a broad coalition of support to become a reality.

Friends of Chamber Music

No local organization is more organized or on-target than Friends of Chamber Music, which presents a series of intimate classical concerts every year. Friends gets its programming right, responding to trends in both classical and current events that keep the concerts meaningful. It also programs ambitiously, bringing in string quartets, trios, soloists and more from across the globe. It is one of the few organizations that understands a world-class city deserves to experience the art of top-tier international talents.

Friends have been doing this since 1954, never for profit, always for the community.

Ray Mark Rinaldi is a freelance writer in Denver specializing in fine arts. 

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter, In The Know, to get entertainment news sent straight to your inbox.

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