Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS awarded $200,000 grant from Colorado Arts Relief Fund

Ent Center for the Arts at sunset with Pikes Peak in the background. Photo by Jeffrey M Foster
Ent Center for the Arts at sunset with Pikes Peak in the background. Photo credit: Jeffrey M Foster

The Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS has been awarded a $200,000 grant from the Colorado Arts Relief Fund to help the center continue to support the arts in the Pikes Peak Region — and the livelihoods of Colorado artists.

The grant will aid in economic relief related to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be used to support the general operations of the 96,000 square-foot, state-of-the-art building that houses the Galleries of Contemporary Art, Theatreworks, and University of Colorado Colorado Springs’ Visual and Performing Arts department. This grant award is part of the second round of funding from the Colorado Arts Relief Fund.

“Arts organizations thrive by bringing people together to experience the joy and excitement of creativity,” David Siegel, Executive Director for the Ent Center, explained. “The pandemic had a devastating impact on both our ability to serve our community and our financial bottom line.” 

The COVID-19 pandemic hit the arts industry especially hard. According to Americans for the Arts’ “Impact on the Arts” research update, arts, entertainment and recreation jobs dropped from 2.5 million to 1.2 million between February and April 2020 alone. Johns Hopkins University reported that, as of December 2021, the percentage of job losses at nonprofit arts organizations like the Ent Center remains more than three times worse than the average of all nonprofits. These realities have left arts organizations struggling to rebound even as pandemic restrictions have lifted.

During the height of the pandemic, ECFA provided financial support and employment to 175 artists while the physical building was closed to in-person performances and exhibitions. Ent Center programs innovated to bring the community safe arts engagement opportunities, including GOCA Digital; countless virtual talks and performances through both Theatreworks and UCCS’ Visual and Performing Arts department; and by further developing safe, exciting outdoor programming like the ongoing Arts WithOut Limits outdoor sculpture program.

Despite these efforts, the organization still feels the negative impact of COVID-19. The Colorado Arts Relief Fund grant will help move the organization forward to serve the community once again.

The grant funding will help the Ent Center continue to provide engagement opportunities to the community and livelihood to artists by supporting staffing and programmatic budgets. Americans for the Arts’ economic impact calculator estimates that the Ent Center’s pre-COVID industry impact was $4.5 million annually, supporting 141 total full-time equivalent jobs in the community and bringing over $400,000 to the region in local and state government funding.

The Ent Center anticipates a return to this positive local economic impact as in-person events have started to come back to the region. 

“The arts provide comfort, distraction and solace in times of crisis,” said Siegel. “It was important for the Ent Center to offer opportunities for students and community members to safely engage with the arts even during the pandemic. Going forward, we know that the cultural sector will play an important role in the emotional and economic recovery of our community. Financial support like this grant from Colorado Creative Industries ensures we are well positioned to serve campus and the broader community for years to come.”

About the Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS

The Ent Center opened in 2018 and fosters a creative environment that allows artists to inspire and amplify one another. Community members and the students and faculty of UCCS engage with the Ent Center’s artistic programming, including impactful performances, free gallery exhibitions, direct access to professional artists, educational opportunities and more. In addition, the center provides space for local organizations to present their own programming by providing access to theaters and/or auditoriums.

Find out more about the Ent Center for the Arts, including current productions, gallery exhibitions and other opportunities to engage with the arts and professional artists, at www.entcenterforthearts.org.