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Arts & Venues Denver: The city's artful merger of culture and concrete

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In cash-strapped times, governments have to think creatively -- and it was the budget crunch that led to the idea of merging the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs with the Division of Theatres and Arenas, itself a subset of the Department of General Services. That marriage becomes official tomorrow, with the introduction of Arts & Venues Denver.

When I first caught wind of the proposed merger, just the latest in a long line of changes in the way the city has set up its arts commission, the Denver Office of Cultural Affairs dealt with it on a secrecy level akin to the mission to get Osama bin Laden.

But it's no secret that this merger should help with both efficiency -- most of the events produced by DOCA have been in spaces that fall under the Division of Theatres and Arenas -- and costs, with a projected savings of $1.2 million per year. Kent Rice, current director of Theatres and Arenas, will be the director of Arts & Venues.

And, with a little luck and a lot of smart planning, the new division could help the city both produce and push some of its remarkable arts programming, including Create Denver Week, which kicks off Thursday.

Now if we could just figure out a way to merge Create Denver with the far too broad Denver Arts Week in November....

More from our Calhoun: Wake-Up Call archive: "Michael Hancock and Chris Romer are locked in a political game of Survivor."


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