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Sangre de Cristo Leads Creative Future of Pueblo, CO

Sangre de Cristo Arts Center thrives for nearly 50 years

By Patsy B. Weiler on August 16, 2018

Pueblo, CO
Pueblo / Jeff Adkins

At the heart of Pueblo’s creative community, beating strong for nearly half a century, is the Sangre de Cristo Arts and Conference Center. Adjacent to it is the award-winning Buell Children’s Museum, a source of enrichment in the lives of young visitors for nearly two of those decades.

Located at 210 N. Santa Fe Ave. just off Interstate 25, the three-building complex serves as an anchor for the Pueblo Creative Corridor, which meanders about a mile through three historic city centers.

“The Arts Center is in its 46th year of serving the community and is truly a cornerstone institution. We strive to stay accessible for all and offer programs for every age, demographic and walk of life,†says CEO Jim Richerson.

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Since opening in 1972 with a tiny staff of three and operating funds of $100,000, the center has grown to a team of nearly 65 full- and part-time employees, plus 133 artists, teachers and other contracted support staff with a gross annual payroll today of $1,069,220. Another $833,000 was spent on goods and services in the Pueblo area during 2017.

Array of Learning Opportunities

In addition to a strong economic impact, the center offers a colorful array of exhibit and programming choices to the public.

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There is always something new to see in the seven Helen T. White galleries which feature 24 new exhibits each year. More than 2,500 pieces are housed permanently there, including the collection of Francis E. King western art and the prints of Gene Kloss. The center stewards a collection estimated at $10 million and growing. From early June through September 2019, the highly anticipated “Luster: Realism and Hyperrealism in Contemporary Automobiles and Motorcycle Painting” will be displayed. The exhibit captures America’s love affair with cars and motorcycles and reflects a time when Pueblo was a leading producer of steel.

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Additionally, the center is home to the Jackson Sculpture Garden; a 500-seat venue for theater, dance and musical performances; space for events and weddings; a variety of studio and classroom spaces; and is home to the Sangre de Cristo Ballet, a community-based pre-professional youth company known for presenting the holiday tradition, “The Nutcracker,” and for children, “Nutcracker in Nutshell.”

Arts Education Classes

Comprehensive arts education programming has been a core focus of the center from the beginning, and today multi-disciplinary classes are offered for all ages in topics such as music, language, photography and more. 

For Hosanna Barton, a mother of four children ages 7 through 15, the center has been a vital part of their education.

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“It is important children get out and be exposed to different ideas and ways to look at the world.  With a family membership, it is very affordable,†says Barton. “I think my two daughters would set up a cot and move in if they could. They love the dance program. The instruction is the best in Pueblo, in my opinion.”

She also likes the $3 million, 12,000-square-foot Buell Children’s Museum, which has garnered recognition from Child Magazine as being one of the best children’s museums in the United States.

“It has an excellent environment,†she says of the children’s museum. “It is a great place where moms can meet up and let the kids play, learn and be creative.”

Another key component to the center’s success is its volunteers. In 2017 the group contributed 4,493 hours of their time with a value of more than $50,000.

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A young-at-heart, Jan Fish, 74, is a member of the Arts Associates and has volunteered for nine years.

“I get to see what a positive effect the arts center has on the community,†says Fish. “It is exciting to see the children coming back to the programs and watch how they have grown.”

The Sangre de Cristo continues to be a force in Pueblo focused on bringing out the best in others through high quality art experiences.

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