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Art Outside and Online in the Face of the Pandemic with the Dairy Arts Center

As a hub of creativity and learning, the Dairy Arts Center encompasses a lot for the Boulder community. Their iconic building, a former milk-processing facility, hosts a wide variety of artists, activities, performances, classes, and more. Unfortunately, that is just the type of space that has been hit hard by the pandemic and social distancing requirements. Almost overnight, the Dairy went from a bustling center of activity to a near-complete standstill.

That quiet was short-lived, though, as the Dairy quickly pivoted to creating engaging online programming and designing innovative ways to experience art while socially distanced.

For audiences staying safely at home, the Dairy launched their Free Range Dairy program, a diverse collection of content including streamed arthouse movies with talkbacks, interactive artist workshops, authors talks, and presentations from local partner organizations like Stories on Stage, Boulder Ballet, and Boulder Opera. Looking forward to 2021, the Dairy will continue to offer streaming movies with talkbacks, there will be a weekend of virtual programming dedicated to Martin Luther King, and a series of arts education videos will be made free for the public.

Social distancing doesn’t mean that all experiences need to be virtual, and since the Dairy has always been an institution that thinks creatively about space, they looked at ways to bring the arts outside. They co-commissioned a beautiful Black Lives Matter tribute mural to Sandra Bland, created by a collective of artists called Spray Their Name, and activated their dramatic set of picture windows on their terrace with illuminated light art. Over the summer, beginning on June 12, they launched their first drive-in movie series in their parking lot, eventually expanding to outdoor concerts and stand-up comic showcases from their loading dock.

In addition to programming, the Dairy has taken this time to reevaluate their priorities as an organization, in particular when it comes to their antiracist work. The leadership recently joined fellow Boulder County arts leaders in a new Antiracist Action Initiative that launches in March 2021. The intent of the group is to use their positions of white privilege to help fight racism and work together to create opportunities and support for BIPOC artists and communities.

The pandemic may have significantly altered the way The Dairy could bring arts and culture to the Boulder area, but they met this challenge with a commitment to creativity, accessibility, and change.

Consider making a gift to a local arts and cultural organization, such as The Dairy Arts Center, or to one of the cultural relief funds. For even more ideas on how to give and support the arts this holiday season, check out all of the ideas at Arts through it All.