Opinion: Our cultural downfall | indie now






Bryan Grossman, Editor


As a big fan of live music, I was thrilled when I first heard about Sunset, a planned 8,000-seat amphitheater on the north side of Colorado Springs. Local businessman JW Roth, who is also responsible for the 1,000-seat Boot Barn Hall inside the Bourbon Brothers concert hall, is the developer. But this paragraph from an April 6 article published by The Gazette gave me pause: “Roth said the Sunset will feature top talent – ​​’the same types of tours you’d see at Red Rocks or Fiddler’s Green’.”

Think about it: Colorado Springs is a city of over half a million people. The metropolitan statistical area has more than 720,000 inhabitants. Podunk, we are not.

Also consider: Colorado Springs has a bunch of music venues. There’s the Broadmoor World Arena, Pikes Peak Center and Weidner Field to name a few of the bigger ones. And there’s The Black Sheep, Lulu’s and Stargazers Theater on the smaller side. And this is just a sample.

Even so, the biggest acts that cross over the source material tend to start with “Disney” and end with “on Ice.” You very rarely see big names in musical entertainment (comedy isn’t much better) stop at the Springs. Why is that?

Again, it’s not the size of the city. I lived in Boulder for four years in the late 90s, a town a fraction of the size of Springs. There were nationally recognizable names that played this borough at least once a month. There have been plenty of opportunities and no shortage of venues for A-list artists to perform here in Olympic City USA. But when they do, that’s the exception, not the rule.

The reason, in my opinion, is our culture. After a rather dark period (the 90s) in the spring, it took decades for this city to establish a reputation as a somewhat welcoming place – but all that work is in danger of being erased.

Artists, whether musical, visual or otherwise, tend to be a fairly open-minded bunch. They also don’t like being told how to think and they generally avoid contrary places.

And just when the Springs cultural scene was starting to look like it had room to thrive, we see far-right candidates taking control of school boards; we see the constant and blatant blurring of the line between church and state; we are witnessing transphobia and racism vomited by public figures; we see those who would rather ban books than read them take over our public libraries.

We see our city moving in the wrong direction.

And we’ve been here before. Indiasister publication of , the VSOlorado Springs Business Journal, recently published an op-ed about the passage of Amendment 2 in 1992, which earned Colorado the nickname “Hate State.” This amendment, drafted by Springs-based religious fundamentalists, prohibited the state from considering homosexual or bisexual identity or activity to be protected in any way from discriminatory laws or actions. This is how Colorado Springs became the city of hate in the state of hate.

the business diary wrote: “Calls for a Colorado boycott in response to Amendment 2 – what organizers have called ‘the largest civil rights boycott in US history’ – have had real and lasting effects. Among them are an estimated $35 million in lost revenue from canceled conventions and a list of 112 people and organizations who have pledged to boycott Colorado, according to the protest organization Boycott Colorado. This list included Barbra Streisand, Madonna, the Kennedy family as well as the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and Harvard University.

Maybe nobody cares about Streisand or Madonna anymore — but they did in 1992. And who knows what acts might have come here in the last 30 years if Colorado Springs had chosen a different path. We can go ahead and build another venue, but until we do something about our decaying culture, many A-listers will likely continue to stay as far away from the Springs as possible.

But hey, we have a Whataburger…

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James C. Tibbs