Arts with Purpose: Catalyzing Civic Engagement in Denver

Numerous arts organizations in Denver have ulterior motives: They want to make the city a better place.

By Gigi Sukin
Confluence Denver

Pay no mind to the woman in tattered layers with dirt caked onto the hands with which she holds a cardboard sign. Disregard the worn-out sleeping bags strewn across the sidewalks and trash-bag suitcases that congregations of faceless men and women drag with them, perhaps their only belongings in the world.

Not engaging seems like a sound strategy: It’s self-preservation in the big city, right?

But if you mosey your way to Broadway and Park Avenue West in the northeast corner of downtown Denver, where three of the city’s human services organizations — Catholic Charities, Denver Rescue Mission and St. Francis Center — are within a few short blocks from one another. There, you just might fall prey to the inviting music and pitter-patter of ballet slippers, luring you to a set of open garage doors that instantly transform pedestrians into audience members.

If you can peel your eyes away from the studio rehearsal long enough to notice your surroundings again, you might realize that your fellow patrons are the same individuals you just ignored, and they’re equally mesmerized by the beauty of Wonderbound.

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