Opinion Valley Voices - by Andrew Pranger
Vail Daily dated 01/02/2024
Pranger: Harmonizing winter splendor
The vital role arts and culture play alongside outdoor activities in the Vail Valley
Our valley epitomizes the term “winter wonderland” with its breathtaking mountain vistas and myriad outdoor activities that beckon adventurers from around the world. Yet, nestled amongst the snow-laden slopes and ski runs, lies a vibrant cultural scene that plays an equally significant role in shaping our communities’ allure during both winter and summer months alike.
Our community has done an excellent job juxtaposing world-class fine arts, theatre, dance, and music events with its legendary Back Bowls, Nordic trails, and freestyle courses.
At the center of this cultural amalgamation are the numerous community events and festivals that dot the winter calendar. What organizations like EagleArts, Vail Valley Art Guild, and the town of Eagle have accomplished with their Second Friday Artwalks is a perfect example. It’s not just an art event — it’s a celebration of the soul of our community and an opportunity to be exposed to local creatives and foster connections with fellow art lovers.
The Vail Valley should be proud that we offer an array of other cultural celebrations, from the Vail Film Festival and Vail Dance Festival to cultural staples like the Vail Valley Fine Art Show held at Colorado Mountain College each year.
While winter sports such as snowboarding, skiing, and snowshoeing form the backbone of our community’s allure for our many visitors, the presence of these cultural events acts as a supplementary sweetener, ensuring to attract a diverse set of visitors and maybe even future locals. I am sure we have all heard someone ask the question: What’s there to do after we’re done skiing for the day? Visitors should have an easy time immersing themselves in memorable cultural experiences — many of which are free to participate in.
To selfishly put on my local artist hat for a moment …
These events also serve as platforms for local artists to showcase their talents. Events like the Vail Valley Fine Art show, Eagle’s Second Friday Artwalks, and the town of Avon’s efforts to bring public sculptures and installations to our sidewalks provide a much-needed stage for emerging artists and makers to exhibit their work, massively contributing to our community’s cultural tapestry. It’s vital to show our far-flung visitors that we have some pretty talented creatives living and working here too!
The symbiosis between arts and outdoor sports in our valley extends far beyond just these events. Our galleries, like Vail International Gallery and Claggett Rey Gallery, and venues like the Vilar Performing Arts Center, are cultural institutions that stand as year-round repositories of creativity and expression. They provide a respite from an exhausting day carving powder and offer a place for quiet contemplation and cultural appreciation.
As our community continues to change, the seamless integration of arts and cultural events with winter outdoor activities remains integral to our identity — both current and future. These events and destinations not only diversify our valley’s offerings but also contribute significantly to our economic vitality by attracting tourists, supporting local artists, and fostering a diverse, multifaceted community.
Basically, what I am saying is this: come for the snow — stay for the culture.
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