“HISTORY LIVE! Durango” will launch its second annual series of free September events despite the coronavirus.
Under the auspices of Colorado Humanities, “HISTORY LIVE! Durango” started last year as an experiment to see if a coalition of local cultural groups could organize humanities-themed events as a pilot project for Colorado. Last September’s lectures, family heritage activities, Chautauqua-style presentations and even a gala ball capped the inaugural offering.
The coalition, now named the Southwest Colorado Humanities Roundtable, forged ahead this year with primarily virtual events. A brochure has been printed, and for a full schedule, visit coloradohumanities.org/programs/durango-history-live.
“Or just Google ‘Durango History Live 2020.’ We are good to go. It’s an exciting lineup for our community,” said Roundtable Chairwoman Shelley Walchak.
Walchak, director of the Pine River Library and Pine River Arts, has headed up the coalition over the past three years with the able assistance of Darcy Poletti Harp, Pine River programming librarian. Together, they keep the day-to-day operations of LIVE going, but Walchak ultimately credits Florence (Foxie) Mason and Richard Ballantine for the initial idea and persistence.
“They are our two regional representatives on the Board of Colorado Humanities,” Walchak said. “For years, Richard and Foxie have worked to create a regional model of cooperation to advance the humanities. With the idea of pooling resources to create and promote events, their idea morphed a history month. And with the roundtable, we made that happen last year, and we’re forging ahead this year.”
The roundtable coalition includes: Animas City Museum; Durango Public Library; Fort Lewis College/Center of Southwest Studies/Life-Long Learning Program/Reed Library; Ignacio Community Library; Maria’s Bookshop; Rocky Mountain PBS; Pine River Arts; Pine River Library; The Powerhouse Science Center; and San Juan Basin Archaeological Society.
“The humanities is a big tent, and Durango has all the pieces,” Ballantine said. “Complementary schedules and marketing, with some collaborative additions, ought to mold the events into an appealing series of programs and events.”
One big difference this year is the absence of popular Chautauqua-style speakers, sponsored by Colorado Humanities. Professional scholar-actors present historic figures in costume and use their own words to dramatize an era in history. We won’t see Teddy Roosevelt or Madame Curie this year, but two innovative programs will run throughout the month. One is an art exhibition and the other a storytelling radio series.
“PIVOT: Skateboard Deck Art” is a large exhibition of Native American painting that just opened at Center of Southwest Studies on the FLC campus. To join a small group for exclusive viewing, call 247-7456 to reserve a spot during weekday regular hours. When you check the Colorado Humanities website, the “PIVOT” exhibition is the featured event.
Another unusual addition in 2020 is “Durango 1918: The Pandemic, The War, and The Peace,” a series of radio programs created especially for KSUT and hosted by Ted Holteen. The series brings to life the trials of ordinary citizens in Durango and Silverton as they struggled with two global calamities – the Spanish Flu and World War I. For program details, visit KSUT.org.