Known for its long-standing events like Art in the Park, Holidays in the Rockies artisan market, summer creativity camps for kids, and more, Steamboat Creates quickly adapted to support its local artists and the creative sector with several new online initiatives.



“Within a week of the statewide stay-at-home order, our Program Director Sylvie Piquet was putting Young at Art videos online,” McKinley says. These short videos offered tutorials for art projects parents could do with their kids using everyday household items. “That has been really popular with parents.”



To better serve visual artists, a page has been established for each gallery on the Steamboat Creates website to bring the First Friday Artwalk tradition online. There are also pages for performing arts organizations, writers, and more. “The question is, how do we get people to continue to engage? We’re trying to incorporate visual arts, design, music, performance art, and dance. We have different pages for each, which is super exciting,” McKinley says.



The organization also offers monthly creative mixers with different topics each week. “You don’t have to be part of the creative community to participate,” McKinley says. “Everyone is welcome to drop in. The goal is to support our community through connections and conversations around creativity.”

Every week, participants from the Steamboat community gather online for Pivot Point, a free program that provides creative tools for personal empowerment. “This is a way for people who are dealing with grief, stress, or hardship to work through their feelings using different creative disciplines,” says Dagny McKinley, Development Director for Steamboat Creates. “There’s a vulnerability in it that’s very powerful.” Sessions are led on Zoom and are free and open to anyone who wants to attend. There is a mental health professional in attendance to assist with anyone who needs additional support during or after the sessions by phone or email.



The group engages in different creative projects designed to help process their emotions. One week they made mandalas divided into three sections using colors and words to reflect what they were feeling. Another activity used blackout poetry where participants would circle words that were interesting, black out all the others, and then use those words to create a shape as the basis for a drawing. “One week, I could hear someone sobbing and just witnessing that emotional release was so powerful. People don’t always think of art or creativity as a way of coping with difficult emotions. But it’s helpful for everyone, from children to the elderly, to be able to express emotions without having to use words.” she says.

With the success of the Pivot Point program, there are plans to continue to incorporate each artistic discipline to a 6-week series that will extend through the summer season. The series will continue into fall, but the focus will shift from dealing with Covid-19 to helping victims of sexual assault and domestic violence.



Even though the need for online programs comes at a challenging time, it’s a reminder of how the Steamboat community always finds a way to come together and support one another. “People always talk about coming here for the community. Every time we have a crisis, everyone steps in to help. We are looking at how we can help our community through art, how we can keep people entertained and engaged, and how we can provide different outlets to creativity. It provides us all with a much needed escape during these hard times, and we want to make sure we keep it going.” //