New First Friday shuttles to link downtown Colorado Springs, Old Colorado City

By Michelle Karas Updated: July 7, 2017 at 7:39 am • Published: July 5, 2017 0
photo - Logo for the First Friday Art Walk Free Shuttle Bus provided by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region beginning July 7, 2017.
Logo for the First Friday Art Walk Free Shuttle Bus provided by the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region beginning July 7, 2017.

First Fridays in Colorado Springs have long been a fun, free way to support arts venues downtown and in Old Colorado City.

While the two locales aren't far apart, the First Friday celebrations weren't physically connected.

But starting with the July 7 First Friday, the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region will offer free shuttles between some hotels and arts venues in both places. These are The Broadmoor, the DoubleTree, The Antlers, Cottonwood Center for the Arts, Fine Arts Center, Art Depot Galleries and Old Colorado City.

The two 29-seat buses will travel an hour loop for a four-month pilot program, for the Aug. 4, Sept. 1 and Oct. 6 First Friday Art Walks.

COPPeR had been kicking around the idea for a while "as a way to support both Art Walks, in Old Colorado City and downtown, and as a way to connect the two," said Executive Director Andy Vick. The shuttle also uses some revenue from the Lodgers and Automobile Rental Tax.

"For us, it's a great way to demonstrate how we can use those LART dollars in a way that engages tourists and plugs them into the arts," Vick said. "The (Pikes Peak) Lodging Association was excited about it as a way to provide more programming for guests."

Other hotels asked to be part of the program, but because organizers wanted to keep the loop travel time under an hour, Vick encouraged them to use their own transportation.

If the pilot program goes well, Vick said, he envisions a northern and southern route for the shuttles.

That hinges on getting more funding and partnerships, Vick said.

For the next four First Fridays, the shuttles will run every half hour from 4:30 to 10:10 p.m. to serve tourists, hotel guests and local residents. While most gallery events wind down by 8 p.m., more time in the shuttle schedule allows riders to get back to their car or hotel at a leisurely pace.

Each bus will have a paid host - someone from the arts community - to inform riders about the stops. The July hosts will be Jennifer DeDominici, a local opera singer and actress, and her husband, Mark Bittle.

"This is exactly what we should be doing as a local arts organization - not creating, but supporting the arts," Vick said. "Ultimately it will have an economic impact."

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