Breckenridge Creative Arts will close out its summer festival season with the mother of all grand finales. Returning after its debut last summer, the Breckenridge International Festival of Arts (BIFA) is a 10-day multi-arts celebration, bringing acrobatics, music, dance, film, street theater, art displays and more to the town. Multiple events are scheduled each day during the festival, both ticketed and free, at venues and sites throughout Breckenridge.
“We really like the idea of closing the summer with a big, spectacular multi-arts festival,” said Robb Woulfe, president and CEO of Breck Create. “There’s some really thoughtful projects on the season, and there’s just some novelty, entertainment. … Our audience member can dive as deep as they want to, and that’s what makes a multi-arts festival successful. You have this very eclectic mix of, one night you have an indie folk band playing mariachi, and the next day you have dinosaur puppets, while you can see an art installation on a trail.”
IN ITS SECOND YEAR
The festival debuted in 2015 with a positive response from the community and guests. Woulfe said he hadn’t seen this model of festival in the area, or even the state, and wanted to bring an event to Breckenridge that was multi-disciplinary and family friendly, providing something for everyone.
“This BIFA festival has this sense of adventure and creativity within it, and I felt like that’s why people live and visit this place — that sense of adventure, high adrenaline, and creativity and things like that,” he said. “I really felt like for our guests and our locals, it would be relevant to them.”
With the launch of the festival last summer, Breck Create brought in The Fruits, an acrobatic company from Australia, started the Trail Mix series, which combines art, music, hiking and biking along the trails of Breckenridge, and more than 100 trees were painted blue to create a dialogue about the rapid global deforestation.
“The response was really overwhelming — the number of volunteers that came forward — so it was great,” Woulfe said.
After a successful first year, Breck Create immediately began planning BIFA 2016, and how to improve on things that worked and retire things that didn’t work.
The Trail Mix series returns this year in partnership with Breckenridge Music Festival (BMF), which places environmental installations and musicians along the Illinois Creek, Iowa Hill and Moonstone trails. This year Breck Create has amped up the series due to the popularity.
“It was incredible just how that resonated, and throughout the season that component was very much beloved,” Woulfe said. “It was these found experiences, where some people definitely went to the concert, went to see the installation, but a lot of people were just biking, hiking, walking, and they stumbled upon this experience.”
On top of their work with the Trail Mix series, the BMF will be hosting several performances throughout the festival.
“We are partnering with Breck Create … because it allows us to explore a number of unique venues that are specific to Breckenridge, the trails being one of them, really utilizing all of the cultural assets that are here at our fingertips, and presenting music in ways that allow audiences that might not be interested in going inside and hearing a traditional concert in a traditional performance setting the opportunity to engage with music in a different way,” said Tamara Nuzzaci Park, BMF executive director. “It’s really a dynamic partnership using a lot of different elements and angles using our core musicians in a variety of ways.”
After the BMF Orchestra’s concert on Saturday, Aug. 13, it will be hosting Thought Bubbles, a late-night presentation at Old Masonic Hall at 10 p.m. There will be a champagne tasting followed by a conversation and performance with conductor and percussionist Steven Schick and celloist Maya Beiser. Schick is also playing a piece for electronic playback using the human body as an instrument.
Organizers look at a variety of things when choosing the performances and pieces for the festival, and work to find events that may not traditionally fall into their annual calendar. They also want to bring in unique performances that are participatory, where the audience can be socially engaged, such as an exhibit by Tasha Lewis. “The Swarm” recruits community members to help install thousands of cyanotype butterflies printed on fabric and embedded with magnets on metallic surfaces around town.
“We experimented a little last year with that, and we found people loved it,” Woulfe said. “They felt like they were a part of the art, and they are. In many ways they are helping create this experience.”
Music was big on their list, with the festival featuring performances by Breckenridge Music Festival musicians in both the Trail Mix series and several other events in the Riverwalk Center and on the lawn. Calexico, an Americana indie rock band, will play a ticketed event at the Riverwalk Center on Aug. 17.
Street theater is also on the lineup, with free performances by Saurus, featuring stilt-walkers in 18-foot-tall dinosaur-like costumes in the Blue River Plaza. Nonprofit organization The Moth will bring a lineup of storytellers for a ticketed performance at the Riverwalk.
Another highlight is a one-man circus with Switzerland’s David Dimitri. A Colorado premiere, his performance features a combination of acrobatics, music and dance, with Dimitri even becoming a human cannonball.
Installations will be kept on the trails after the festival is over during the fall months, so guests can stumble across these exhibits even after the festival is over.