The Pikes Peak Arts Council is a non-profit organization founded in 1968 to honor, connect, and enrich local artists, working to ensure that artists are thriving in, and essential to, the Pikes Peak Region.

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The ABE Consortium, a program of the Pikes Peak Arts Council, promotes the growth of cultural arts in education in Pikes Peak Area Schools (15 school districts).

The Consortium brings awareness of cultural arts programs in the schools to business executives, school administrators, teachers, and parents, presenting special recognition and awards given at an annual luncheon for innovative arts education programs, excellence in teaching and business support of arts education.

The Arts Council also presents artists awards and the Chamber of Commerce gives business and corporate awards for support of the arts. This luncheon brings artists, educators, and business leaders together to raise awareness and encourage expansion of Arts Education.

Recognizing business involvement in Arts Education at the annual ABE luncheon has resulted in increased interest and participation in school arts and cultural programs.

Each year, the Pikes Peak Arts Council gives Arts Business Education Awards to recognize innovative approaches in arts education in the Pikes Peak region. The Pikes Peak Arts Council is proud to assist in recognizing artists, educators, and business leaders within our community who contribute significantly to arts education. 

To make a nomination for the 2019 ABE Awards, please fill out the online form here

Arts Education Awards: 2018

Youth Recognition Award: Sand Creek Zone Arts Teachers

The Visual Arts teachers in the Sand Creek Zone of District 49 have a special connection to their students and the community. Each year, they host the annual Art and Design Expo, a unique, one-day event that is a culmination of many hours in the classroom with aspiring student artists. An Expo theme is chosen each fall to reflect the spirit of the community and current themes in modern and contemporary art. This industrious group of teachers then plans everything from lessons to the Expo’s public art booths. This team is committed to engaging the community and connecting with local agencies and non-profit organizations, with proceeds benefitting the Zone’s art programs.

Arts Opportunities Awards: The Machine Shop

The Machine Shop is a co-working space home to architects, developers, designers, writers, and more, and has truly taken the time to understand the arts community of the Pikes Peak region, curating artists and their work with care. The Machine Shop Residency Program allows emerging and established artists to experiment and cull techniques in a new environment, and the Gallery has showcased some of the most dedicated artistic voices in the community. The Machine Shop’s support of other businesses and programs throughout the city is a testament to their cooperative philosophy.

Arts Advocacy Award: Mary Mashburn

Dubbed “Fairy Godmother of the Arts” by a group of local high school students, Mary is well known for bringing people together around arts education, and has dedicated her life to ensuring that opportunities exist for young people to learn within all facets of the arts. Mary has served the Pikes Peak arts community for decades, including as former Executive Director of the Kennedy Center Imagination Celebration, as a docent and co- founder of the Tactile Gallery program at the Fine Arts Center, and as a driving force of many boards and committees. Her advocacy is best demonstrated by her tireless and sincere encouragement of others, and her own life-long participation in the arts.

Bee an Arts Champion Award: Sharon Fredman

The Bee an Arts Champion Award, presented by the Bee Vradenburg Foundation, honors the legacy of Bee Vradenburg by recognizing an individual who has demonstrated sustained, passionate and innovative leadership toward advancing the arts in the Pikes Peak region. Sharon Friedman has done more to advance the arts community in Colorado Springs than just about anyone since moving to town forty-five years ago. Today, we laud Sharon as the founding producer of the Story Project, but her community legacy is far more robust. She served on the boards of Theatreworks, the Business of Art Center and was on the original community funding panel for the Gay and Lesbian Fund. In the words of Bee Vradenburg Foundation Trustee, Noel Black, “Sharon is a consummate ‘shower-upper’ at art openings and performances throughout the community. She’s a true supporter and patron of the arts.” The Bee an Arts Champion Award honors the legacy of Bee Vradenburg by recognizing sustained, passionate and innovative arts Leadership in the Pikes Peak region. The award also comes with a $1,000 grant to an organization of the recipient’s choice.

Distinguished Visual/Literary Arts Teacher: Stephanie Moon, Fountain-Fort Carson High School

A proven painting instructor, Stephanie Moon has mentored numerous visual arts students to an award winning status. In 2011 she began the Partners in Art program for students with moderate to severe disabilities. Her Partners in Art course paired disabled students with other art student partners to help them develop and “find their unique voice” in visual arts projects. By 2015-16 the Partners program engaged 40 more students in visual arts based skill applications, then spawned other Partners programs for the disabled, including Partners in Swimming, Cooking, and Music – resulting in hundreds of disabled students finding their voice in the arts and other disciplines. Her principal writes: Stephanie has created an art department with grace, passion, and heart for her students.

Distinguished Performing Arts Teacher: Stoney Black Band Director, Air Academy High School- District 20

In his 15 year tenure Stoney Black has won a dozen Marching Band state championships. Under his baton the Air Academy Band has been the band champion in more than 50 marching competitions in Colorado, Texas, Missouri and Arizona. Did you watch the Rose Bowl parade this year? Then you saw the 200 students of the Air Academy Marching Band playing with high hearts and Rocky Mountain pride. In addition, Stoney mentors young directors and is a published author. His principal writes, “Stoney cares deeply for his students, especially those who do not fit in elsewhere, helping them find and express their unique voice in music. His crowning achievement is the thousands of students he has inspired with his passion for music.”

Distinguished Administrator: Dr. Nicholas Gledich, Superintendent, Colorado Springs School District- District 11

Determined to maintain support for the arts in D-11, despite budget cuts in many areas, Nicholas Gledich has maintained D-11 with a full visual arts curriculum including orchestra, band, and choir at all grade levels. A teacher writes, “He truly understands the need for creativity and the ability to problem-solve through the arts.” The arts resolution he supported states, “Arts education . . . is a core academic subject and an essential element of a complete and balanced education for all students.” As Nicholas plans his retirement, his teachers thank him for “the way all our lives have been enriched through his support and leadership.” Indeed, long into our future, we’ll continue to hear Nicholas’s strong, dedicated, and inspiring voice for the arts.

Ongoing Support for the Arts: Glenn Strebe, President/CEO of Air Academy Federal Credit Union

Here at the ABE luncheon, for several years we’ve had the pleasure of Glenn Strebe’s service as our master of ceremonies. As this year’s community service audit arrives we hear his voice for the arts and for education as:

• A Board member, and President, District 20

• President of the Education Foundation

• Sponsor, Air Academy Art Shows

Glenn’s peers write, “Glenn helped lead our district to be recognized academically not only in the region, but also in the state. He is in touch with the needs of others, is a dedicated family man, and knows how to build trust with positive relationships that result in lasting change. With Glenn’s inspiring voice for the arts, by the end of 2018, the Air Academy Federal Credit Union will have awarded more than $700,000 in art scholarships.

Community Support for Arts Education: Jill Tiefenthaler, Passport for the Arts Program

In an effort to maximize learning opportunities and incite a lifelong love and appreciation for the arts with area youth, the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center at Colorado College launched the Passport to the Arts program to fourth grade students and their families. The program offers a free one-year family membership to the Fine Arts Center, one free children’s ticket to each of the FAC’s Fall & Spring family theatre Music Room productions, 50% off tuition on select Bemis School of Art classes for the fourth grade student, and access to activities in the museum specifically built for fourth graders and their families. Since its inception last September, over 600 local families have signed-up for the program. This one of a kind program opens the door to in-depth arts education and cultural exposure for fourth graders throughout the region.

Unique Project, Fremont Art Relief Project, Michelle Senter, Art Teacher, Fremont Elementary School-District 11

It is one thing to make your voice in the arts heard locally, but Michelle Senters’ voice and those of her 489 students, was heard nationwide -- with her Fremont Art Relief Project -- when they sent student postal stamp artwork with messages of hope and healing, to cheer up and honor Houston postal workers who went back to work right after the hurricane. The Fremont Art Relief Project now includes a banner to the Parkland School students in Florida. At Open House Michelle hangs artwork so parents can see their students’ creativity and she offers art classes to staff to strengthen morale. A fellow teacher wrote, “Michelle’s passion for art and teaching has created a climate where her students thrive, where they can speak out through their art, and learn to share their voice and talent with others as well.”

The ABE Consortium is proud to offer micro grant opportunities for arts teachers in memory of Joyce Robinson, one of our founding members.

Our goal is to support teachers in the arts requesting funding for special projects or further education, for new projects, or for the continuation of an existing project.

“School Community Mural” Kyle Hills, CIVA Charter High School D11 Kyle is awarded $300 for CIVA’s student council to paint a mural on the outside of their building to communicate their enthusiasm for the arts.

“Spread the Love Button Project” Stephanie Moon, Fountain-Fort Carson High School D8 Stephanie is awarded $300 for supplies to make buttons to spread positive messages using student artwork throughout the school.

“Photographic Achievement Pin” Andrew Porter, Fountain-Fort Carson High School D8 Andrew is awarded $300 for lapel pins to promote, recognize, and encourage photography students selected in juried art competitions.

“African Drumming/Dancing Afterschool Class” Maria Navaratne, ARTs 14 D14 Maria is awarded $300 to help purchase Djembe drums so as to support very popular afterschool drumming and dancing classes for kindergartners to adults.

“Photography Experience” Lexy Vargas, Turman Elementary D2 Lexy is awarded $300 to purchase hand-held digital cameras to allow students to experiment with true photography to tell a story and to show mood and meanings.

The ABE Consortium Extends Gratitude To the following

for their Support and Donations:


Air Academy Federal Credit Union- Presenting Sponsor

Chuck Murphy Construction


Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region

Pikes Peak Pastel Society

School Districts

Air Academy School District 20

Calhan School District RJ-1

Cheyenne Mountain School District 12

Colorado Springs School District 11

Falcon School District 49

Fountain Ft. Carson School District 8

Hanover School District 28

Harrison School District 2

Lewis Palmer School District 38

Manitou Springs School D14


Shell Acker; Kris Anderson; Patti Boles; Nora Brown, Mary Beth Burichin; Mary and Jim Ciletti; Lisa Cross; Lew and Monica Davis; Suzann Dershall; Tom Fleecs; Bruce Grose; Charles and Jan Haley; Ramona Lapsley; Steve and Taffy Mulliken; Jennifer Mulson; Ana Olivas; Deb Thomas; Heidi Wooten.

2018 Mary Lou Anderson

Scholarship Donations Shell Acker, Kris Anderson, Lisa Beyerle, Patti Boles, Nora Brown, Mary Ciletti, David Crossen, Tom Fleecs, Rui Haagen, Jan Haley, Stacey Harris, Shirley Hill, Ramona Lapsley, Amy Lathen, Jamie Lester, Wayne Mashburn, Marilee Mason, Taffy Mulliken, Kathleen Murphy, Kayla Ross, Thomas Sandoval, Denise Stageman, Jan Tanner, Joanne Williams, Kalene Zaabadick, and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation

The ABE Consortium Committee:

Air Academy School District 20 - Shell Acker and Vanessa Scott

Air Academy Federal Credit Union - Kira Schubert

Bemis School of Art - Tara Thomas

Calhan School District RJ-1 - Jenifer Erickson

Cheyenne Mountain School District 12 - Chip Shaw and Jane Thomas

CIVA Charter High School - Betsy McClenahan

Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce & EDC - Nora Hardin

Colorado Springs Dance Theatre - Patti Boles

Colorado Springs School District 11 - Tom Fleecs

Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region - Andy Vick

El Paso Council PTA - Nora Brown

Falcon School District 49 - Lisa Cross

Fine Arts Center at Colorado College - Kris Stanec

Fountain Ft. Carson School District 8 - Ramona Lapsley

Hanover School District 28 - Tammie Hesse

Harrison School District 2 - Traci Quesenberry

Hooked on Books Bookstore - Jim & Mary Ciletti

Lewis Palmer School District 38 - Peri Davis

Manitou Springs School D14 - Denise Stageman

Pikes Peak Arts Council - Kate Perdoni

Website Design- Heidi Wooten

Emiratis: Kris Anderson, Dorothy Boyd, Jan Haley, Malcom McCollum, Taffy Mulliken, Skip Mundy

Posthumous: Mary Lou Anderson, Joyce Robinson

Arts Education Awards: 2017

Award in Arts Advocacy - Leah Lowe, District 12

“Ask any of her students,” says a colleague, “and you will find a child who loves Ms. Lowe.” 

Leah Lowe teaches art students at Skyway and Broadmoor Elementary schools to express themselves with individuality and technical competence. She collaborates with student groups to create campus-wide public art and works to involve parents. Leah is an active volunteer, member of the Colorado Arts Education Association, and President of the Board of public arts group Concrete Couch. Leah has propelled Concrete Couch, bringing art programs into the Senior Center and the homeless veteran's shelter. Through her advocacy and outreach, Leah single-handedly involves hundreds of children and adults in arts activities each year.

Award in Arts Education - Nathan Halvorson and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center Youth Repertory Theatre

Nathan Halvorson has developed year-round educational programming at the Fine Arts Center for children of all ages, including day camps connected to main-stage performances and school break theatre camps, as well as adult classes. He oversees the professional development of high schoolers through the Youth Repertory program, a five-week intensive training for students pursuing careers in performance and design. These students have gone on to perform at the FAC, as well as to study at some of the finest performance programs in the country. Nathan has led critically acclaimed productions and classes at the Fine Arts Center, the Colorado Springs Conservatory, and the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs.

Award in Arts Education - Aaron Cohick and the Press at Colorado College

Aaron Cohick is the Printer at The Press at Colorado College, offering workshops that teach students the basic skills of designing, printing, binding and publishing books. Aaron is an avid participator in community-driven arts projects, opening the Press to both students and the public to express themselves. He assists in producing posters to sell as fundraising projects for local and national organizations for which he has raised thousands of dollars, donating supplies and services. Aaron educates both students and the public about printing by offering broad accessibility. His independent press, NewLights Press, has published over 40 titles since 2000. 

Arts Education Awards: 2016

Youth Recognition in Arts Education: Sue Spengler and Xanthe Alexis, The Little School on Vermijo Music Program

Arts Opportunities in Education: Laura BenAmonts, Pikes Peak Community College Downtown Studio Art Gallery and Abby Kreuser, Kreuser Gallery for the PPCC Awards Show

Arts Advocate: Betsy McClenahan


Arts Opportunities Award:  The Manitou Art Center, Michael Howell and Amber Wyatt for Wunderkind, 2015

Arts Advocacy Award:  Aikta Marcoulier, Exec Director of Small Business Development Center

Youth Recognition Award:  Kim Costello, Academy Art & Frame Co.


Arts Opportunities Award:  Colorado Springs Youth Symphony Association

Youth Recognition Award:  Jay Patel and Sourabh Basak

Arts Advocacy Award:  Beth Carlson


Arts Leadership Award:  Donald T. Robinson

Arts Opportunities Award:  Ballet Folklorico de la Raza

Youth Recognition Award:  El Cinco de Mayo, Inc

Arts and Culture Advocate Award:  Senga Nengudi


Arts Leadership Award:  Victor and Barbara Tise

Arts Opportunities Award:  Concrete Couch/Steve Wood

Youth Recognition Award:  Colorado Springs City Council

Arts Advocacy Award:  The Warehouse Restaurant/Lawrence “Chip” Johnson


Arts Opportunities: Bemis School of Art

Youth Recognition: Ila Conoley

Arts Advocacy: John and Cindy Hooton

Arts Leadership: Linda Weiss

Youth Recognition: Posy Knight


Support of the Arts: Aventa Credit Union

Arts Opportunities: Club of Arts

Youth Recognition: The Laramie Project/Wasson High School

Arts Leadership: Marcia Hendricks


It's About Time: David Ball

In the Trenches: Greg Jamieson

Above and Beyond: Mary-K Burnett

Force for the Arts: Peggy Shivers, Shivers Fund

Force for the Arts: Susan Edmondson

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