The mission of the MCC Center for Arts and Community Enrichment (CACE) is to enhance the quality of lives in our community through artistic, cultural, social, and intellectual activities.  Founded in 2011, CACE sponsors over twenty local events annually, featuring performing artists, speakers, poets and visual artists.   CACE operates Fort Morgan’s only art gallery, The CACE Gallery of Fine Art at 300 Main Street.  Many CACE events incorporate arts-related workshops for local elementary, middle school or high school students.

CACE has been an integral part of several community-wide cultural events, including the 2014 dedication of the Dahms-Talton Band Shell and the 2014 Governor’s Pedal-the-Plains event.

In 2016, CACE debuted “Glenn Miller: The Birthplace of His Music,” its first documentary in conjunction with Sleeping Dog Media.  Information about this project can be found at www.glennmillerdoc.com. It is currently available for viewing as part of the Glenn Miller exhibit at the Fort Morgan Museum and is available for checkout at the Fort Morgan Library.

For a complete listing of CACE events, please visit www.morgancc.edu/CACE.  Virtually all CACE events are offered free to the public due to the generous support of donors.  To make a tax-deductible donation to CACE, please go http://www.morgancc.edu/giving/ways-to-give/ or mail a check payable to “The MCC Foundation” to 300 Main Street, Fort Morgan, CO 80701.  Please designate your donation for CACE.  For further information, you may contact the CACE Coordinator, Suzanna Spears at Suzanna.Spears@MorganCC.edu, or by phone at (970) 542-3180.

The idea for a Center for Arts and Community Enrichment (CACE) began when MCC President Kerry Hart perceived a hunger for additional arts and educational opportunities in northeast Colorado.  A vision emerged that involved collaboration between MCC, existing arts organizations, businesses, and private donors to sponsor community events featuring high-quality performing artists, visual artists, and speakers.

In the fall of 2010, the concept was explored with key stakeholders, beginning with college staff.  After internal buy-in was achieved, a breakfast meeting invitation was extended to community members who have a connection to the arts.  “I remember sitting at the restaurant, wondering if anyone would show up,” Hart recalls. But show up they did–about forty strong, and the resulting synergy clearly affirmed the community’s support for the concept of CACE.

In the following months, CACE gained momentum. A Steering Committee was formed to provide overall direction, and the MCC Foundation agreed to serve as the fiscal agent.  Four subcommittees (Performing Arts, Visual Arts, Speakers/Authors, and Arts in Education) comprised of community members and college leadership began meeting regularly to plan events. Not long after, an official CACE office was established at historic 300 Main Street in Fort Morgan, and the lower level of the building was renovated to create the CACE Gallery for Fine Art (Fort Morgan’s first-ever art selling gallery).

The first official CACE event, “If it Ain’t Baroque,” was held in February 2011 at All-Saints Lutheran Church in Brush and featured guest organist Paul Stever and local musicians.  The inaugural concert, performed to a capacity audience, set the precedent for all CACE events.  It was a performance of the highest quality; it exemplified collaboration between two organizations in two different communities; and it was funded through a partnership between a private donation, a grant, and a contribution from a local business.

In the following months, numerous CACE activities were offered, spanning a variety of interests.   Guest performers included the USAF Falconaires big band (with educational clinics for local school groups); Donna Wickham (vocalist) and the MCC Jazz Combo; and the Empire Lyric Players (Gilbert & Sullivan’s operetta “Yeomen of the Guard.”)  Guest speakers Tom Westfall (author and local historian), poets SETH and David Mason (Colorado’s poet laureate) were featured.  The Gallery of Fine Art showcased art exhibits by local students, David Garcia (masks), Gerry Thiel/Sue Patterson (ceramics and water color); and local photography contest winners.  In addition, MCC’s own performing groups (the Platte Valley Festival Band, Morgan County Chorale, and Jazz Ensemble) offered a variety of concerts and CACE helped support several activities hosted by other organizations, such as the Brush Chamber of Commerce.

True to its initial vision, CACE continues to enrich the cultural arts in northeast Colorado with ongoing events.  MCC’s long-term dream is to develop a brick-and-mortar performing arts center to provide much-needed venue space.  President Hart is quick to point out that such a facility would be available for community groups, not just the college.  “Collaboration is at the heart of CACE,” he notes. “Our desire is to bring together all of the arts organizations in the area into one cohesive cause to optimize our resources–with a result of the sum being greater than its parts.”

Contributions to CACE may be made through the MCC Foundation, a 501(c) 3 organization. Donations can be given securely online at www.morgancc.edu/foundation, or call Kari Linker, Director of Development, at (970) 542-3113 for more information. CACE qualifies for the Northeastern Colorado Enterprise Zone, a community contribution tax credit program. Information about this tax credit can be found at the above website, or by calling (970) 867-9409.