Linda Weise founded the Colorado Springs Conservatory (CSC) in 1994. Recently, we spoke to Linda who revealed more to us about the accomplishments of CSC and her new company, Vortici, LLC.
In 1994, Linda Weise founded the Colorado Springs Conservatory (CSC). Always a non-auditioned, arts immersion and fully comprehensive program, the Conservatory was originally intended for young people interested in pursuing collegial level studies and a career in the arts. Over the course of time, programs grew to include younger students whose families wanted to find a ‘ safe and creative ’ space for their children to study the performing arts, though their goals may be outside of the arts. After school programs in music and theatre are now offered for students ages three years to eighteen years. Evolution of the CSC then included daytime partnerships with local school districts and community programs for their military partners, adult piano classes as well as music programs for young people with special needs. Students study individual lessons on any given instrument and focus and additionally engage in composition, theory, theatre, performance, recording arts, movement and piano studies.
The CSC has evolved to nearly 70+ mentors and arts immersion programming offered six days a week, fourteen hours a day.
The successes of CSC include:
• Numerous regional and national recognition
• 100% high school graduates gain entrance to 100% of the colleges, conservatories and universities of their choosing
• 99% of the at risk youth from the daytime Partner Programs graduate high school
• 100% of the enrolled students in all programs gain confidence, self-awareness, situational awareness, self and mutual respect and resilience. These are all factors that weigh heavily into young people growing up to be productive and contributing citizens
Vortici, LLC came about in 2016 as a producing vehicle to provide support for creative work from the alumni and mentors from the Conservatory, as well as other emerging and established artists. Additionally, communities from around the globe were interested in establishing a similar program to CSC in their regions and looking for guidance and support. Vortici, LLC is that producing mechanism. Additionally, Linda is proud to have launched Vortici, LLC with her eldest daughter, C.C. Wells as the creative partner. Vortici, LLC will always stay close to the CSC and have a ‘social enterprise’ element to the business model.
Going into detail about the CSC mission, Linda informs us of the outcomes the team hope to achieve. Additionally, Linda also details Vortici LLC’s overall mission and the steps they take to achieve them.
“The Mission of the Colorado Springs Conservatory is to inspire, motivate and challenge students to aspire to their highest potential as artists and human beings through arts immersion studies and community arts advocacy. The CSC has become ‘a go to’ institution for families and students in the Pikes Peak Region and the state who desire not only excellent arts training, but that safe and creative space that has become such a necessary part of a healthy and well-rounded upbringing and lifestyle.
“Vortici, LLC is ‘dedicated to recognising and forging opportunity in culture, the arts and arts education’. This company is fairly new, however I am thrilled at the exciting prospects that are already coming our way both in the US and abroad. Our reputation with the CSC has certainly contributed to the opportunities that are presenting themselves to Vortici, LLC.”
When undertaking a new project, Linda explains to us the steps both CSC & Vortici LLC take to ensure the clients receive the best possible outcome.
“Both my experience, training and personal upbringing has taught me to pay close attention to people, building trust and working to understand as fully as possible how best to serve your clients as partners. Each project is different and you must take time to learn as much as possible about each one. When launching a project with a client, I have learned that assembling the right support team is essential to the project or client success. It then becomes a delicate balance of honouring culture of the parties involved, keeping communication open and maintaining a positive a vigorous plan of benchmarks, goals and celebrating the accomplishments along the way. Clients for us include the children, their families, communities as well as civic and arts partners. I find the most often, clients don’t understand what is possible when working with the CSC and our team. Once we have established a trusting relationship of sharing and listening, we can open their eyes to a world of inspired possibilities.”
As for what differentiates CSC from their competitors, Linda reveals the key elements that mark them out as the best possible option for clients, as well as touching on how Vortici, LLC come to be after so many years with CSC.
“In my travels, I have learned that CSC is a very unique institution, not only in our region, but across the US and around the globe. The pedagogy is strong and quite frankly, in so many ways, the same methodology that Bach and Beethoven and Shakespeare used in their days. So much of what we teach comes from my own inspired training at institutions such as Oberlin Conservatory, Aspen Music Festival, Chautauqua Institute and the Juilliard School. What sets us apart is how we deliver the curriculum, our space/ecosystem, our commitment to engaging the students in the community in extraordinary ways and our willingness to collaborate to create the best experience possible for each individual student. We call this model the ‘C 5th power’; Children, Community, Creativity, Collaboration, and Community. All must be present for us to ensure success for any given program or student. This formula also affords sustainability, as you are committed to remaining relevant to not only the wisdom of the past, but the ‘now’ of society-key to today’s ever changing world.”
Speaking of today’s ever changing world, Linda believes that it is an exciting time to be in any industry, since idea sharing and creativity that is occurring on a global scale is truly exhilarating, as Linda explains.
“There are so many ways to understand trends and witness activity and make new friends through the internet that it is enough to try to keep up, yet alone stay ahead. At the end of the day, we count on word of mouth and references, whether it’s a new way of communicating a curriculum or an upcoming brilliant performance project and artist. We have a broad network of artists and art lovers who are constantly sharing concepts and pieces of work with us, which enables us to always be fully engaged to best understand emerging trends and developments.”
Helping the firm keep up-to-date with the constantly evolving industry, are the talented individuals who form both CSC and in Vortici, LLC. Highlighting the diverse team, Linda praises the work they do for the firm, as well as explain how they attract the best talent in the industry.
“Personally, I strive to maintain a culture of ‘happiness’ at both CSC and Vortici. That sounds so cliché, but it is so important. It comes from that heightened awareness of truly engaging your team in their best ‘swim lane’; that is their profound areas of strength, and then additionally, affording them the opportunity to explore a proverbial ‘lane’ that will force them into a space where they may not be so comfortable. This constant act of stretching team through activities, new projects and training both situational and experiential allows us to maintain a happy rigor amongst team.
“Our team is so diverse in talents and experience. I am so proud of my team at Vortici and CSC. As for process, I have a team of folks that initially bring talent to the table, securing folks through the standard applications, recommendations and resume sharing. By the time I have the opportunity to sit with folks, I ask just a couple of personal questions one of them being, ‘What makes you happy? It’s interesting to see how folks react to that, as they remark that they are never asked that question. In a creative industry such as ours, it seems like such simple a question, with an equally simple answer. My instincts kick in as to how this person will be on a team when they answer this question.”
Bringing the interview to a close, Linda reflects on the current state of the industry, noting on some of the outside influences that are affecting it, as well as envisioning what developments she foresees.
“The state of Colorado maintains what it calls the ‘Creative Industries’. We all work hard at state, regional, city and neighbourhood levels to enhance and elevate all that that includes. The Conservatory is proud to be a partner with CCI (Colorado Creative Industries). As for arts and culture and arts education, there are many opportunities afforded young people and communities throughout our region. The CSC stands apart in its commitment to providing a relevant, individualised and well-rounded arts immersion curriculum for each student. Additionally, I feel that our collaborative and community efforts really set us apart. Our greatest challenge is overcoming the fact that there are now three generations of people having grown up without significant arts education in the schools, so we are constantly educating parents, families and communities as to the importance of the arts.
“It should not go unnoticed though that in many areas of our state and our nation, that arts education programs are in fact being eliminated or cut to a very minimal exposure. CSC has been flexible and eager to engage with those partner agencies to provide unique ongoing arts immersion experiences that directly impact student achievement and ultimate success.
“So much of the creative and artistic industry is affected by the world around us. Personally, I feel very strongly that the CSC and Vortici have an opportunity to not just react to the world around us in an immediate manner as so many artists do. I would like to believe that the opportunity we are afforded, through the young students we work with, is to teach ‘context’- to explore creativity in such a way as we understand the ‘why’, not just NOW, but in the past. The beauty of this thoughtful manner of teaching and performing is that you are then creating a generation that is not only talented, but immensely educated and tolerant. Isn’t that what the world needs more of?
“Also, I am excited about what Vortici will bring to the region, nation and international conversations around arts and culture, particularly in our part of the nation. As the Conservatory alumni come back after college studies and a bit of worldly experience, I really want nothing more than to continue to provide a platform for their continued creative contributions.”
Moving forward, the CSC is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary in Colorado Springs. Talking about this milestone, Linda is keen to highlight the accomplishments the firm have achieve throughout the years.
“The CSC is about to celebrate its 25th anniversary here in Colorado Springs, and it is an exciting and monumental moment for us. Historically, there have been many similar programs that have been launched and failed in our region and state. I am so proud that we have been able to evolve, develop and stay relevant with grace and strength. Our alumni are making impact all over the world, telling the story of their roots and the importance of the work at the CSC. The alumni are performing and visual artists, yes, but also doctors, engineers, architects, historians, lawyers. We hope that the message that we send is that of the importance of the arts and culture to the greater good of humanity and the future.
“I am certain that the combination of arriving at 25 years and the birth of Vortici, LLC afford both entities the ability to continue to provide creative opportunities for artists in unique and meaningful ways. Additionally, I am truly humbled to be able to be able to have this conversation with this audience. When we speak about social impact, we must include power that understanding culture, not just as it relates to a particular sort of art, but the culture of a people, is truly the way forward to a tolerant and inclusive world.
“The original musical, JACK, a moral musical tale is about to premier at the end of June 2018. The creative team, brilliant student and professional cast will no doubt elevate the work to unimagined heights. This particular story of a reformed bully is timely and undoubtedly will speak to audiences in a very significant way. That said, I believe strongly that the entire world will want to witness this piece-young and old alike. Most of all, we are ready for this story and this production.”
Name: Linda Weise, Founding CEO and President
Company: The Colorado Springs Conservatory and Vortici, LLC
Address: 415 S. Sahwatch St
Web Address: www.csconservatory.org / www.vortici.org
Telephone: 001 719 577 4556 / 001 719 200 4463