Siegel will get that chance when he soon takes over as executive director of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation. It’s that very organization, which helps fund the arts, that gave him the chance to study at the Colorado Springs Conservatory when he was in middle school.
Siegel graduated from the conservatory and went on to earn a bachelor’s in music in violin performance in 2012 from the Manhattan School of Music. It was an opportunity to learn from some of the best, but the 23-year-old musician and Palmer High School graduate was eager to return to the Springs.
“New Yorkers have this arrogant attitude that, ‘if it didn’t happen in NY, it didn’t happen at all.’ I couldn’t wait to move back to Colorado and prove them wrong. The Pikes Peak region has incredible artists doing incredible work,” he said.
Siegel says the Springs is in a unique position to emerge as a nationally recognized arts community.
What made you interested in the executive director job at the Bee Vradenberg Foundation?
I received a Bee Vradenburg scholarship to attend the Colorado Springs Conservatory in middle school. Years later I called Susan Edmondson on a whim, hoping to find funding for an internship I had set up at the Colorado Springs Philharmonic and Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region. Together we created the Bee Vradenburg Summer Fellowship in Arts Administration — the program is now in its fourth year. I have experienced what a tremendous force for good the Foundation is in the Pikes Peak region and the opportunity to continue this good work (and Bee’s remarkable legacy) was very exciting.
What are your goals for the first year?
Having recently moved back from New York City, my first goal is to meet with as many artists, patrons, business leaders, teachers, old people and young people as possible. There are so many smart people in this town and I’d like to get their take on the arts scene and the community as a whole. You could call it a caffeine tour of sorts.
What are some of the challenges that the arts face in the uncertain economic environment?
Great art that challenges audiences to think in new ways will continue to be a respite for our community in tough times. Art in the Pikes Peak region has come through the Great Recession remarkably unscathed (especially compared to other communities around the country). Because of this, we’re in a unique position to emerge as a nationally recognized arts community.
What role should the arts and culture play in defining a city’s character?
Good art is good for business, good for families, and good for a community. The Philharmonic, for instance, has a $2 million budget and a $7 million economic impact. Time and again, art and culture have been used to transform the economic environment in communities around the country- look at Charlotte, Boise, or Brooklyn. By continuing to support artists and arts organizations, we will attract industry, young professionals and cultural tourism.
What is your favorite thing about Colorado Springs?
It’s cliché, but the people. New Yorkers have this arrogant attitude that “if it didn’t happen in NY, it didn’t happen at all.” I couldn’t wait to move back to Colorado and prove them wrong. The Pikes Peak region has incredible artists doing incredible work. And that big mountain to the west isn’t bad either!
What was the last book you read?
“The Music Lesson: A Spiritual Search for Growth through Music” by Victor Wooten
Who are your mentors?
First and foremost my parents, Edie Greene and Alan Siegel, to this day they’re always happy to edit my work at the drop of a hat. Christina McGrath is a great role model for me as a young professional, and Linda Weise has been reminding me to practice my violin daily and say “thank you” since I started at the Colorado Springs Conservatory when I was 11. Lastly, I have the privilege of working with 14 incredible young professionals at El Pomar; their wisdom, friendship, and work ethic inspires me daily.