These Individuals Are Making a Surprising Impact on the Meeting Experience

Author: David McMillin       

When meeting professionals compare host destinations, the research is often grounded in numbers — hotel rooms, ballrooms, and airlift. These figures certainly play a key role in determining a location that will accommodate attendees, but statistics only tell part of what really matters: a compelling story that will inspire attendees to register and take time away from their busy schedules to discover a city. “We want to cast a spotlight on the people and places where a convention can become truly memorable,” Rachel Benedick, vice president of sales and services at VISIT DENVER, said. “Attendees want to learn and network during meeting hours, but they’re also searching for opportunities to immerse themselves in the local scene. They want to get to know what defines the destination outside our award-winning convention center.”

Benedick and her team are aiming to help event organizers and their attendees understand that definition with introductions to the creative thinkers who have helped establish Denver as the second-best place to live in the U.S., according to U.S. News & World Report. “There’s more than you can imagine here,” Cleo Parker Robinson, owner of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance and part of VISIT DENVER’s new Makers series, said in a recent interview. “When we started between 40 and 50 years ago, [Denver] wasn’t the cultural mecca it is now. Now, there’s something going on all the time.”

Robinson can take some credit for that action-packed calendar. From participating in the Mile High Dance Festival later this month to organizing contemporary dance programs specifically for convention audiences, Robinson is one of the long-standing leaders of Denver’s booming performance arts scene. While she has helped shape the city’s cultural renaissance, other leaders are flocking to Colorado’s biggest city, too. Newcomer Chris Dragon, the 26-year-old associate conductor of the Colorado Symphony, may win the prize for the farthest relocation after moving from Western Australia.

“Denver is an extremely creative place,” Dragon said. “With the Colorado Symphony, it encapsulates the diversity we have in Denver. Not only do we perform classical concerts of major composers like Beethoven, Brahms, and Mozart, we also commonly collaborate with [rock] bands like Gregory Alan Isakov, DeVotchKa, and Elephant Revival.”

“It’s a really exciting time for us,” Dragon added. “With world-class artists coming to Denver, there is a lot to look forward to. Our future is extremely bright.”

To understand the possibilities of that bright future, convention attendees don’t have to step inside Boettcher Concert Hall, the symphony’s home venue, or Robinson’s dance studio. In fact, they don’t have to set foot inside any physical building. They can simply take a look around and soak in the murals that have transformed Denver’s streets into outdoor art venues. “The roots of street art are graffiti,” Pat Milbery, a street artist, said. “But the term graffiti [can sound like] vandalism to a business owner.”

Businesses in Denver — including VISIT DENVER — have embraced such place-making attitudes. The organization partnered with Milbery to celebrate the 10th anniversary of its Denver Arts Week program with his “Love This City” series. “I’m so appreciative that we got to paint these ‘Love This City’ murals,” Milbery said. “The city needed it. There’s so much new blood here all the time. It’s a good reminder for the new folks to have a real appreciation for this place.”

As the city continues to welcome an increasing number of conference attendees and tourists, it will be easy to find plenty of other reminders of why coming to Denver was a good decision. Click here to explore more Makers stories that showcase the creative authenticity that distinguishes Denver as a top-tier place for meetings and events.

Want to connect with some of the city’s Makers to elevate your next attendee experience? Get in touch with VISIT DENVER.

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