February 5, 1999 Press Release


An award-winning Colorado composer and guitarist will make his digital debut on Friday, February 5, 1999 on the Virtual Chautauqua web site at 10:00 a.m. at the Colorado Council on the Arts, 750 Pennsylvania Street, Denver. Neil Haverstick, recipient of a 1999 Artist Fellowship in Music Composition, will present his web site and digitized performance of his original composition entitled "African Sticks".

This event will open the show for more than 100 Colorado performing artists whose work will be incorporated into the Virtual Chautauqua web site during the next two years. Larry Irving, Director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), a major funder for the project, will cut the virtual ribbon at Friday's press conference.

In Colorado, the ratio of music teachers to students is 1 to 700. The Internet, while not a substitute for live instruction, may provide one avenue for exposing children to a variety of musical and other performing arts experiences. These opportunities are also important for those with mobility challenges who spend much of their time at home.

Virtual Chautauqua, a $1 million outreach grant project coordinated by the University of Colorado at Boulder School of Journalism and Mass Communication in collaboration with the Colorado Council on the Arts, was specifically designed to address these issues. It will bring together performing artists, rural K-12 schools, and home bound people with disabilities. The project received $375,000 from NTIA with additional funding from 13 Colorado arts, education and telecommunications partners.

According to Bruce Henderson, Director of the New Media Center at CU and a project co-principal investigator, "Performances will be made available using streaming audio and video Internet technologies. While these technologies are receiving a great deal of attention in the commercial arena, Virtual Chautauqua will demonstrate how these technologies can be made accessible to the public sector." The university has a particular interest in Virtual Chautauqua as it complements its own Technology, Arts and Media curriculum that is part of the ATLAS (Alliance for Technology, Learning and Society) initiative.

Fran Holden, Executive Director of the Colorado Council on the Arts, concurs. "We are very interested in exploring how today's new technologies can help expand access, appreciation, and participation in the arts to all Coloradans. Publicly funded projects like Virtual Chautauqua will help provide artists access to technology they would otherwise be unable to afford."

Project staff will work with K-12 teachers in Northeastern Colorado to integrate performing arts content into lessons and involves students in related interactive online forums. Virtual Chautauqua will also provide small grants to individuals such as Haverstick to develop web sites, and other small grants to people with disabilities to support computer upgrades and training to make the Internet more accessible.

"The performing arts are ideal for putting new Internet technologies to the test," said Mary Virnoche, project research director and also a co-principal investigator. "In addition to the exciting programmatic aspects of the project, Virtual Chautauqua also provides a rich research environment," said Virnoche.

Virtual Chautauqua will be followed by an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Journalism and Mass Communication, Sociology, Anthropology and Education. They will investigate the social implications of the new technologies, as well as technological and policy related research questions.

The Colorado partners on the grant, providing in-kind and cash contributions, include AccessNet Communications, Arts Communications, Boulder Community Network, Centennial Board of Cooperative Education Services (BOCES) Compensatory Education Program, the Colorado Council on the Arts, the Colorado Rural Technology Program, Community Access TV of Boulder, Denver Community TV, Olshansky Consulting, Radio Reading Service of the Rockies, the University of Colorado at Boulder, Very Special Arts Colorado, and Young Audiences.