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The Cherry Creek Arts Festival is an annual festival held in Denver, Colorado, during the first weekend of July, usually Fourth of July weekend. The first annual Cherry Creek Arts Festival began in 1991.
The first president and executive director of the Arts Festival was Bill Charney who originally presented the Arts Festival concept to the Cherry Creek Chamber of Commerce (then the Cherry Creek Commerce Association) Board of Directors. At that meeting, the leadership of the Cherry Creek business community committed $15,000 in seed money, and a group of volunteers to assist Charney as an "Organizing Committee". Currently, Tara Brickell serves as the festival's executive director.
The Cherry Creek Arts Festival is a year-round 501(c)(3) non-profit arts services organization that presents an award-winning annual civic event. For three days during early July, the nation's #1 outdoor Arts Festival (as ranked by four independent industry publications)[which?] is presented in Denver's Cherry Creek North neighborhood. Visitors enjoy free access to a diverse array of art forms in a unique setting. With an attendance of 350,000+, the Arts Festival features over 232 of the nation's visual artists; seven performance stages presenting a broad range of entertainment; a volunteer program with over 1,000+ volunteers working in 23 different committees; and a sponsorship program with a 91% retention rate.
The [Cherry Creek Arts Festival] continues to be a vital part of Denver's annual cultural and economic landscape, contributing approximately $20,000 annually to local non-profits and $250,000 in tax revenues, CCAF's overall economic impact is $11-13 million each year. The Arts Festival is hosted by the Cherry Creek North Business Improvement District and receives no commission for the sale of artwork. CCAF is entirely dependent upon donations, sponsorships and grants, in addition to support from the City and County of Denver and the SCFD. On an individual level, the public can support the Arts Festival by purchasing official Cherry Creek Arts Festival posters and merchandise for sale throughout the year, as well as refreshments for sale on-site. Individuals and businesses are also invited to participate in the Arts Festival's "Festival Club" and Donor programs.
Four full-time employees fulfill the agency's educational mission during the year through art education and outreach programs that touch 20,000 Coloradans annually. Collectively known as Arts in Action, this includes the Mobile Art Collection, the Alliance Project and the Artist in Residence program. It also sponsors lesson plans for teachers that fulfill Colorado Arts Education and National Arts Standards.[clarification needed]
Since its inception, the Cherry Creek Arts Festival has contributed a positive economic impact of over $100 million to the local Denver economy. Contributing to this figure is money from sales tax on exhibited art, festival-related merchandise, food and beverages, as well as spending at area stores, restaurants, hotels, gas stations, etc. Since 1991, CCAF has won over 100 International Festivals and Events Association (IFEA) awards for highest overall quality in event programming, content, promotional programs and marketing materials. The Gold Grand Pinnacle, the highest honor in the special events industry, has been awarded to CCAF four times: 1998, 2000, 2003 and 2005. In 2007, IFEA presented the Cherry Creek Arts Festival with 15 awards including the Silver Grand Pinnacle Award, 6 Gold Pinnacle Awards, 5 Silver Pinnacle Awards and 3 Bronze Pinnacle Awards. This year, the Arts Festival competed with over 1,506 entries worldwide.