First Folio, the book that gave us Shakespeare, and the importance of the arts at CU Boulder

Thank you for joining us for this very exciting evening. It is our great privilege to host the First Folio. We are honored to have with us the Director of the Folger Shakespeare Library, Dr. Michael Witmore. Thank you for making the First Folio available for so many to see in the United States, and here in Colorado. We are so pleased that Erin Kuhn, the British Consul in Denver, is here. I am also pleased to welcome University of Colorado Regent Linda Shoemaker.

The entire Boulder community is excited about First Folio. I would like to say thank you to our many community partners who have teamed up with the university to support this unique exhibit.

The importance of the arts at CU Boulder

It is fitting that CU Boulder was selected to host this one-of-a-kind exhibit. The arts are integral to our mission and well supported by our students, faculty, staff, programs and curriculum, as well as our donors and arts patrons.

More than 380,000 citizens come to campus annually for arts and culture, and, of course, our students also greatly benefit. I’m proud that CU-Boulder is a cultural hub—a repository for cultural artifacts and a venue for innumerable performances and lectures. We are home to three museums, six galleries, world-class opera and the Grammy-winning Takács Quartet, just to name a couple of examples.

The Colorado Shakespeare Festival, just wrapped up a nine-week run last night with 50 performances of five plays in two campus theaters. Next season it is celebrating its 60th year on campus. It is the second oldest Shakespeare Festival in the United States, bringing 30,000 community members to campus each summer. We are indebted to our donors and patrons for supporting this festival year after year.

So it seems natural that the First Folio would stop here at CU on its 50-state U.S. tour. In fact, this is the only stop in Colorado. I consider this an international recognition of the significance of the arts on our campus.

Cross-disciplinary collaboration

Given our deep engagement with the arts, it is no surprise that faculty and staff from all corners of the campus had the foresight to collaborate, and work with the Folger Shakespeare Library, to bring the First Folio here.  This cross-disciplinary effort included:

  • The Center for British and Irish Studies
  • The College of Music
  • The Colorado Shakespeare Festival
  • The CU Art Museum
  • University Libraries
  • And the departments of English, history, and theatre & dance.

I would like to thank them for their efforts in making this day possible. They are the epitome of interdisciplinary collaboration that defines this university.

We have been celebrating First Folio, and commemorating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death, with 40 exciting and unusual programs across campus that began in April and will continue into the fall. For example:

  • Fiske Planetarium is hosting “Shakespeare and the Stars” on Aug. 26th. This event combines passages from Shakespeare’s texts referring to the heavens – “the great globe itself” – with scientific explanations of celestial phenomena.
  • University Libraries has partnered with the Denver Botanic Gardens for an exhibit displaying botanical art that reflects plants found in Shakespeare’s writings. It’s on display through Oct. 14 on the third floor of Norlin Library.

Performing and visual arts, literature and poetry, are powerful teachers of different perspectives, historical interpretations and cultures. Thank you for helping us celebrate the arts at CU and especially First Folio.

Introduction of British Consul Erin Kuhn

Now it is my pleasure to introduce our special guest, British Consul Erin Kuhn. Ms. Kuhn took her post in the UK Government Office in Denver in 2015. The Consul promotes social, economic and political ties between the UK and Colorado. Prior to working as Consul, she was Chief of Staff for Global Programs and University Life at New York University, where she helped expand NYU’s global footprint to 14 campuses worldwide.

Ms. Kuhn has an impressive background in global communications and advocacy. She led efforts to eradicate polio and promote the delivery of life-saving vaccines while working at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. She acted as a liaison to Congress as the lead officer for Middle East affairs at the United Nations. It is our great pleasure to have her on campus today, so please help me welcome British Consul, Erin Kuhn.