Post Premium: Our best stories for the week of June 22-28

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The shutdown brought by the fight against coronavirus didn’t stop artists from creating. One day, I hope soon, we can go experience the art inspired by the turmoil of the past three months.

But in the meantime, the arts community, from individuals to the largest organizations, is struggling, unable to fill seats in theaters or sell its work.

Our big story for the week explores the challenges facing the arts, what’s at risk and what artists are doing to survive.

To pull it off, we turned to three writers well-versed in the arts: Denver Post reporter John Wenzel, former entertainment editor and frequent contributor Ray Rinaldi and Lisa Kennedy, our former theater critic and also a regular contributor.

This is a long, grab a second cup of coffee and settle in for a bit, story. We think it was worth the time and space.

The arts, as Chris Coleman, executive director of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts’ Theatre Company, put it, “enrich our hearts and souls.”

I agree.

— Lee Ann Colacioppo, editor

Denver’s thriving arts scene was headed for its best year yet, and then the pandemic hit

Chris Coleman is Artistic Director of ...
RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post

Chris Coleman, artistic director of the Theatre Company at Denver Center for the Performing Arts, is in the theater costume shop, where work has stopped because of the pandemic.

Five of our best stories from the past week

Elijah McClain is becoming a household name; his mother is hurt that it’s taken so long

Sheneen McClain, the mother of Elijah ...
Kathryn Scott, Special to The Denver Post

Sheneen McClain, mother of Elijah McClain, leaves the balcony of the House of Representatives after the police reform bill, Senate Bill 20-217, passed with bipartisan support at the Capitol this month.

“Say his name: Elijah McClain!” is a common refrain at protests, and his name and story are all over social media. McClain’s mother, Sheneen, has done more media interviews in the past few weeks than she can count. Politicians and celebrities are tweeting about Elijah, and photos and video of him have racked up millions of views.

For a long time, there weren’t too many other people sharing in Sheneen’s grief. Elijah has been dead for almost a year, but he only recently became a household name, Alex Burness reports.

Read more recent stories about Elijah McClain:

  • Thousands expected at Aurora police headquarters Saturday to protest Elijah’s McClain’s death
  • Polis appoints attorney general to investigate McClain’s death
  • McClain timeline: What happened that night and what has happened since

Denver faith, nonprofit leaders form task force to consider new ways to police the city

Police officers stand behind the fence ...
Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post

Police officers stand behind a fence at the Van Cise-Simonet Detention Center in downtown Denver and watch protesters rally for the late William DeBose this month.

Denver faith leaders and advocates plan to start a task force that will examine policing practices in Denver and consider how to dismantle the system and rebuild it from the ground up. The task force, which has the support of Denver police, will be finalized after a series of public meetings, the first on Tuesday. Read more from Shelly Bradbury

Black philanthropy groups find new mission during coronavirus, Black Lives Matter protests

From left to right Nneka McPhee, ...
Helen H. Richardson, The Denver Post

From left, Nneka McPhee, Dafina Tucker and Tanaka Shipp are members of the Sisterhood of Philanthropists Impacting Needs.

How do Denver’s Black community leaders stay grounded as they push up against formidable forces of white supremacy and a global pandemic? Tanaka Shipp focuses on providing for her community and connecting with her sisters in Denver’s all-Black women’s giving circle.

Shipp and Nneka McPhee are the chairwomen of the Sisterhood of Philanthropists Impacting Needs, a group whose members pool individual funds to donate to community organizations. And during the pandemic, giving circles such as this have adapted to provide resources quickly for residents hit hard by coronavirus. Read more from Catherine Henderson over at The Know

The human cost of Colorado’s budget crisis

Paul Tafoya and his sister Erica ...
Rachel Ellis, The Denver Post

Paul Tafoya and sister Erica make smoothies together at their home in Lakewood last week.

Republicans and Democrats were on board, as were all members of the state Joint Budget Committee. They would have to set aside a lot of money, but after careful planning over several years, lawmakers vowed Colorado finally would pass legislation to start clearing the state’s backlog of approximately 3,000 adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities waiting in line — in some cases, for more than a decade — to receive waivers for housing and 24/7 care provided through a Medicaid program.

Then the coronavirus hit. Clearing the backlog was suddenly a nonstarter.

There are real people, and in many cases profound suffering, attached to Colorado’s budget crisis. School districts are suddenly poorer, as are municipal governments, safety-net providers and others. Between the billions in cuts and the slew of planned new initiatives that were scuttled, there are now thousands of people across the state who will miss a service they rely on or lose a job or simply have to work harder to get by. Read more from Alex Burness

JeffCo primary “a battle for the heart and soul” of Colorado’s Republican Party

Colorado State Capitol building in Denver, ...
Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

The state Capitol.

The upcoming Republican primary for a state House seat in southern Jefferson County represents a growing divide among lawmakers about what the party should stand for and the type of GOP candidates Colorado voters will support, Saja Hindi reports.

“This race, as well as the other races that you’re seeing in Weld County, for instance, represent a battle for the heart and soul for the Republican efforts in Colorado,” said Rep. Dave Williams, a Colorado Springs conservative.

RELATED: A last-minute voter’s guide to the Colorado 2020 primary election

A few more important stories

+ Governor signs lean state budget

+ Nuggets veteran Will Barton: Protests and T-shirts aren’t enough. It’s time for a revolution.

+ Colorado’s COVID-19 patients fared better in May than at pandemic’s start, hospital data show

+ Colorado: Home of scenic mountains, endless craft beer and … alligator wrestling? — The Know

+ With thefts up 18% in Denver this year, cyclists work together to try to find their stolen bicycles

+ 2020 is the summer of the drive-in, from historic locations to pop-up film festivals — The Know

+ Comcast-Altitude blackout: Questions asked and answered for Nuggets and Avalanche fans

+ Polis names new group to oversee Colorado oil and gas rules

+ With the full house formation and a family atmosphere fueling his success, Andy Lowry built a prep football dynasty at Columbine

Photo of the week

See more great photos like this on The Denver Post’s Instagram account.

A statue honoring Christopher Columbus was ...
Hyoung Chang, The Denver Post

Mud and grass are stuck to metal at the top of a statue honoring Christopher Columbus that was torn down at Civic Center in Denver on Friday.

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