A common stop for performers, socialites and businessmen traveling by train from the East Coast to San Francisco, Cheyenne was once widely recognized as a regional cultural center. Wealthy railroad travelers exposed the town not only to the latest fads and fashions, but also to a variety of world-class entertainment. In those days, performers such as Lily Langtry and Emma Nevada regularly graced the stage of the local opera house, which was built in 1882.
Scott Walker, vice president of marketing and operations at the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, moved to Cheyenne about 15 years ago. He was familiar with the city’s history and was surprised to find that the cultural climate had changed drastically over the course of the 20th century. With the exception of Frontier Days, national performers rarely included Cheyenne in their tours, and there were only a few local performing groups. When he asked people about the change, the response was, “We don’t need that kind of thing here – if we want culture, we can always drive to Denver.”
Having been involved in the arts in other communities, Walker knew the important relationship between a city’s cultural opportunities and its economic development. He knew it was vital to reverse the trend and bring people to Cheyenne, rather than having residents leave town to be entertained. Always an active participant in the local community, the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle has lately been putting even more effort into improving the Cheyenne lifestyle and economy through the performing arts. For example, the extremely popular outdoor weekly concert series, Fridays on the Plaza, is sponsored by the WTE. The series has brought hundreds, sometimes thousands, of music lovers from throughout the region to Downtown Cheyenne for the past six summers.
Walker met Dr. Charles Bohlen while serving on a number of boards with the LCCC president. Bohlen mentioned that the college also had a vision for enhancing the culture of our city, and Walker suggested that the Tribune-Eagle work together with LCCC to bring diverse national talent to Cheyenne. These conversations led to the WTE partnering with the LCCC Foundation and the LCCC Division of Arts and Humanities to sponsor annual performances at the Cheyenne Civic Center.
The entertainment brought to our community through the generous sponsorship of the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle could not be more dynamic or diverse. The series began with a concert by folk singer and guitarist Gordon Bok in 2004. The following year, Robert Faust delighted families with his Faustwork Mask Theatre, an engaging mix of monologue, physical comedy and theatre exploring the artistic, cultural and psychological uses of masks throughout history.
In 2006, Gran Folklorico de Mexico, a worldwide traveling company of 35 singers, dancers and musicians gave a spectacular performance featuring authentic costumes and mariachi, marimba and jarocho music. In the 2007 multimedia performance, Freedom Sings, hit songwriters and Grammy Award winners addressed the issue of censorship while sharing the power, passion and poetry of music. And last year, audiences were treated to a performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest by the TONY award-winning touring theatre, The Acting Company.
Walker’s contributions to the relationship between LCCC and the Wyoming Tribune-Eagle have been of immeasurable value, as has his service on the Foundation board for the past two years. Likewise, he expresses appreciation for the college. “LCCC and the Foundation are a growing part of the community and becoming more important all the time. They keep a good pulse on the needs of our community and are extremely flexible and effective in meeting those needs. That makes us want to work with them on whatever we can.”