The Colorado Springs arts community has lost a great lady.
Kathleen Fox Collins, who spent 50 years supporting and promoting symphony, opera, theater and cowboy music, died Monday. she was 80 years old.
She is survived by her son Joel Collins and two grandchildren. Donations can be made to the Kathleen Fox Collins Foundation of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Foundation, the Bee Bladenberg Foundation, or Downtown Ventures.
“She was a doer. “She had that vibrancy, determination, warmth, love for this community, and a true belief that the arts are a great way to enrich a community.”
Born in Mexico City in 1942 to a former US diplomat, Collins spent the first 15 years of his life in Fiji, Egypt and India. She arrived in the United States in her 1957 and attended boarding school and then the University of Colorado.
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She eventually moved to New York City, where she acted and worked with the Theater for the Forgotten, a theater company that helped prisoners write and stage plays. In 1975, she returned to Colorado, where she landed in Springs, Colorado where she met Bee Vladenberg, general of the Springs Symphony Orchestra (now the Colorado Her Springs Philharmonic), and he gave her her job. During her 25 years with orchestras in various positions, she also fell in love with symphony conductor Charles Her Ansbacher.
“Charles and Bee were the name and face of the symphony, but Kathleen was in the belly of the beast,” said Nathan Newbrough, president and CEO of the Philharmonic Orchestra. “She did it all. She was as synonymous with the symphony as the conductor and Bea of her time.”
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During the Symphony Era, Collins contributed to the development of Pops on Ice and the Summer Symphony at Memorial Park, and the planning and construction of the Pikes Peak Center.
“She came up with some great creative ways to bring art to where people are: homes and neighborhoods,” Edmondson said. No idea was too difficult, and many of these ideas have survived the years and have delighted thousands of people.”
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Following his symphony work, Collins spent 15 years at Western Jubilee Recording Co., a record label focused on cowboy music and poetry. She was the founding director of the Bee Vradenburg Foundation and Rocky’s Opera Theatre. She is a founding partner of MeadowGrass Music Festival. She is also the co-founder of Ride for the Brand Ranch Rodeo. She has also served on numerous boards and committees over the years, including Theatreworks, KCME, and Friends of the Uncle Wilbur Fountain.
“Kathleen was a dynamo and really thriving behind the scenes,” said Edmondson. “And maybe many art patrons don’t know who she is, but she’s always behind the scenes with creative ideas, increasing support for art, championing art, and making things possible. If you didn’t see her on stage, she was still involved in the incredible things happening in this community.”
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