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BCLogo_BereaBlue_005A8BIn July, Berea College acquired the intellectual property of the Arts Incubator of the Rockies, AIR. The programs, now known as the AIR Institute of Berea College has relocated from Colorado and become part of the Berea College Crafts Program.

Berea College is in so many ways an institution unlike any other: a residential liberal arts school that does not charge tuition; a college that hires every student it admits; the first interracial and co-educational school in the South; and a school that firmly and intentionally imbeds itself in the region of Appalachia even while drawing students from all over the country and the world.

Berea College believes that the AIR programs provide a sustainable future for the American Craft movement, the work of creatives, and vibrant, creative communities nationwide.

Lyle Roelofs Berea College President

Lyle Roelofs

Berea College President


The Board of Directors of the Arts Incubator of the Rockies is delighted and inspired by the commitment of Berea College to the AIR vision and programs.

“Berea College will give artists and creatives across the country new opportunities that we could never had achieved on our own. We feel so fortunate to have found such a mission-aligned institution, with more than a century of experience in educating and serving artists, that can truly help achieve our vision of creating a greater value for art and culture, making more vibrant communities nationwide, ” said Kim Akeley-Charon, President of the AIR Board of Directors.

Berea College is known internationally as a center for and leader of the American Arts and Crafts movement and Appalachian Craft Revival. The College Crafts program at Berea College has been training, making, and selling hand-crafted furniture, brooms, textiles, and ceramics since 1893. The program was established as a way to preserve traditional Appalachian crafts and to provide parents a currency with which they could pay for their children’s education. Now, after more than 120 years of experience, every year, more than 100 Berea College students choose to work in the College Crafts studios, shops, and outreach programs as part of the Berea College Labor Program.

Berea College will be offering AIR programs throughout the United States, with an initial focus on Appalachia and the Intermountain West regions. The programs are a natural extension of the original Fireside Industries programs instituted by Berea’s third president, William Goodell Frost in the late 1800s.

Beth Flowers, the former Executive Director of the Arts Incubator of the Rockies, will serve as the Director of the AIR Institute of Berea College.

The AIR programs build on the Berea College tradition of serving artists, expanding financial opportunities for Appalachia, and promoting arts, crafts, and creative business practices. Students and others in our region will now be able to access innovative programs that will help them make a financially sustainable living as artists, creatives, and social entrepreneurs.tim with student

Tim Glotzbach, Director

Berea College Crafts


AIR History


Beet Street, the City of Fort Collins Cultural Services Department, and Colorado State University LEAP (Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Arts Advocacy and the Public) joined together to find solutions to the problems facing the arts community in our small city in Northern Colorado. We researched professional development programs and arts and business incubators across the country, and explored new distance learning and social networking technologies. We also reviewed the challenges facing the arts communities in other states in the Intermountain West region and discovered that we had common problems to solve.


After a year of collaborative research and planning, the incubator project was awarded a $100,000 National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant to design and build a regional arts incubator in the City-owned Carnegie Library Building (1904).

Beet Street officially created the Arts Incubator of the Rockies – or AIR – to serve a 10 state region of the Intermountain West that includes more than 280,000 professional artists and creatives.

We began planning with a regional gathering of State Arts Council leaders from across the Intermountain West. The goal of the summit was to engage regional partners at an early stage of the development of AIR and to learn how to make AIR programs valuable throughout the region. The agenda included presentations, art facility tours, and visioning exercises.

Representatives from the arts councils for the states of Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada, and South Dakota participated. Additionally, a representative from WESTAF attended. Representatives from North Dakota, New Mexico, and Montana also expressed interest in the project but were unable to attend.

All the states in attendance agreed that they were supportive partners of AIR and committed to contributing to the development of curriculum, providing assistance with fundraising, marketing, networking, and outreach for the program.


In January 2012, we began Curriculum and website development. Hundreds of people from nearly a dozen states participated in our planning process and curriculum design. Folks from seven states participated in pilots that helped refine the Shift Workshop and Evolve Program.

Meanwhile, the AIR website was being finalized, and launched in September. Members started to join and share their work and stories. People also began to share knowledge, events and opportunities throughout the region, creating a hub of support and a network of connections.


In March of 2013, we presented the first official AIR Shift Workshop in Fort Collins, CO. The workshop sold out, with attendees joining from as far as Michigan and Canada.

The second Evolve pilot ran from April to September with 15 participants from across Colorado.

The first semester of a modified Shift curriculum, Higher Education Internship Seminar ran at Colorado State University with twelve undergraduates.


2014 brought significant changes - AIR formally separated from Beet Street and was designated a new nonprofit corporation with 501C3 charitable organization federal tax designation.

AIR moved its offices to Loveland, Colorado with the intention to move into the ArtSpace Feed & Grain Building in 2015. In the interim, AIR is housed at Lola's Fresh Patina located at 1349 Cleveland Avenue.

Also in 2014, we designed a new delivery method for our curriculum and programs - the local affiliate, train-the-trainer model. In August, we piloted our first trainings and will offer affiliate programs in 2015.

An AIR Shift Workshop, hosted by COPPeR, was held in Colorado Springs in October and for the first time, $5,000 was available to help implement projects that came out of the workshop.


2015 brought expansion beyond the Intermountain West. Berea College in Berea, Kentucky became a Local AIRffiliate and six people were trained to facilitate the AIR:Shift Workshop. In September participants of the Brushy Fork Institute were able to attend an AIR:Shift Workshop. AIR also launched a new website and edited and re-designed the AIR:Shift Participant Guide for better usability and deeper content.

AIR has evolved since its humble beginnings in 2010. We’ve transformed from a small town’s big idea to an impactful nonprofit organization that has served hundreds of artists, creatives and communities in seven states.

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