2018 Honorees: Community Service in the Arts Award
Denver natives, Arlene and Barry Hirschfeld, have a long and unwavering history of commitment to support arts and culture in Colorado alongside other causes. What has set them apart and made them role models in our community is their unabating passion and kindness that are the driving forces behind their philanthropy. The Hirschfelds are truly a dynamic duo of Denver.
Since graduating from the University of Denver, Arlene has worked tirelessly to make a positive impact on the lives of others through public high school teaching, volunteering, and serving various causes. She is a member of the boards of the Denver Art Museum, MDC Richmond American Homes Foundation, Children’s Diabetes Foundation of Denver, The Women’s Foundation of Colorado as honorary trustee, and the Colorado Governor’s Residence Preservation Fund among many others. Arlene also served as the first Jewish president of the Junior League of Denver, the fourth woman board chair of the Allied Jewish Federation of Colorado (Jewish Colorado) since its founding in 1946, and the first woman board chair of Rose Community Foundation. Arlene’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness are present in all her work. She supports women in leadership roles as a member of the Dean’s Council at The Harvard University Divinity School. Her passion and skill have also made Arlene a noteworthy fundraiser. As campaign co-chair she succeeded in helping raise $47 million for the Denver Art Museum’s Hamilton Building in 2002-2006 and is currently on the committee for Vision 2021 to complete the museum’s campus – a $150 million campaign. Arlene shared, “No matter who you are, or what your financial situation is, there is always a meaningful way to contribute – not only with money, but equally so with your time, ideas and talent.”
Barry’s story is woven into the fabric of Denver’s history. His business career and philanthropic support in the city run deep. “I was exposed at an early age by my grandfather to help others. He said you need to do something more than just business, something for a greater good,” Barry shared. In 1988, he helped establish the Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, a unique sales and use tax statute that currently distributes more than $50 million a year to some 300 arts and cultural organizations and, since its inception, has dispersed just over $1 billion. His commitment was once again demonstrated during the renewal of the SCFD tax in 2016. His numerous business activities and contributions to the state’s tourism industry through Visit Denver led to his induction into the Colorado Business Hall of Fame and the Colorado Tourism Hall of Fame. Barry has been a leader in many initiatives including the Toyota Elephant Passage at the Denver Zoo, the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, the Hamilton Building, the Denver Public Library, as well as the expansion of the Colorado Convention Center. He serves or has served on the boards of Xcel Energy, Colorado Concern, Clyfford Still Museum, Denver Art Museum (where he served as board chair and founded the Latino Advisory Committee), Denver Area Council of the Boy Scouts, Cherry Creek Arts Festival, National Jewish Health, and the Boettcher Foundation among others.
Arlene and Barry’s passion, caring, and enthusiasm for the arts in Denver have been shown time and time again. Their leadership and compassion have inspired many others. As a team, their continued support over the last five decades has made and continues to make a lasting and positive impact on the Denver community.