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donnie l. betts receives lifetime achievement award from CBCA

betts won the John Madden, Jr. Leadership Award at the recent CBCA Business for the Arts Awards


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For ten years now, the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts (CBCA) has honored individuals with a lifetime of extraordinary leadership and a legacy of support for the arts with its John Madden, Jr. Leadership Award, named after its founding chairman. This year, on March 10 at CBCA’s Business for the Arts Awards donnie l. betts (intentionally lowercase) was honored with this award for his work as a producer, filmmaker, playwright, actor and activist.

betts career in the arts really kicked off in 1998 when Denver Radio station KUVO approached him to revive a radio series called Destination Freedom, which told the stories of African American Heros. In 1999, he played an integral role in reviving the show with the addition of “Black Radio Days” to the title. The show was performed across the state in front of a studio audience, telling the stories of people seeking freedom. 

Now, over 20 years later, Destination Freedom: Black Radio Days is still producing radio shows, telling social justice stories of the current issues facing marginalized communities. 

“Art is a powerful tool for change,” betts says, and this show is just one example of betts’ career leveraging arts (particularly storytelling and shared experience) to catalyze social justice initiatives and inspire positive action and change. Aside from Destination Freedom, betts’ credits include being an original member of the DCPA Theatre Company, City Stage Ensemble and Denver Black Arts Company; attending the Yale School of Drama; having countless appearances both on Broadway and in local theatres; and much more. 

betts’ legacy will live on through his work, but also through the next-generation of artists that he has inspired. “One of my strengths is helping young artists, giving them an opportunity either through an internship, encouragement, placing them in a role,” he says. 

Learn more about donnie l. betts and his award-winning work below:

To learn more about the CBCA Business for the Arts Awards and to meet the other 2020 honorees, click here

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Ali Longwell

Ali Longwell is the digital editor at ColoradoBiz. She has also written for SDxCentral, a B2B online technology publication, as well as Denver-area lifestyle magazines 5280, Denver Life Magazine, Avid Lifestyle and more. She can be reached at alongwell@cobizmag.com

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