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At Home With...
At Home with
Terry Adams President and CEO of the Cherry Creek Arts Festival
BY HILARY MASELL OSWALD
TERRY ADAMS HAS A REQUEST: he’d like a retractable roof over all of Denver’s Cherry Creek North shopping district. “I suppose that’s not possible,” he laughs. “But believe me: I’ve wished for it.” You can’t blame him. As the leader of the non-profit that produces the hugely popular Cherry Creek Arts Festival, Adams spends 362 days of the year preparing for the three-day extravaganza, which takes place July 5, 6 and 7 this year. And each year, as the festival days approach, “I watch the weather like crazy,” he says. “It’s wild to look toward something all year and know that success depends, at least partially, on something you can’t control.” It’s a good thing Adams is unflappable, the kind of guy who knows how to keep the big picture in mind while he tends to the
POVY KENDALL ATCHISON
details. Now in his 12th year as the festival’s leader, he has a job description that varies depending on the day of the week. Sometimes he’s securing the corporate sponsorships that bolster the festival’s offerings; other times, he’s managing the extensive logistics that come with working with the city and hundreds of shop owners in Cherry Creek North. And on the day after the festival ends, he’s up at sunrise with his team, combing the streets of the chic shopping district with trash bags to make sure there’s no trace of the festival anywhere. “It a job for a generalist leader,” Adams says. “I know a little bit about a lot of things.” That’s an understatement. Adams’ resumé suggests that he may have been training for this gig his whole professional life. He earned a degree in accounting from the University of Arizona, and his
first job was as a cast director for Up with People, the non-profit educational organization that takes college students and young adults all over the world to perform musical productions and serve the communities they visit. Adams performed with the group during an extended break from college and accepted a job after graduation. He met his wife there and together, they spent six years on the road; Adams worked in the organization’s headquarters for an additional nine. “It gave me such a solid background,” he says. “You’re working with different cultures, different personalities. You’re helping people understand a shared vision. You’re adjusting to surprises. Sometimes you’re performing in high-school gyms, sometimes in high-end theaters. You learn to problem-solve. I loved it. But once we had kids, kissing babies in the
WE WERE JUST WONDERING... What would you do if you didn’t have this job? I have a passion for university athletics—promoting their advancement, fundraising, developing sponsorships. It’s a calling I never pursued, but maybe that’ll be my final act. I’m a huge sports fan. Do you have any artistic ability? I can’t say I do. I’m a pianist and vocalist. But when it comes to visual art, Canvas and Cocktails is about all I can pull off. What’s the last great book you read? I just finished reading All In by Chester Elton—a great book that reminded me how important an organization’s culture is to its success. When you find time to unwind in Denver, where do you go? When I have the time, my greatest getaway is the golf course. There are so many great ones to choose from in this region.