By Alan Gionet

DENVER (CBS4)– Along Santa Fe Drive a First Friday Artwalk was underway Friday night and it felt good to a lot of people.

“Most of the artists that participated in this exhibit aren’t really so much into trying to sell as they were into the whole concept of this show,” said artist Emanuel Martinez.

READ MORE: No Charges For Colorado Man Who Sent Anonymous Letters, Pictures To School Board Members

(credit: CBS)

He was inside the Museo De Las Americas where art and culture dated back to Pre-Columbian times.

“Normally there’s an older crowd of people like myself that come here,” but the crowd was younger.

The older crowds have been slower to return in the pandemic era. They are often the buyers of art.

“We have lost a decade of growth in one year’s time,” said Christin Crampton Day, executive director of The Colorado Business Committee for the Arts.

The arts organization has done a look at the development of the arts and economic activity for decades. In the recession of the late 2000s, things fell off as well.

(credit: CBS)

“And it took us over 10 years to rebound then. So history tells us we’re not going to rebound overnight.”

The CBCA found that economic activity from the arts was worth $2.3 billion to metro Denver in 2019 and only $1.5 billion in 2020. Things have certainly rebounded in 2021, but there’s no solid data yet.

(credit: CBCA)

READ MORE: Frisco, Like Much Of Colorado, Waiting For A Good Dumping Of Snow

Particularly slow might be seated performances, the DCPA, the Colorado Ballet and the Symphony. Putting on big shows at a high cost is dependent on a lot of outside factors.

“For organizations whose audiences may skew older, for example, they might not feel comfortable coming back into the theater yet.”

Many performers have felt it. Julio Garcia directs a group of dancers taking part in Dia De Los Muertos celebrations.

“COVID set back a lot of dancing groups or company dancing groups and they’re working their way back to grow again,” he said through a translator.

The CBCA report also described job losses due to the decline in the arts at 9,688 jobs. Not all are back. The good news was giving was up as people tried to support to arts to keep them going, rising from an estimated $213 million in 2019 to $225 million in 2020.

“I think that we’re all learning to live with COVID differently. And that’s including how we consume our arts and culture,” said Crampton Day.

The arts in the Denver metro area have brought people in the past in from around the world, particularly for big museum exhibits.

(credit: CBS)

“Those bring people in not just from outside Denver metro, from other parts of the state, but from other countries and all over the globe,” she added.

But they’re not back on yet.

There is a strong arts community as was clear as people went in and out of galleries and the museum Friday night and it felt, almost normal.

MORE NEWS: Colorado's Hospitality & Tourism Sector Expected To Rebound Slower Than Others

“But this is a really good show,” said Martinez. “It’s very good to see people coming out now and appreciating all the work that we put into this show.”

Alan Gionet