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Sarah Syverson chosen as Mancos Citizen of the Year

Local artist selected for honor

An artistic leader is Mancos’ Citizen of the Year.

Sarah Syverson was given the honor for her creative endeavors and productions, along with her years with the Montezuma School to Farm program.

“I feel really honored and humbled,” she said. “And honestly, my first reaction was that there are so many other potential people to be Citizen of the Year. ... Anything I’ve done takes a whole horde of people.”

The winner is selected by a committee led by the previous year’s Citizen of the Year, who was Pastor Craig Paschal.

“Sarah puts her heart and soul into every job and project she participates in,” Paschal said. “She makes Mancos a better, more united place to live. Her art projects draw people together in spirit and conversation.”

Syverson moved to Mancos about 11 years ago. She served for a number of years as executive director of the Montezuma School to Farm Project, a nonprofit offering hands-on gardening classes to schools, then continued to help guide the organization as a volunteer on its advisory board. She later became co-director of the Mancos Creative District, which led to collaborative storytelling displays and productions like the “We All Belong” project.

She stepped down in 2018 but has since been instrumental in artistic productions including the popular Raven Narratives storytelling series and the Purple Fox Conundrum, an outdoor theatrical and art installation.

Syverson said she has seen Mancos change as farmers and artists in their 20s and 30s moved to the area, presenting opportunities for cross-generational mingling and mentorship.

“Paired with the older generation of farmers and ranchers and artists that have been mentoring and connecting and welcoming those younger artists and farmers and ranchers in the community,” she said. “That’s been a powerful change I think in a really good way.”

Sarah Syverson has taken part in a variety of shows and artistic endeavors in the area. This fall, she starred in Merely Players’ production of “Every Brilliant Thing,” which aimed to promote discussion on suicide through humor.

Projects like the reinvigoration of the Mancos Common Press and the Mancos Opera House also have been strong community builders, she said.

She’s also seen the creative district grow and find a stronghold in Mancos.

The recent production of the Purple Fox Conundrum – she was one of four co-producers – saw a combination of agriculture and arts, which Syverson said have a strong relationship.

“I think the natural ebb and flow of agriculture can allow for that creative space to happen,” Syverson said.

Looking forward, she plans to work on a land-based theater immersion, one-woman show and the Raven Narratives. But she hopes to take the coming year a “gestation” period to allow ideas to “percolate.”

The awards ceremony is March 12 from 6-7:30 p.m. at the Mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce and Visitor Center, 101 E. Bauer Ave.

Syverson said the event is a chance to thank her mentors and fellow creatives for their contributions.

“It doesn’t happen in a silo, but it happens in a community of people that are willing to help each other,” she said. “And that’s the biggest gift.”