The Consortium promotes the growth of cultural arts in education in the Pikes Peak Area Schools (15 districts). The Consortium brings awareness of cultural arts programs in the schools to business executives, school administrators, teachers and parents. The ABE Consortium presents special recognition awards given at an annual luncheon for innovative arts education programs, excellence in teaching and business support of arts education. The Arts Council also presents artists awards and the Chamber of Commerce gives business and corporate awards for support of the arts. This luncheon brings artists, educators and business leaders together to raise awareness and encourage expansion of Arts Education. Recognizing business involvement in Arts Education at the annual ABE luncheon has resulted in increased interest and participation in the schools.
The formation of the Arts Business Education Consortium of Colorado Springs began in 1979, with a conversation between some arts leaders in a parking lot following an arts event. Their concern was the lack of arts education in area schools. A meeting followed with arts leaders, parents and school officials voicing their concerns about arts education. Two events were planned to bring educators, artists and business people together for the purpose of raising awareness of and encouraging the expansion of arts in the schools and to emphasize what is being done to encourage creativity in the arts, especially for children. The first event was a symposium entitled "Cultural Arts Awakening Creativity" held November 1979, to recognize the PTA Reflections award winners (this national program was founded in Colorado Springs) and to conduct presentations, dialogue and performances for the participants. The second event was a luncheon held March 1980, entitled "Arts Business Education is Everyone's Business". The luncheon focused on school administrators and principals, key businessmen and parents. A local corporate President and CEO was the Master of Ceremonies. The Commissioner of Education spoke from a State Department position concerning Arts Education in Colorado and the keynoter was a national corporate leader. Following the two events, the Arts Business Education Consortium was formed, made up of arts organization directors, school district administrators, PTA representatives, corporate representatives and a representative from the Chamber of Commerce. From this beginning grew a Partnership which continues today. The ABE Consortium is an all-volunteer group with no paid staff. The Consortium's umbrella organization is The Pikes Peak Arts Council. The purpose of ABE is Arts Advocacy, and the theme "Arts Education is Everyone's Business" has remained the same for 31 years.