Anybody who has lived in Denver for the past 40 years or so is probably familiar with the SCFD, which makes many of our favorite cultural organizations possible.
SCFD is an acronym for Scientific & Cultural Facilities District. It is a sales tax that collects one penny on every $10 to support cultural organizations in the seven-county metro area — Boulder, Broomfield, Denver, Adams, Arapahoe, Jefferson and Douglas. The SCFD supports more than 100 organizations in Denver County alone, and about 300 throughout the seven counties. According to its website, the “SCFD distributes more than $60 million each year” to these 300-ish organizations.
But what that means to us, is thanks to this funding, there are a lot of cool things to do and experience in our own backyard!
Something that’s important to the SCFD is ensuring that everyone has access to these fun places and experiences. One way it makes that happen is by offering SCFD Free Days. It’s important to note that some organizations are always free to visit — the SCFD’s website points to the Broomfield Veterans Museum and Foothills Art Center in Golden — but others charge a fee for entry. But not on SCFD Free Days!
SCFD Free Days, like the name implies, is a specific day that people can visit a museum or experience the arts for free. Just about anything you can imagine — from the Colorado Railroad Museum to the Denver Center of Performing Arts — offers SCFD Free Days.
SCFD Free Days take place throughout the year, and usually happen on different days at the various organizations. For example, the Denver Botanic Gardens has an upcoming SCFD Free Day at both its York Street and Chatfield Farms locations on Thursday, Feb. 17, and the Denver Museum of Nature & Science is offering an SCFD Free Day on Sunday, Feb. 27. It’s worth it to browse the calendar, because most places offer a number of SCFD Free Days throughout the year.
Something to pay attention to is how the different organizations operate their SCFD Free Days. Some may require an advance ticket, while others may do it as a first come, first served basis. The Denver Zoo, for example, does a lottery system for its SCFD Free Days.
I love the SCFD Free Days because they truly accomplish what they’re meant to - I believe everyone should get to see a theater production, visit a museum or attend a concert, no matter if they wouldn’t normally have the financial means to do so. Culture and arts enrich us as a society.
But another reason that makes the SCFD Free Days so great is that they offer an opportunity to experience something new. Maybe there’s something you think is not really your “thing,” but there’s no harm in checking it out free-of-cost during an SCFD Free Day. And who knows, after that experience, it just might become your new “thing.”
To learn more about the SCFD, visit scfd.org. To browse its calendar of SCFD Free Days, hover over the ‘Find Culture’ tab to get the drop down menu, and select ‘Free Days.’
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