Thu August 23, 2012
Business Report

Performing Arts Center In the Works for Estes Park

The arts community in Estes Park is trying to get a performing arts center built with a price tag as big as $20 million.

KUNC’s Erin O’Toole spoke with Northern Colorado Business Report Publisher Jeff Nuttall about the big plans.

O’Toole: So, Jeff, who’s behind this group and what’s their goal?

Nuttall: The group is called Estes Park Performance Incorporated, or EPIC, and they’re a group of arts aficionados from Estes. Some of these folks are part of another group formed in 2002 called the Supporters of the Performing Arts. They’re working to raise money to build a new performing arts center in downtown Estes, which they’ll call the Rocky Mountain Performing Arts Center.

O’Toole: And am I reading correctly, that this performing arts center could cost $20 million?

Nuttall: That’s the high end of the cost estimates. The board of trustees of EPIC has said that the cost will ultimately fall between $15 and $20 million. The plan is for a theater that can seat more than 760 people, and have space for a restaurant and a winter garden. Precise square footage isn’t known yet, but it’s still early in the fundraising efforts.

O’Toole: How much progress has EPIC made in getting the money together?

Nuttall: Since fundraising began in earnest in March, they’ve raised about $2 million. The land for the theater was donated, with a couple of contingencies. A local family donated land where the Park Theater Mall once stood. You may remember, the mall burned down in 2009. The Fall River runs through the property, and the donation depends on upon EPIC reaching certain milestones between now and March 2014.

O’Toole: And how do artists in the community feel about the project? I’d imagine they’re pretty pleased…

Nuttall: Yes, the arts community is excited about the potential for a center like this. Right now, shows can be seen at sites such as the high school auditorium or the YMCA, but the proposed facility would be a first for Estes Park’s arts community.

They also anticipate that the center would be good for the downtown area, creating a vibe similar to the atmosphere created by the recently expanded Rialto Theater in downtown Loveland.

O’Toole: Have there been other attempts in the past to create a place for Estes Park artists?

Nuttall: Absolutely. The arts community in Estes began making attempts to build a home in 1990. The first effort included renovating part of the Stanley Hotel. At the time, $500,000 was raised but the project was abandoned when the fundraising goal could not be reached. In 2002, another effort by some of the same people raised about $250,000 in cash and $675,000 in pledges, but it, too, ultimately stalled.

O’Toole: So – you have to ask, what makes EPIC think this time will be different?

Nuttall: EPIC has created what it hopes is a self-sustaining business model that includes establishing an endowment. Of course, in the end, whether it can raise the money it needs is what’s most important.

O’Toole: It does come down to that, for sure. Thanks, Jeff.

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