Glenwood’s performing arts committee seeks new members |

Glenwood’s performing arts committee seeks new members

John Gardner
Post Independent Staff

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – The city is encouraging applicants to apply for a position on a new Performing Arts committee. The purpose of which will be determining the needs of a performing arts theater in Glenwood Springs.

The ad hoc committee will assess the feasibility of building and operating a performing arts and/or events center at the Glenwood Springs Community Center site based on existing conceptual plans. And, the group will evaluate existing facilities such as the Glenwood Springs High School to determine where needs can be met as defined in the existing feasibility study, which was completed by a prior ad hoc committee over a three year period.

Judy O’Donnell, former chair for the previous committee, said that the prior committee worked hard during the three year period establishing a critical need for a theater in Glenwood Springs, and that it’s time to move forward.

“We would like to move forward and would like to look at the possibilities at the recreation center,” O’Donnell told Council.

She said that there is a definite need for additional theater space in Glenwood, whether the theater be used strictly as a theater or as meeting or event space, too.

About three years ago, the committee proposed a plan to build a new performing arts center for around $40 million, according to past Post Independent reports. Then, in February 2009, the committee decided that the Glenwood Springs Elementary School was an ideal location for an arts center. However, the Roaring Fork School District wasn’t too keen on the idea of giving up the elementary school, so the idea stalled.

The committee has been on hiatus since May 2009 awaiting council direction on how to proceed from this point. Now, the city is looking to move forward on a promise of a theater in town and O’Donnell is hoping to be able to move forward, too.

“We look forward to working with you to locate the best location, design, financing, and management of the theater,” O’Donnell said.

The goal of the new ad hoc committee will be to define capital construction needs and appropriate funding sources, revenue sources to pay for operation of the facility, specify a preferred management and governance option, and to address compatibility issues between a performing arts venue and other functions occurring at the Glenwood Springs Community Center.

The group sill also be in charge of developing a plan which will detail the appropriate steps vital to completing the theater project.

While several councilors agreed that it is time for the city to address the needs of the arts community, Councilwoman Shelley Kaup said that the option for using existing spaces, such as the Glenwood Springs High School theater, should be explored thoroughly before building a new building.

According to City Manager Jeff Hecksel, the question raised at the work session in March with city council and previous arts committee members was are the available facilities being used to their maximum potential?

“The notion here is to match up what was in the work that was already done with what’s already available, and to identify where the gap is,” Hecksel said.

That will determine where the need is for a new facility, according to Hecksel.

“We promised the citizens they would have a theater of their own that was not constrained to be used by all the groups in town,” said councilor Stephen Bershenyi. “And that is what we should provide.”

Glenwood Mayor Bruce Christensen agreed with Bershenyi saying that the theater has been an ongoing conversation that needs to find resolution.

“(A theater) is as big a part of the soul of the community as anything else,” he said. “And it’s not just the adults, it our children, and we need to meet those needs.”

Councilor Matt Steckler agreed with Kaup saying that it would not be a wise choice to fund another expensive construction project, given the current economic climate, considering that exiting facilities could be a legitimate option.

“We have a lot of facilities here, can we use them more effectively?” Steckler posed as a question to the new committee.

Appointments to the committee will be made at Council’s April 15 meeting. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

Those interested in applying for the Performing Arts commission, applications can be downloaded online at, under the “call for boards and commissions” link on the home page, or picked up in person at City Hall.

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