City spotlights idea of new theater
The story of the effort to build a performing arts center in Glenwood Springs has been like a play that never got past Act One.For decades, many Glenwood residents have dreamed of having a place uniquely suited for, and specifically dedicated to, holding plays, concerts and other events. City voters also have approved taxing themselves for purposes including building such a facility, as part of a community center with other amenities such as a pool.Today we have the community center and pool, along with attractions including an ice rink that was brought to town due to the hard work of skating enthusiasts in helping hunt down funding.But the city tax funds were inadequate to build everything voters had hoped to see. And private fundraising for a theater never gained much momentum, leaving the idea languishing.It was a welcome development, then, when City Council moved to revive interest in pursuing the theater. It has adopted as a goal for this year creating a temporary committee to look into the feasibility of building and operating a theater. More broadly, council also wants to create a permanent commission to help promote arts and cultural activities.That’s good to see as well. First suggested on council by Dave Merritt, the commission could help coordinate the efforts of local groups such as the Glenwood Springs Center for the Arts, Symphony in the Valley and Defiance Community Players. Mayor Bruce Christensen also sees it as a possible vehicle for pursuing public arts projects in Glenwood, an otherwise-artistic community that is lacking in that regard.As for the theater, it’s good to see the city taking a fresh look at the proposal. City leaders are showing they still recognize the community’s interest in having a theater and the benefits it would bring.Many theater backers would prefer to see it located downtown, to help boost downtown. This could fit in with the city’s downtown plans for redeveloping the Eighth Street area, and also could allow for the city and Garfield County Public Library System to work together to share facilities such as parking if the means can be found for building both a theater and new library in town.Paying for a theater would be the real trick. A tax measure could be a tough sell in a town where taxes have gone up a lot already over the years. The more probable option is a fundraising campaign. The city is in no position to be considering building a theater with its current funds, and the best that can be hoped for is if the city’s finances continue to improve, it might be able to help subsidize operations if one is built.The final act of Glenwood’s theater saga still may be years away, but a committee at least can help develop a possible script for getting from here to there.
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