New manager hired to oversee New Ute Events Center |

New manager hired to oversee New Ute Events Center

Making sure the New Ute Events Center is “the biggest community asset it can be” is a key goal of the man hired by the City of Rifle to manage the soon-to-be opened facility.

Don Chaney of Glenwood Springs was hired Monday, April 28, as the city’s cultural and special events coordinator. Along with responsibility to manage the events center, Chaney will oversee the Centennial Park Summer Concert Series. Chaney starts his new duties on Monday, May 5, and will be paid a salary of just under $40,000. He succeeds Blair Bracken, who resigned the position earlier this month.

“I heard about the renovations going on there last year,” Chaney said. “Little did I know I’d be a part of what that facility is going to be all about.”

Chaney said the position’s duties were a “perfect fit” for the skills he’s acquired, such as 25 years of experience in the field of event production and management, including stage management, artist booking, public relations and event setup. His stage management experience includes work at Red Rocks Ampitheatre in Morrison, the Denver LoDo Music Festival and Jazz Aspen/Snowmass. Chaney also has a background in broadcasting and sales/marketing aspects of radio and television.

City Manager Matt Sturgeon said five candidates were interviewed for the position.

“After meeting with Don and reviewing his qualifications, it was evident he was the person for the position,” Sturgeon said in a news release. “His experience and contacts will allow him to hit the ground running when he starts on Monday.”

Chaney said his immediate plan is to sit down with people involved in the events center and see what they want the facility to focus upon.

“I just want to make sure it’s the biggest community asset it can be,” he stated. “Whether it’s a concert, a wedding or a school play, it won’t do anyone any good if it sits empty.”

The former Ute Theater was acquired by the city and operated as the Rifle Creek Theater for a time before it was closed in August 2012. Since then, extensive exterior and interior remodeling has been done to the 1940s-era building, and the city hoped to close out the approximate $2 million project soon.

A “rehearsal,” or “soft opening,” is planned for the evening of Friday, May 23, where the New Ute Theatre Society, a nonprofit group that helped the city through the building acquisition and remodeling process, and the city will open the facility to the public.

Officials and backers hope the center will increase business and tourism in Rifle and Western Garfield County by offering a space to present and enjoy diverse, affordable and quality arts and cultural programming.

The center includes amenities such as on-site sound and lighting equipment, stage and changing rooms, table or bleacher-style audience seating and a vendor area. The city plans to rent the facility on a first-come, first-serve basis.

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