Breckenridge Backstage Theatre’s needs grow beyond its current space
January 31, 2018
Breckenridge Backstage Theatre is looking for a new place to build its sets; something that's indoors, heated, has high ceilings and will keep the nonprofit's volunteers happy, safe and warm.
Ideally, the new workshop would be of a good size and come with some big, wide doors too, allowing the volunteers who create the sets to freely move them in and out of the space.
Backstage Theatre is also looking to lease the space for "a reasonable, nonprofit rate," new executive director Erin Gigliello explained over the phone Wednesday.
The search for a new workshop was highlighted in a Monday news release put out by the theater group. "Right now, the Theatre relies on an outdoor space to build sets, but as you can imagine, in the chilly months, this becomes quite a challenge," it read.
Gigliello inherited the problem after taking over the job at the beginning of January. She confirmed Wednesday that the search for a new place to build sets is a direct response to recent complaints from volunteers who feel there isn't a good place for them at the theater.
Now, Gigliello is trying to find a solution that suits everyone.
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Backstage Theatre puts on many performances throughout the year at the town-owned Breckenridge Theater on the Arts District campus.
The property has been through several remodels since it became a community theater, according to the Breckenridge Tourism Office, including one in 2002, when the town and "a long list of donors" paid for a large-scale project to revamp the property and create "a permanent home" for Breckenridge Backstage Theatre. The theater underwent another large-scale remodeling project more recently in 2016 that gave the building the character and many of the features that people see there today.
Even though the nonprofit group calls Breckenridge Theater home, Backstage Theatre leases out the space, and in the lease, the nonprofit is forbidden from doing construction work inside the theater.
Gigliello said she understands the restriction, why it's in place and, perhaps just as importantly, why it's become a problem for some of the volunteers, whom the theater group relies on to do its shows.
"(Breckenridge Theater) is our home so we want to treat it well, kind of like you don't want to cut up planks in the middle of the living room," the director said.
At the same time, she also acknowledged that, "It's important to Backstage Theatre to make sure the volunteers are comfortable and have the ability to work because, after all, they are volunteers."
In addition to working outside, there have been complaints that the volunteers have to carry heavy tools and building supplies up a narrow set of stairs to the outdoor patio, where much of the set construction currently takes place.
"It's brutal going up and down and working outside," said Dan Wall, who was once honored as a volunteer of the year by the theater but recently quit working with the nonprofit until some of these issues are addressed.
Gigliello said she hasn't quite figured out how to entirely eliminate the need to climb the stairs yet, but if the set work can be moved off-site, they can at least greatly reduce the frequency of those climbs to days when they have to move the sets.
She's also looking at rounding up a good mix of strong-bodied volunteers to help move them after they've been built.
Wall isn't sure every issue that led to his resignation will be resolved, but he found good reason to be optimistic with Monday's announcement.
"Gosh, yes. I thought that was wonderful news," Wall said of Monday's announcement. "It shows they're getting serious about it, and they even mentioned the cold weather."