Permanent performing arts center coming to Summit |

Permanent performing arts center coming to Summit

Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Liz Clark performed at the Keystone Pavilion on July 3, 2003.

KEYSTONE – Copper Mountain has frozen its plans to build a $25-$30 million big-act venue, but it looks like the Keystone Neighbourhood Company (KNC) will build a smaller, year-round, permanent performing arts center to meet the county’s needs.KNC, along with the Snake River Community Association – a group dedicated to enriching the lives residents and visitors through cultural, educational and social activities – have considered drawings for facilities that range from $1 million to $7 million.KNC has raised more than $500,000 to construct an indoor community center that could host concerts, theater, dance, comedy, weddings and conferences, said Keven Burnett, KNC executive director.The money came from annual real estate property assessments in and near River Run. Ten percent of the assessment money collected annually directly supports the community center fund. KNC has another $700,000, from assessments and transfer taxes, which also can be used for construction, Burnett said.

“In five years, we will have at least enough money to build a stripped, pavilion-style facility, which would be in the $1 1/2 million range,” Burnett said. “In my mind, we have another five years on the tent, and we will need to build a permanent facility. We want to build the best facility we can with the funds we have at the time.”Other communities have researched the viability of a year-round performing arts center, but none have gone through with a large-scale project. Breckenridge researched the possibility of replacing the Riverwalk Center tent with a permanent, convention-size facility to accommodate 1,000 people but concluded it wouldn’t make money.”It doesn’t pay for itself,” said Kim DiLallo, Breckenridge events and communication manager in an interview last summer. “We have not found any model that is actually able to suggest it will make money.””It’s not even close, and it’s unfortunate that it’s not even close,” said Ernie Blake, former Breckenridge mayor and arts supporter. “The costs of operating a facility – heat, electric – is incredible. It’s not just the capital costs; it’s the ongoing costs, and people don’t want to pay high ticket prices. We can’t charge fees like in New York City.”Burnett plans to get around the difficulties Breckenridge’s research found by building a smaller scale facility that might accommodate 500 people (with stadium seating) and supplementing its income with wedding and corporate event bookings.

“They were looking at a dedicated performing arts facility, from my understanding of the study,” Burnett said. “(But) a facility that has the ability to adapt to a variety of uses has the best opportunity to sustain itself. The diversity of events and operation is a plausible way to look at it, though I can’t say this is how we’re going to run it yet. “We are using the time at the pavilion to try different models of programming and operation. We’re working on strategies. When we feel we’re operating well in the summer time, then we can move to a year-round facility.”But the community wants a performing arts center, and it wants it now, said Josh Blanchard, events and Park Lane Pavilion manager.”We will build a permanent facility,” Blanchard said. “It’s just a matter of if it’s going to be a $1.5 million one or larger. If we can raise the money, our goal is to build a larger facility in size and scope than the Silverthorne Pavilion, but it depends on community support.”

The Snake River Community Association sent a letter asking its 45 members and the 350 people who filled out questionnaires at the Park Lane Pavilion in the last two summers to support its cause. Donation levels start at $10 and go beyond $500. “We’re early in the phase, and we’re looking at different options and we want community input,” Burnett said. “We are going to continue to put money aside for a community facility because when the tent goes, it will be more cost effective to build a permanent facility.”For more information, call Blanchard at (970) 496-4613.Kimberly Nicoletti can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 245, or at

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