Silverthorne celebrates opening of $9M performing arts center |

Silverthorne celebrates opening of $9M performing arts center

By the time Saturday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Silverthorne Performing Arts Center was over, the blue, shiny ribbon had taken about all the chops it could handle.

First up with the oversized pair of scissors were the day’s keynote speakers, Silverthorne Mayor Bruce Butler, state Rep. Mille Hamner, Summit County Commissioner Thomas Davidson and Larry Kelly, president of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company’s board of directors. A few snapshots and a quick snip later, the ribbon was retied, and town officials took a turn.

This process repeated itself a handful of times, as Silverthorne Town Council and representatives of the Lake Dillon Theatre Company each got an opportunity, before finally everyone who attended the ceremony was invited up front for one last group cut.

The recurring photo op underscored the great hype surrounding the new $9 million facility, which had reached boiling point at Saturday’s daylong schedule of events to celebrate the center’s grand opening.

A new $9 million facility built in a public-private partnership between the town and the Lake Dillon Theatre Company, it represents more than a new fully functional performing arts center, with offices, an outdoor stage and indoor and outdoor art installations. Rather, it’s widely seen as a new community-gathering place and a catalyst for downtown development as Silverthorne looks to claim more of an identity.

And the location couldn’t be better for it, noted Silverthorne resident Robert Ottis, who got up early enough for an 8:30 a.m. yoga session, complete with a live cellist designed to help show off the smallest of three indoor performance spaces at the new theater called “The Lab.”

About the size of a dance studio with mirrors on the north wall, the small space stands as many people’s favorite nuance of the new theater. That’s because, in addition to a row of mirrors on the north wall, it also features a large, garage-style door on the east wall, which slides up to reveal a scenic view of the rustling Blue River.

“I think this is great,” Ottis said as the yoga session came to a conclusion and the river rustled in the background. “I mean just look at the view here. It’s very nice, very nice.”

Ottis said he read town officials’ comments in the newspaper recently, where they said they wanted Saturday’s ceremonies to be a community event for a community-gathering place, and he was not disappointed.

“You really get a sense of that,” he added. “You really feel community here, which is a nice feeling … It’s a first-class facility.”

During his remarks, Mayor Butler lauded the new building, along with the “community spirit” and the partnerships that made it possible, adding that the center was finished on time and within its budget.

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that it really will be a landmark for many, many reasons,” Butler said. “Not the least of which is that, as people come down to Fourth Street in the future, they will say, ‘Turn in at the theater.’ Whatever the case may be, it’s something that people will know about and see, and we’re very proud to have it for years to come.”

In turn, Rep. Hamner praised the arts and local communities, while commending the town for investing in both. Meanwhile, the county commissioners and president of the theater company board beamed with excitement.

Like almost everyone else at the grand opening, Jennifer Pedersen shared in the enthusiasm, and she said she’s eager to see what the new center can do for the town.

“I’m so excited,” she said, explaining that she’s been volunteering with the theater company for the last five or six years. “I’m so excited to see this space, where there’s multi-usage, and it will give the theater and other artists a great space to expand the opportunities in our community.”

However, like at least a couple other people at Saturday’s grand opening, she remains cautious about what the downtown developments could mean for one of Silverthorne’s most traveled thoroughfares, the Blue River Parkway/Colorado 9, especially in terms of traffic congestion and pedestrians’ safety.

Developing more pedestrian traffic on one side might be OK, she said, but just across the street from the new performing arts center, a $68 million mixed-use development is in the planning stages. With it and the new performing arts center each playing a role, town leaders have described it as a “transformation” and expressed a desire to create a “main street” experience along the highway through Silverthorne.

But Pedersen remains apprehensive, as it would also likely mean reduced speed limits and more pedestrians crossing the four-lane highway.

“I’m not a big fan of route 9 as ‘downtown’ at this point,” she said. “My concern is people getting back and forth across (the highway). I think it’s a great idea to have a ‘main street’ and I think this is a fantastic center to have, but I would like to see (the foot traffic) in a space that will be safe and help to expand our community.”

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