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School of Dance looks to stay in Pump Room above fire station

Council changes from three-year lease to five

By Aimee Eaton

The Crested Butte Town Council agreed at its March 19 meeting to consider granting the Crested Butte School of Dance (SOD) a five-year lease for the Pump Room—the nearly 2,500-square-foot studio space located above the town fire station.

The town leases out several town-owned buildings to qualifying organizations for reduced rates. The standard lease agreement is for five years. However, staff were suggesting the School of Dance’s lease be shortened to three years in case the space at the Pump Room was needed for town services, and in the hope that the SOD would move into the new Crested Butte Center for the Arts building upon its completion.

“It is staff’s hope that once the new Center for the Arts is fully operational, the School of Dance will be willing to relinquish the lease on the Pump Room so the space will become regularly available for other users during the after-school and early evening hours,” town manager Dara MacDonald told the council.

SOD executive director Adge Lindsey responded that the organization, which regularly serves more than 400 dancers ranging in age from babies to seniors, would strongly prefer a five-year lease.

“It is completely uncertain what our future with the Center for the Arts looks like,” she said. “Phase 2 of the building is being completely revamped right now and we don’t know what our space will look like, how big it will be or if it will accommodate our needs.”

Lindsey said the SOD has a long history of working with the town, and it helped create both the studio spaces underneath town hall and in the Pump Room. SOD board president Don Cook added that the organization has been in the Pump Room space for 40 years.

“I understand that space being needed, but is it at the cost of a program that for 40 years has been providing so much for girls and boys of this community, and the shows that happen several times a year?” he asked the council. “I’m not sure why the School of Dance is being soloed out in its 501(c)(3) status among all these other groups that are saying what about me, what about me as they vie for space. Five years is not asking for very long.”

Cook told the council that the SOD is self-sustaining and has always paid for itself and its administration, and he believed that being put on the same or lower level of consideration than many of the new recreation programs popping up in the valley was a slight. He added that the SOD’s lease with the town hadn’t been updated since 2001.

“I don’t see why the expectation for us is to just accept three years when the lease for us has not been updated in 17 years,” he said. “We’re the only 501(c)(3) being asked to take a cut with a three year lease.”

Lindsey added that uncertainty about space can lead to uncertainty about programming, something she finds unacceptable.

“I’m very invested in making sure the programming continues,” she said. “We really have to make sure all 400 of our dancers keep dancing. We hope to have space in the Center for the Arts, it’s our dream space, but as of right now it’s nothing we can rely on. We’re not here to vie with town programming, but we want to make sure our existence continues.”

The council agreed that a five-year lease was appropriate and scheduled a public hearing for its April 2 meeting.

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