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Center for Arts on time for late June opening in CB

Looking for another $2.5 million before July

By Mark Reaman

The new expanded Crested Butte Center for the Arts building is on time and on schedule and should host its first event at the end of June.

In an update to the Crested Butte Town Council last week, Center for the Arts representative on the project Ed Schmidt relayed that the Phase 1 portion of the project—the new building—is closed in and the focus is on interior work, including things like drywall.

“The construction costs are directly on budget,” he said at the March 4 council meeting. “There are some upgrades being added but they are being paid for by private donations.”

Schmidt said 90 percent of the work has been done by local contractors and some have even offered “in-kind” work as a donation. Formal change orders have accounted for less than 10 percent of the construction costs. Schmidt said “$12 million and change” has been spent on the basic building costs.

Schmidt said Phase 2 of the Center expansion—the renovation of the current building—will not begin until Phase 1 is completely finished. He said the idea is to gear that structure toward an Arts Education Center with several studios, offices and storage. “We are exploring different alternatives,” he said.

Schmidt said the building was a valuable town asset but he wasn’t sure if and how it would be used this summer. “There is no intention to leave a useable building empty,” he said. “We need to really look at it at the completion of Phase 1.”

Center board president Joel Benisch told the council there were a few times this coming summer that events would be happening in both the old and the new building on the same night. He said there might be a concert in the new building while the Public Policy Forum lecture would be held in the old one.

“We still have some fundraising to do before we start the second phase,” said Schmidt. He said Phase 3, which is a revamp of the Alpenglow stage in the same location but with a new configuration, already has a donor pledging to pay for the upgrade but it won’t happen until Phase 2 is complete.

Center for the Arts executive director Jenny Birnie said the hope was to open the new “Pirate Park” on the same day as the Center, after an Elk Avenue parade. That park project is set to begin when the snow melts.

Birnie said almost $18 million has been raised thus far for the overall Center expansion project. “We have raised $17.8 million and this includes construction costs, architect/design costs, some equipment and FFE, soft costs like marketing and fundraising expenses and Center costs that include insurance, surveying, permits, etc.,” she said.

An operating fund for the Center is also being established. “The $2.5 million for the Front Row club (25 members paying $10,000 per year for 10 years) is separate and will support the operations of the new Center over the next 10 years,” Birnie explained by email.

“We currently have 20 members of the ‘Front Row’ that are contributing to that and we want a few more,” Birnie said. “The goal now is to also raise another $2.5 million for upgraded equipment and things like furniture and fixtures. My goal is to raise it by July 1. That is aggressive but doable.”

The first scheduled event is a June 29 balcony dinner. The Crested Butte Music Festival will then utilize the building between July 1 and July 28 for its summer concert series. “We are pushing as hard as we can to get all of the Music Festival events in the new building this summer,” Schmidt said.

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