Center for the Arts expansion construction on schedule and on budget

Almost $12 million pledged

By Mark Reaman

The Crested Butte Center for the Arts expansion appears to be on budget and pretty much on schedule. In a report to the Crested Butte Town Council in December, Center board president Ed Schmidt, executive director Jenny Birnie and construction manager Crockett Farnell all gave a positive overview of the status of the expansion process.

“Work will continue through the winter on our Phase One, which is the construction of the new building,” explained Schmidt. “The Phase One budget is $12.6 million and the project remains on budget.”

Farnell said the crews have completed all the underground utility work and the earthwork and are close to finishing the front parking lot off Sixth Street that will open up that area for the winter. Structural steel work has started and should be seen as the roof takes shape.

The start of construction began a bit later than hoped for but Phase One should be completed in early 2019. Performances in the new building are expected to begin in the spring of 2019.

Phase 2 of the project, which is the renovation of the existing Center building, won’t begin until fundraising and construction for Phase One is complete but that is expected to be the summer of 2019. The outdoor work, including the Alpenglow stage, will be the final stage of the project.

The budget appears to be in good shape as well. Schmidt said a contingency fund is part of the funding but it has not been touched. While it was budgeted and expected that about $4 million would have been spent on work at this point, Schmidt said that about $1.9 million had been spent. The Center, he said, had $6.2 million in financial commitments on hand. “So we have a better cash flow than anticipated,” he told the council.

“The campaign to date has raised or received pledges of $11.8 million,” said Birnie. “There are many fundraising efforts going on. There is still a lot of interest in our project.”

Birnie said efforts were under way to start an operating endowment fund for the sustainability of the Center.

“The campaign is where it needs to be and there are still a lot of opportunities for fundraising,” summarized Schmidt.

Birnie told the council that the winter programming season began December 18 and looks to be growing. She and chairperson of the Crested Butte Creative District Melissa Mason also touched on some statistics from a recent Arts and Economic Prosperity Study that showed Crested Butte was booming with art and cultural contributions. Art was a more than $10.2 million industry in Crested Butte and it supported 252 full-time-equivalent jobs.

“For a town this size, that is about twice as much as communities of similar size,” Birnie said, noting that was measuring just the local non-profit arts organizations.

“The Creative District is important to Crested Butte and people coming here need to be educated about all the possibilities they have here,” added Mason. “One stat showed that 27 percent of the people coming here are coming primarily for an art event. This is a huge economic driver for the community.”

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