Steamboat amphitheater project receives sizable grant

The stage area of the proposed Piknik Theatre amphitheater would be about 30 feet by 15 feet, flanked by six sound absorbing panels. The theater group just secured a grant to contribute towards the project, but has a long way to go to raise the rest.
Stuart Handloff/Courtesy photo

A staple in the Routt County performing arts scene, Piknik Theatre just qualified for a $125,000 grant from Colorado Creative Industries to use towards a new outdoor amphitheater on the Strawberry Park Elementary School campus.  

The nonprofit theater company now must raise the rest of money for the project that could cost as much as $650,000

Stuart Handloff, executive director at Piknik Theatre, said the project’s original estimate was around $500,000, but because of increasing construction costs, he’s had to change his budget. 

The contractor for the project is HLCC Construction Co. out of Steamboat Springs. 

The theater group hopes the community and local foundations will donate the rest of the funds by November, but Handloff fears that Piknik Theatre and the amphitheater project isn’t well-known.

He said the group has considered various fundraising methods, but for a project this size, many of the conventional strategies seemed inadequate. 

“Trying to sell cookies for half a million dollars, that’s not going to work,” Handloff said. “If people want to support this project, they’re going to support the project. They don’t need some hamburgers as bribery.”

The amphitheater would be designed to host up to 200 people with a combination of tiered seating and an open grassy area meant to accommodate anyone who wants to sprawl out and have a picnic. 

Piknik Theatre just secured a grant to help pay for an amphitheater, but has a long way to go to fundraise.
Stuart Handloff/Courtesy photo

“The thing that excites me about the amphitheater is that it’s being designed with acoustic panels and an acoustic design,” Handloff said. 

In addition to six outdoor sound absorbing panels, being a few blocks removed from the main roads in Steamboat will also help with acoustics. The closest road to the amphitheater would be Amethyst Drive which isn’t known for busy and loud traffic. Plus, that road is elevated compared to the elementary school so traffic noise should be minimal. 

According to Handloff, having an amphitheater in the back yard of the elementary school and so close to the middle school and high school also creates opportunities to collaborate with the Steamboat Springs School District on performance arts projects. 

Handloff said that it can be difficult for the school district to staff performance arts teachers in Steamboat because of the high cost of living, and a lot of performance arts programs only need part-time help. He said he would like to create a partnership with the nearby schools to help supplement the schools’ resources. 

Anyone who wants to donate to or sponsor the project can go to

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