Steamboat Creates to share vision for new performing arts center, seeks community input |

Steamboat Creates to share vision for new performing arts center, seeks community input

Blue bird day at the Art Depot.
submitted by Tim Hancock

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — For the past eight months, Steamboat Creates, formerly the Steamboat Springs Arts Council, has been reaching out to the community in the forms of more than 100 small-group meetings and more than 350 online surveys. The goal: to better understand how locals experience the art scene and the hopes they have for its future.

To the open-ended question “What do you want to see in the community, as a creative, that would help you grow?” one answer appeared more than any other.

“A performing arts center was the one that came up over and over again,” said Steamboat Creates Development Director Dagny McKinley. 

And so, on Friday, Sept. 27, Steamboat Creates will host a meeting to share its vision for a potential performing arts center and hear community input on the subject. 

According to McKinley, Steamboat Creates imagines a new performing arts center could elevate programming, including performances of the Steamboat Symphony Orchestra, Opera Steamboat, Yampa Valley Choral Society and Piknik Theatre, to new heights, while also hosting national competitions and productions. 

“The possibility of having a performing art center in Steamboat Springs is an incredible opportunity to share stories and ideas from around the country and world, inspire our youth to great heights and open our eyes to new ideas, cultures and beliefs,” McKinley said. “There is magic in the connection between audience and performers — a chemistry that will never take place again outside of that one night.”

If you go

What: Steamboat Creates host community input meeting for potential performing arts center
When: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 27
Where: Depot Art Center, 1001 13th St.

While several of Steamboat’s current venues can accommodate larger audiences, none have elements, such as load-in space for sets, wings, fly space or expansion areas, for larger performances. With such amenities, the potential performing arts center would be able to bring in more nationally acclaimed performances and competitions, increasing tourism to Steamboat, McKinley noted. 

“I’d invite people who have any questions, concerns or dreams about this to come to this meeting or email me (at, so their voices can be heard,” McKinley said.

Assuming community support for the project at Friday’s meeting, the next step forward will be a needs assessment, for which an outside organization would be hired to complete.

If results are positive, a feasibility study about the project would follow. More of a business plan, the feasibility study would determine how many seats the center might have, how parking would work and where funding for the project would come from. 

Steamboat Creates hopes to have these assessments completed by July 2020. 

The idea of building a performing arts center in Steamboat is not a new one. Between 1989 and 1991, a feasibility study for a potential performing arts center was conducted, with the results that the cost of building and maintaining the center would be too high. Steamboat Creates is optimistic that because the population of Steamboat has since doubled, from 6,800 in 1990 to more than 13,200 in 2019, the potential performing arts center will now be considered a realistic, positive addition to the city.

Julia Ben-Asher is a contributing writer for Steamboat Pilot & Today.

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