Classical music. Reggae. Latin salsa. Ballet. Opera. Flamenco. Rock. Theater ranging from the historic melodrama to Broadway musicals and the latest in avant-garde. Paintings, sculpture, photography and more.
Whatever your taste in art or music, you can probably find it here.
The biggest project on the arts horizon, though, isn’t what’s going to be on stage. It’s the idea of a new arts and science complex. The STEAM Park, which is proposed to be built next to the Powerhouse Science Center west of Camino del Rio near the intersection with Main Avenue, would include a theater, an amphitheater, classrooms, office and retail space. STEAM stands for science, theatre, education, arts and music.
“Fort Collins raised $27 million for something similar to the STEAM project, and it has become a community hub,” said Renny Fagan, president and CEO of the Colorado Nonprofit Association.
Fort Collins’ population, 155,000, is almost three times the population of La Plata County. The STEAM Park is estimated to cost $30 million.
Tim Schultz, president and executive director of the Boettcher Foundation, also thinks the STEAM Park has significant potential. The Boettcher Foundation only funds “bricks and mortar,” or building campaigns, and has donated in recent years to Manna Soup Kitchen, Durango Public Library and Fort Lewis College.
“I love the STEAM project,” Schultz said. “While I can never guarantee funding on behalf of our trustees, this idea of relocating the arts seems like it would bridge the barrier of the highway and expand the vitality of downtown to the river.”
The five nonprofits collaborating to create the STEAM Park – the Powerhouse Science Center, Durango Arts Center, Music in the Mountains, San Juan Symphony and Durango Film: An Independent Film Festival – were awarded a grant from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and raised the matching funds, including more than $47,000 from the city of Durango, to fund a $150,000 feasibility study.
Among the issues to be studied are the complicated traffic patterns along Camino del Rio, the need to find a new site in the downtown area for the Durango Fire Protection District station that would have to be relocated, office space for the city departments that work out of River City Hall and how to create steady funding for operating a $30 million facility.
There’s no question the Durango Arts Center, which is housed in an old car dealership, needs a new home.
“They’re spending so much money on patching stuff up, just basic things like repairing leaks in the roof,” said Carol Salomon, co-chairwoman of the STEAM Park project. “In five years, we’re going to be worrying that it’s going to fall down around them.”