Arts Center Rises from Pandemic Ashes – Literally


Like most nonprofits across the nation, the Durango Arts Center struggled to keep programs alive during the pandemic. But as the community begins to reopen and recover, the arts center will rise out of the ashes with plans to become bigger, stronger and more vibrant than ever. Sponsored by Alpine Bank

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Hi, I'm Beth Drum with Alpine Bank. At Alpine Bank we value the services that our nonprofit community offers. We hope you enjoy meeting some of these change makers as part of the Alpine Bank series, Community Matters.

Like most businesses and nonprofits in the country, The Durango Arts Center struggled to maintain programming and funding through closures and restrictive social distancing regulations during the pandemic. But as the community reopens and recovers, the Arts Center plans not only to rebuild programming and the arts community, but the center itself as it rises from the ashes of the pandemic. The center is in the early stages of launching a $10 million capital campaign to expand the facility by three times its size with a new theater and more space to share with other arts organizations. Art Center Director Brenda Macon says the nonprofit already has received seed funding to plan the campaign, which will include extensive community outreach through the summer and fall to determine just what the expansion will look like and what programs it will house. The Arts Center will expand up and over the North parking lot at the corner of East Second Avenue and Eighth street.

We're going to stay where we are. And we feel as though the Durango Arts Center is truly a keystone of the downtown community. We have a wonderful location. It was renovated, as you know, in the 1990's from an automobile dealership. And so we've been working within a wonderful space, but we're busting at the seams. We're ready to grow up and grow out. And I think it's time that the community will, I think they'll be very receptive to our plans. So everyone's kind of waiting to see what we do next.

The centers Barbara Conrad Gallery remained open through the pandemic with COVID limited admission. Work by local artists was on exhibit and for sale. Classes, workshops, and performances all moved online. The center plans a soft reopening of the theater with a 10 minute play festival in June. Also planned are a children's play featuring characters from author Shel Silverstein's children's books and an adult performance that will be determined later in the summer. In-person classes, including summer camps and workshops for children and adults, also will resume.

You know, during the course of the pandemic, there was a lot of concern about our community in so many different ways. Health and human services. Making sure people were fed and clothed and staying healthy and what to do in the event of an outbreak. We held on tight because we knew that when this was all over that the Arts Center would be the epicenter for celebration and community and coming back together. We're going to process this experience together. We're going to create together. We're going to make beautiful things and help our kids recover from their time of isolation, which has been profoundly impacting for them. And we've seen just a few times in the course of having our camps and classes, just the looks on these kids' faces coming back together again, being together. It's humbling, it's overwhelming. It's very emotional and it's exciting. And so we just can't wait to do that more and deliver that message of hope that there's wonderful things ahead for everybody.

In addition to its regular programming, the center will offer its new Living Artists Program in the gallery this summer. You can drop by, watch an artist at work and purchase their artwork on exhibit. Macon said center staff are relieved and eager to tackle a busy summer of in-person activities after working more than a year online.

That is a very exciting topic because we've got both visual art and theater art camps and classes for kids, as well as for adults. And so our education studio will be hopping upstairs with people learning everything from painting and drawing and ceramics all the way to, Jason's got some wonderful summer camp plans for youth Shakespeare programs and another play about Shel Silverstein, I believe, so I think it's going to be tons of fun for the kids. And it's just a wonderful way of exploring creative power and learning about who you are as a person, what you choose to express and just healing and coming together as a community is going to be, I think, a really wonderful thing to celebrate together.

To see a calendar of performances, workshops, and classes, visit Thanks for watching this edition of Community Matters brought to you by Alpine Bank and the Local News Network. I'm Wendy Graham Settle.


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