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ARCHIVED  April 1, 1996

Fort Collins, CSU officials study joint arts complex

FORT COLLINS — The city of Fort Collins and Colorado State University may join forces to build a new arts center and performance hall, if results of a feasibility study come up positive, city and CSU officials said.

“Both entities have needs,” Lincoln Center director David Siever said. “The question is, will there be any cost savings?”

The city and community groups will need a 500-seat theater and a 2,200 to 2,400-seat theater within 10 years to accommodate local theater and music groups and acts from out of town, Siever said. The Lincoln Center has a 220-seat Mini Theatre and an 1,100-seat theater, as well as meeting rooms.

OpenStage Theatre & Co. Inc., the main user of the Lincoln Center’s Mini Theatre, would like to remain in an intimate setting but needs about 150 more seats and better backstage facilities than the Mini Theatre offers, said Open Stage president Denise Freestone.

Colorado State’s needs are great, CSU vice president for administrative services Gerry Bomatti said.

“The theater for (CSU’s theater) program must rank at the bottom of any theater in the country,” Bomatti said. “Our performing-arts programs are using spaces that were never designed for that use.”

Johnson Hall, used by the theater program, was the old student-union theater. Much of the music program is in the building that was once the main library. The dance program has been using Amunds Hall, the old women’s gymnasium.

“They’re using hand-me-downs,” Bomatti said.

The consultants are looking at several options, including adding on to the Lincoln Center, converting the old Fort Collins High School and building a new facility.

The old high school is attractive, Bomatti said, because CSU faculty and students particularly need the new facility to be close to CSU’s main campus. The high school is only two blocks from the eastern boundary of that campus.

The city of Fort Collins and CSU would share the lobby, performance space, bathrooms and parking areas of a new performance hall, as well as the costs of building and managing the facility, Bomatti said. CSU would also need classrooms and practice rooms.

Bomatti brings valuable experience with such inter-governmental projects to this venture. In Fayetteville, Ark., Bomatti said, the University of Arkansas worked with the city to build and operate the Walton Center of the Performing Arts. And in Anchorage, Alaska, the University of Alaska, the state and the city shared a major arts facility.

The key, said Bomatti, is to put authority and responsibility in one fair-minded management entity.

“You want to create a structure that will stand the test of time,” Bomatti said, “not just relying on a few personalities who were in place when the project got started.”

Planners expect the $40,000-study, conducted by the architectural firm Hardy, Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, to be completed sometime later this spring.

“The hard thing, and it is hard,” Siever said, “is this is probably not going to happen for the next 10 years. In 10 years, we’re going to need this.”

FORT COLLINS — The city of Fort Collins and Colorado State University may join forces to build a new arts center and performance hall, if results of a feasibility study come up positive, city and CSU officials said.

“Both entities have needs,” Lincoln Center director David Siever said. “The question is, will there be any cost savings?”

The city and community groups will need a 500-seat theater and a 2,200 to 2,400-seat theater within 10 years to accommodate local theater and music groups and acts from out of town, Siever said. The Lincoln Center has a 220-seat Mini Theatre and an 1,100-seat…

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