Theatre Aspen this week announced it had completed its two-and-half-year-long, $2 million capital campaign to pay for its permanent lobby and revamped tent at the Hurst Theatre in Rio Grande Park.
The campaign crossed the finish line with a gift from the Goldrich Family Foundation. Donations from board members at Theatre Aspen, such as Melinda Goldrich, made up the bulk of the $2-million campaign, said Lisa Baker, the nonprofit’s new board president. Baker this week took over for co-presidents Katherine Sand and Melanie Sturm.
Gifts from the general public included the purchase of bricks surrounding the tent and premium-priced special seats at last summer’s shows, with some proceeds going to the campaign.
The nonprofit joined with the city of Aspen’s parks department, as the city began its ongoing renovation of the riverfront area and John Denver Sanctuary surrounding the theater. The tent, lobby and brick plaza were built in conjunction with a taxpayer-funded $1.4 million city beautification project that added ponds and wetlands to the area.
The campaign began with theater hands simply looking to replace their leaking, 18-year-old tent. They started with a $150,000 gift from Bob and Soledad Hurst, and a fundraising goal of $1 million. It grew with the ambitions of the plans, as architect Charles Cunniffe signed on to build a permanent lobby space to complement the city park plan.
The city’s support and partnership, Baker said, helped get the public and donors behind the campaign.
“The community saw that the parks [department] had bought into the fact that Theatre [Aspen] is part of the arts community in town, so people were enthusiastic about getting the new tent,” she explained.
Theatre Aspen’s campaign is closing as a slew of local nonprofits are slogging through multimillion-dollar capital campaigns, including the Aspen Community School’s $6 million push to match a state grant, the Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club’s $15 million campaign for new training facilities, and at least a dozen more.
Theatre Aspen fundraised for its productions separately from the tent campaign. All of its ticket-sale profits, for instance, go back into the production budget. According to its most recent available tax returns, for the fiscal year ending in April 2011, the nonprofit took in $2.08 million and spent $1.1 million on operations.
Closing the capital campaign is among a slate of big plans for the nonprofit in 2013 — its 30th anniversary — which include a staging of the epic “Les Misérables” in the 190-seat theater, and launching new education programs. The organization also won the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s “Nonprofit of the Year” award last month.
The classic Broadway musical is scheduled to open in the tent on June 25, followed by the one-man show “Fully Committed” on July 5 and “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” on July 10.
Casting for the shows is expected to begin this month in New York and here in the valley.
“‘Les Misérables’ is a huge, expensive undertaking,” said Theatre Aspen artistic director Paige Price, “and we are launching new programs this year, so now we need to focus on what lies ahead.”
Permanent bathrooms planned for the tent area are likely on hold until after the summer season, however, as the city and theater company have been unable to finalize those plans with a contractor.