the permanent

The Temporary, a popular Willits arts and entertainment venue that opened in August 2017, is living up to its name, but The Arts Campus at Willits hopes that the notice to vacate from the space’s landlord will jumpstart the effort to build The Permanent, an upgraded venue and arts center concept depicted above.

The Arts Campus at Willits (TACAW) announced Tuesday in a press release that The Temporary, the Basalt performance space in Willits Town Center, will be closing its doors for good on May 8. TACAW was informed earlier this month by Willits developer Platform Ventures (formerly Mariner Real Estate Management) that Platform will not be renewing TACAW’s two-year lease on the rough space housing The Temporary.

“We got a 90-day notice that we have to vacate,” said TACAW Executive Director Ryan Honey. “Part of our deal with our landlord was that that was in there because they were giving us a good rate on the rent, and if they could find someone who could pay the full market value then they had that ability. So they implemented that.”

The announcement means the end of the popular midvalley venue, but as its name suggests The Temporary was never intended to last forever, and its closing helps accelerate the timetable on The Permanent, TACAW’s forever home, which is going to be built on a different parcel in Willits. The Town of Basalt has a 99-year lease on the land, which is dedicated for a performing arts venue.

“We’ve learned so much programming here that there’s not much more The Temporary can teach us, and we really feel like it’s time to move down the street,” said Honey. “What we’ve learned is that we can move down the street much faster if we phase construction of the building, so we’re going to jump into Phase 1 of the construction, which is a space roughly the size of The Temporary, plus some offices and a rehearsal room – not the gigantic theater, but a Temporary-sized space – and we think we can fast-track that and begin construction within a year, and then the construction would be a year.”

“This will help us get to our original vision faster,” added TACAW Artistic Director Marc Breslin. “Sometimes a door closes and another opens, and I think that’s how we and the (TACAW) board feel.”

Asked to comment, Platform Ventures spokesman Tim Belinski, who has helmed the Willits development for a number of years, said, “Their space was always under a short-term arrangement, so we’re coming to the end of that, and TACAW is taking the bull by the horns and figuring out how The Temporary becomes The Permanent. It’s proactive on their part, and it was inevitable with the way the space was set up.”

Belinski said he has a tenant under contract for the space, but he wouldn’t reveal the nature of the new lessee. The tenant was procured and negotiations were conducted with no input from TACAW, which only learned of the decision after the contract had been signed and was given no opportunity to match any offers.

“It wasn’t that kind of a situation,” said Belinski.

The move will close the curtain on The Temporary after a run of less than two years. The venue opened in August 2017 and has so far programmed more than 225 diverse cultural acts including music, independent cinema, comedy, theater, lectures, kids performing arts, poetry and more. In its press release, TACAW also noted that it has partnered with 35 nonprofits, hosted hundreds of educational workshops and enjoyed the patronage of nearly 25,000 individuals.

The venue will stay open and active until May, with upcoming programming including comedian Adam Cayton-Holland this Thursday, country musician Corb Lund on Feb. 16 and the Colorado Shakespeare Festival’s production of “Macbeth” on Feb. 18.

It’s hoped by all sides involved that the closing of The Temporary will help rally TACAW’s many supporters and donors to get The Permanent built more quickly, but from a performing arts standpoint, it means that TACAW will continue only by hosting events in pop-up spaces, private residences and other venues around Willits for the next two years or so.

“We’re extremely grateful to Mariner (Platform Ventures) for the opportunity to program The Temporary and learn all that we did,” said Honey in closing. “We understand that they’re trying to fill their space, so we respect the time that they gave us.”

Todd Hartley is the special sections editor for Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at todd@aspendailynews.com.

Special Sections Editor