Longmont City Council Hears Calls for a Community Performing Arts Facility

February 2, 2019 GMT

For the second year in a row, advocates of a building a new community performing arts center showed up at a Longmont City Council retreat to make their case for city involvement in developing such a facility.

Judi Watson and Jill Harrison, members of the Longmont Performing Arts Initiative, on Friday told council members the city lacks adequately sized and equipped space for any extensive productions by the local symphony, singers, actors and dancers.

Parking is limited at some of the facilities that performing arts groups now use, and not many places can accommodate a large audience, said Watson, a member of the Longmont Symphony board of directors.


No local facility now has adequate floors and wings for ballet, not many can accommodate really large audiences, and no large local facility has state-of-the-art technical lighting and sound capability, she said.

Harrison said Longmont has an opportunity to move forward with development of a state-of-the-art performing arts center and become a regional center for the arts.

She said the city could reap potential revenue if it had a facility that attracted regional and national performers.

City council heard similar pitches in May, at its 2018 retreat, about the need for a performing and cultural arts center. Watson also was one of the people who spoke at last year’s retreat.

The Performing Arts Initiative is a community group comprised of Longmont’s seven major performing arts organizations: Centennial State Ballet, Longmont Chorale, Longmont Concert Band, Longmont Symphony Orchestra, Longmont Theatre Company, Longmont Youth Symphony and Longs Peak Chorus.

A council work plan for 2018-2020 that emerged from last year’s retreat includes an objective of trying to build such a center, possibly along with a hotel complex and possibly through some sort of public-private partnership.

It wasn’t the only item on that work plan, though, and council members spent several hours during Friday’s retreat reviewing progress and plans for achieving the goals and objectives on many of the other projects in what is now a detailed 27-page document.

Council members on Friday made no major changes, reductions or additions in any of the plan’s visions, goals and objectives. But they offered a number of additional suggestions for steps they and city staff might take the rest of this year and in future years.

Among the work plan’s goals are:

• “Provide high quality pre-K learning opportunities for all our children so that they have a good start in life.”


One of the work plan’s objectives in that goal is to annually increase the number of Longmont 3- and 4-year-olds in “quality preschool programs.” Another is to increase the time children are read to, particularly among low-income families. A third is to ensure all school-age children have access to high-quality internet.

• “Incentivize and provide housing and support services that end the risk of homelessness in our community.”

One of the work plan’s stated objectives is “to end the risk of homelessness in our community.” Another is to support those at risk of losing their housing.

• “Focus on making sure that our most vulnerable residents have the resources and opportunity to thrive.”

One objective under that goal is to “provide resources to those battling mental health and substance abuse” problems. Others are to “assist those in need in our community,” to “provide resources and opportunity to thrive for seniors,” and “provide resources and opportunity to thrive for youth.”

• “Have a diverse housing stock with higher densities and access to high quality public transportation, food and jobs.”

One objective is to provide “a full spectrum of attainable housing for all incomes and stages of life.” A second is to have “connected, efficient, innovative, affordable local and regional transportation,” and a third is “quality employment for all.”

• “Protect and respect our natural public amenities as part of the development process.”

One objective is to finalize a vision for the St. Vrain River corridor “that is compelling, inspires funding and ensures a balance between development and natural resources.”

• “Become a nationally recognized geographic center of science, technology, engineering, education, arts, and entrepreneurism.”

One objective is to “create a series of vibrant community-supporting centers along the Main Street corridor.” Another is the possible development of the concert and performing arts center and hotel complex.

• “Bring together private industry, local government, nonprofits and institutions of higher education as well as the St. Vrain Valley School District to ensure the highest quality, best prepared workforce in the western United States.”

An objective of that goal is to “provide new opportunities for higher education in Longmont.”

The full council work plan, including visions, goals, objectives and action steps — the progress to date toward achieving those goals and objectives — can be viewed at tinyurl.com/y8wll2gt .

The original council retreat agenda included discussion of the work plan and other issues on Friday and — if needed — concluding the retreat on Saturday morning. However, council members decided they had covered enough of the agenda by late Friday afternoon that they did not need to return on Saturday.

John Fryar: 303-684-5211, jfryar@times-call.com or twitter.com/jfryartc