Boettcher Concert Hall tear-down plan riles tenants

Photo: Boettcher Concert Hall
Boettcher Concert Hall in Denver, home of the Colorado Symphony

A proposal to tear down Denver’s Boettcher Concert Hall to make way for an outdoor amphitheater is causing concern among tenants at the Denver Performing Arts Complex (DPAC.)

If Denver Arts & Venues goes ahead with its proposal to raze the Colorado Symphony’s home, the orchestra may move into the Ellie Caulkins Opera House.

There, it would have to share one stage with the other two main tenants, the Colorado Ballet and Opera Colorado.

Opera Colorado director Greg Carpenter says the City’s draft rehearsal and performance plan would heavily impact his organization’s schedule and bottom line.

“That plan asked us to build a set, take the set down, rebuild it again," Carpenter says. "That kind of activity, in order to allow for the symphony performances, was thousands of dollars of increased money in our budget.”

Carpenter also says that the draft plan does not account for the possibility that the opera might produce more than two operas per season in the near future.

"We've had two very financially successful fiscal years," Carpenter says. "We just ended one in June with a $231,000 surplus. And we're starting to embark upon plans to move back to three operas. This plan does not allow us to move to three operas in the Opera House."

The city’s proposal would also likely affect the Colorado Ballet’s annual "Nutcracker" production, which generates $3 million annually -- that's almost 50 percent of the company’s budget, Colorado Ballet artistic director Gil Boggs says.

"There would probably be substantial impact to us if the symphony were to move into the Ellie Caulkins Opera House," Boggs says.

Boggs says a proposal city officials shared with him around 10 months ago aimed to keep the Colorado Ballet's lucrative "Nutcracker" performance run intact and move the symphony to another space during the busy holiday season.

But Boggs isn't so sure that this plan will now be able to go ahead.

"From what we're hearing now, it doesn't sound like there would be another place for them to perform," Boggs says.

Yet the ballet's artistic director says the city has been good about keeping DPAC's tennants in the loop about the changes ahead and is optimistic that the city of Denver will work things out.

"The city began discussions about the potential of the symphony well over a year ago and we've had periodic meetings to discuss all of this," Boggs says. "It's up to the city to make sure we all remain viable. So hopefully whatever plans eventually do evolve out of this, it works for everyone."