Lake Dillon Theatre Co. to move to $6 million new complex in Silverthorne

Downtown Silverthorne
City of Silverthorne plan including location for where the new $6 million performing arts facility will be built.

The city of Silverthorne and Lake Dillon Theatre Company (LDTC) announced a new partnership this week that will bring the 21-year-old performing arts organization from its long-standing home in the town of Lake Dillon to Silverthorne, a few miles up the road in Summit County.

Silverthorne and LDTC are collaborating on the construction of a new, $6 million facility that will not only host the non-profit arts organization’s year-round performances, but also house administrative and educational space for the company.

The 14,000 square foot building is scheduled to open in spring 2017 at the intersection of Blue River Parkway (also known as Highway 9) and Fourth Street. It will be located adjacent to the Silverthorne Pavilion, the site of many of many other cultural and social events in Silverthorne.

The new arts complex will include a slightly bigger black-box theater space than LDCT currently makes use of Dillon, seating up to 110 patrons rather than the current maximum capacity of 70. It will also enable the company to operate entirely under one roof. Under the present circumstances, LDTC’s administrative offices are located off-site and much of the set-building and educational offerings occur out of doors in the parking lot, which presents challenges during the colder months of the year.

An ongoing partnership

The two entities began conversations about a possible partnership about a year ago, when Silverthorne found out that LDTC was in search of a new space.

“We have experienced significant growth since 2008 and outgrew our facility several years ago,” Joshua Blanchard, LDTC executive director says. “We were looking at different possibilities both in the town of Dillon and elsewhere in Summit County. The proposal from Silverthorne was the most exciting.”

Blanchard says LDTC was drawn to Silverthorne’s proposal not just because of the promise of a shiny, new building, but also because of the alignment of the strategic visions of the city of Silverthorne and his organization.

“It will be an ongoing partnership,” Blanchard says. “Investing in the arts is part of Silverthorne’s plan for growth.”

“The community is excited about what the facility represents as a catalyst for realizing our vision of a vibrant pedestrian-oriented downtown area,” Silverthorne town manager Ryan Hyland says.

Silverthorne has already established itself as a center for shopping, with the Outlets at Silverthorne, and recreation. More recently, Hyland says, the downtown area has seen the development of a brewery, a hotel and condominiums. Hyland says a second brewery will open later this year near the site of the new theater.

Silverthorne is the latest in a string of Colorado communities with plans to build new or expand existing cultural facilities. Parker's PACE Center is a relatively recent addition to the landscape. According to the state arts agency, Colorado Creative Industries (CCI), Colorado Springs is in the early stages of developing plans for a new performing arts center. And Crested Butte is working on an expansion of its downtown arts complex as well as strategizing about building a second facility in the area.

Hyland says community feedback so far on the news has been overwhelmingly positive.

“As a patron, I love being no more than a row from the actors, the range of material -- from “Kiss of the Spiderwoman” to “Scapin” -- and the professional quality at every turn,” longtime LDTC patron Susan France says. “The move to Silverthorne will sustain LDTC's distinct intimacy while adding some well-deserved amenities for patrons, actors, and the theater's many volunteers.”

Significant financial outlay

The project represents a significant financial investment for Silverthorne.

The city has pledged $4 million towards the $6 million cost of realizing the new facility. This sum constitutes almost half of the municipality’s general annual fund, which currently stands at $10 million. Hyland says the city is planning to finance half of the project cost and dip into its reserve fund for the rest.

“We have healthy reserves and we have the luxury of being a community which has no debt,” Hyland says. “We own outright everything we operate.”

Under the terms of the operating agreement, the details of which are yet to be determined, Silverthorne will lease space to LDTC. Blanchard and Hyland say they expect the partnership to last at least 20 years.

The theater company is also in the midst of a capital campaign to raise $3 million through private donors, grants and local businesses. Blanchard says his organization plans to raise $2 million for the building costs. The additional $1 million will help defray fundraising expenses, assist the company as it transitions to Silverthorne in the 2016-2017 season, and contribute to a reserve fund for future use.

Silverthorne is currently searching for an architect and contractor for the project and hopes to come to a decision about the team in April or May. Hyland says the general public will be able to offer input on the final design.

Programming plans

Blanchard says his company will retain the same name for the time being. Programming will continue along the same lines as it has in the past with a combination of musicals, comedies and dramas. But both the arts organization and the City of Silverthorne say that the collaboration will eventually lead to an expansion and development of the current offering.

“We’re very happy with what they’re doing right now,” Hyland says. “But the partnership might present new opportunities and we haven’t yet explored what they might be.”