Playhouse crosses fingers for HB22-1409

Arts community seeks additional $20 million for state revitalization grant program

Deborah Grigsby
dgrigsby@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 5/6/22

The curtain is about to close this year’s legislative session and creative types from across the state are hoping the Colorado Community Revitalization Grant program gets a $20 million encore.

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Playhouse crosses fingers for HB22-1409

Arts community seeks additional $20 million for state revitalization grant program

Posted

The curtain is about to close this year’s legislative session and creative types from across the state are hoping the Colorado Community Revitalization Grant program gets a $20 million encore.

And as HB22-1409 moves on from the Senate Appropriations Committee to the full Senate, the odds are improving.

Administered by Colorado Creative Industries in partnership with the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, the CCRG program provides vital gap funding for a range of building projects that incorporate or benefit the arts.

It all started last year with SB21-252, which created the initial $65 million round of funding that prioritized shovel-ready projects that promote immediate economic development through the creative industries; promoted regional equity and reached underserved communities; demonstrated strong community buy-in; and leveraged additional funding sources.

Shovel-ready projects like the new Miners Alley Performing Arts Center that was hoping for a $3 million grant from the program.

The program was supposed to be a one-time good “thing,” according to Colorado Business Committee for the Arts Deputy Director Meredith Badler, but a surge in grant applications and the rising cost of building materials quickly depleted the initial funding allocation.

“That $65 million went very quickly, and we saw that coming,” she said. “It got passed in the legislature in April or May, they started making grants in September October, by December, half of that money was gone.”

The remainder was gone by March of 2022, funding more than 30 projects across the state.

Now, shovel-ready projects like the Miners Alley Performing Arts Center are crossing their fingers that HB22-1409 sponsors can push it through before this year’s legislative session ends on May 11.

Playhouse Artistic and Executive Director Len Matheo is hopeful but pragmatic.

“Our gap is $3 million dollars,” Matheo said. “How much that gap funding would have come in at, well, we don’t know and we were told from very beginning a lot of it would depend on how many other projects there were.”

Lisa DeCaro, president of the Miners Alley Playhouse Board of Directors, said, for the MAPAC, it was just unfortunate timing as they applied in December, only after they felt their project was solid and shovel-ready, as the program guidelines required.

Matheo said he knows the MAPAC’s application scored highly, but the project will have to be scaled back without another infusion of cash from the state until that gap can be filled.

DeCaro added that CBCA has been instrumental in helping elected officials understand the economic impact of the arts beyond obvious social and educational impact and economic impact.

Matheo said he anticipates the new performing arts center to support close to 150 jobs and is good for the economy.

“And then there’s the ripple effect,” Badler said. “Their whole idea (around the MAPAC) is to double the seating capacity, and that means double the number of people having dinner before a show, and bringing their family and out-of-town friends, and staying in the community.”

Matheo, DeCaro, and Badler encourage those interested in supporting this effort to contact their respective legislators using CBCA’s online tool that automatically generates a letter for the occasion.

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