Cedaredge has long been home to a wealth of talented artists, musicians and craftsmen, many of whom are featured in galleries, at community festivals or during the First Friday Art Walks hosted by the Cedaredge Area Chamber of Commerce. Now an effort is underway to pull together the area's thriving arts, cultural and educational endeavors into a venue to be known as the Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center.
A dedicated arts center has been a dream of a small group of supporters which has observed, and admired, the operation of the Blue Sage Center for the Arts in Paonia. Brainstorming sessions led to the formation of a board of directors which is enthusiastically turning that dream into reality.
"Everything is falling into place," said board president Deborah Shaffer. A building has been located and nonprofit status is pending.
She excitedly shared the news that David Starr, board vice president, is currently in negotiations with Wayne and Robin Melson, owners of the historic Main Street building which formerly housed the Great Escapes Spa.
"We are excited to be part of this venture and that the Grand Mesa Arts and Events Center has chosen our historic building as their home," the Melsons said.
The spacious downtown venue is ideal, Shaffer said. Plans include performance spaces, rooms for dance and yoga classes, and places for making and displaying works by local and regional artists.
"A lot of talented people are stepping up to make this dream a reality," Shaffer said. In addition to Starr, board members include treasurer Trey Gronenthal, secretary Cindy Starr, Mara Erwin, Jane Dupree and Dea Jacobson.
David Starr, owner of Starr's Guitars in Cedaredge, is a singer songwriter with deep roots in the music scene in western Colorado. His wife Cindy has spent many years networking and promoting the creation of this center. Jane Dupree is a fabric artist, Trey Gronenthal is co-owner of Reve Portrait Gallery, and Jacobson is the director of Blue Heron Yoga. Mara Erwin is a recent Cedaredge transplant who provides experience in downtown revitalization.
An advisory council includes Judy Fairchild, Mitchell Gronenthal, Perry Hotz, Terry Hotz, Tonie Miller, Tracy Munson and Nancy Snowdon.
Together, they create a well-rounded organization with artists and visionaries who have practical experience in fundraising, marketing, communication, social media and organizational management.
Programming is in the conceptual stage, but will include offerings for children and adults, from yoga to dance to arts and crafts. David Starr is ensuring the performance spaces have state-of-the-art acoustics and other features necessary to satisfy the needs of performers. A gift shop for local artisans is also in the works.
In the meantime, the board is actively pursuing grants and donations for renovation of the building. As a nonprofit, the center will offer tax deductions for donations from individuals and families who would like to become patrons of this exciting community collaboration.
"Building a strong financial foundation is the key to the success of this venture," Schaffer said.
"This collaborative effort has strong support in the community and will fill a need that has long been recognized by the citizens of the Surface Creek area and its visitors," Shaffer said. "We look forward to opening next spring!"
At their March 5 meeting Commissioners Doug Atchley, Mark Roeber and Don Suppes made two appointments to the county planning commission. Steve Shea was reappointed for a three-year term.