Let’s face it: Mountain towns draw some interesting people, many who groove to the sound of their own tune. So, as more and more artists moved to Breckenridge, it seemed natural to create a Breckenridge Arts District.

It’s just that no one envisioned it happening so fast.

The Town of Breckenridge adopted a master plan in 2005 to renovate historical buildings to house various artistic mediums, but at the time, town council figured they’d let the “buildout,” or renovations, evolve organically, over 15-20 years.

But the Arts District became quite popular. So this month, council members decided to rev up the timeline and complete the entire project by 2014. Rather than slowly doling out money annually until 2020, they decided to hand over a lump sum to complete the Arts District master plan.

An artist works with clay at the Arts District. Photo by Liam Doran.

An artist works with clay at the Arts District. Photo by Liam Doran.

Now, they’re dusting off the 2005 Master Plan and presenting a new “BAD CONCEPT.” Yep. That’s really the acronym for the Breckenridge Arts District Concept. Maybe “BART” was too Simpson-like, and BARD too Shakespearean. Maybe they’ll reconsider the acronym once they read this blog (yes, I may be falling into that ever-popular notion that bloggers actually do influence the world).

What’s in store by 2014
Despite the acronym, the plan is really cool. The town plans to rehabilitate four historical structures, such as the Mikolitis Barn, which would host metalsmithing, and the Burro Barn, which would provide the all-important restrooms.

Three new buildings could host dance and a plethora of artistic modalities (some of which the Arts District already offers), including pottery, printmaking, photography, cooking, textiles and writing. The Tin Shop will continue to host visiting artists who teach public workshops, and other buildings will house local artists who will share their craftsmanship.

The plan also calls for a pit-firing area, a stone amphitheater with flagstone paving for special events, xeriscaping, a donor wall, a sculpture court, and adequate car and bike parking. Some areas, like sculpture gardens and plazas, are available for private investment.

A conceptual drawing of the proposed Arts District.

A conceptual drawing of the proposed Arts District.

The plan may also include an addition to the historical Breckenridge Theatre (you long timers may remember it as the rough-and-tumble Shamus O’Tooles).

Riverwalk may be changing too
As if that’s not enough, the artistic synergy includes plans to more fully integrate the Riverwalk Center into the Arts District and continue to work with Colorado Mountain College. The town owns the old college, now called Harris Street Community Center, where it can offer dance, ceramics and more.

Nearly all of the town’s nonprofit arts organizations, from the National Repertory Orchestra and Breckenridge Music Festival to the Breckenridge Festival of Film, Backstage Theatre and Breckenridge Heritage Alliance are working together, with town staff and council, under the name: Breckenridge Arts, Culture and History Council. (So far, they haven’t used BACH as an acronym, as that might suggest a bias toward the orchestral nonprofits.)

Besides completing the Arts District buildings, staff is reconsidering increased use for the Riverwalk Center, including more touring bands.

“It’s pretty exciting that all of this is happening at once,” said Kim Dykstra-DiLallo. “When it rains it pours — there’s lots of moving parts.”

The Arts District will be able to accommodate even more pottery classes. Photo by Liam Doran.

The Arts District will be able to accommodate even more pottery classes. Photo by Liam Doran.

On Jan. 22, town council will review more site plans for the Riverwalk Center. In March, it will further consider what the Riverwalk Center can do to accommodate more programming.

In the meantime, the Planning Commission will review the Arts District Concept, in terms of density, use, parking, architectural character and so on. Anderson Hallas is the project architect.

Check here for a schedule of town council meetings or visit BreckArts.com for general Arts District information, including a workshop calendar.

And, if you want to know more about the Arts District, check out our blog here.

 

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