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Local group renews push for performing arts center

Residents interested in center promise to raise $35 million in next five years to help fund project
Maestro Elliot Moore leads members of the Longmont Symphony Orchestra during a rehearsal on Saturday, Oct. 3, 2020. (Photo by Matt Hagerman)

Local performing artists and residents have once again called for a performing arts center in Longmont.

Elliot Moore, music director of the Longmont Symphony Orchestra, asked Longmont City Council during public comment on Tuesday to seriously consider building the Longmont Center for the Performing Arts.

“Longmont needs a dedicated space for the performing arts,” he said. “We have a vibrant local performing community, ranging from vocal groups to ballet and rock and bluegrass.”

A group of roughly 30 people also attended the city council meeting in support of the center, something that members of the community have been pushing for several years. Moore said the Longmont Symphony regularly fills Vance Brand Civic Auditorium — the largest performing arts space in the city with about 1,350 seats and housed at Skyline High School.

“Longmont seldom sees world class traveling acts, as artists of this caliber cannot perform in a high school,” he said.

In 2019, a consulting group was hired to study the viability of an arts and events center in Longmont. A group of local organizations shared the $150,000 cost, including $75,000 from the Longmont Performing Arts Initiative.

Longmont City Council discussed the results of that study in April 2021, which estimated that the center in its first phase would cost about $104 million for a 1,000-1,500 -seat auditorium and 25,000 square-foot multipurpose hall. The report estimated that after 10 years of operation, the facility would attract $3.8 million in direct spending annually and $11.7 million in off-site spending.

At the time, the city council gave no deadline to staff for coming up with a detailed plan for the facility, but did emphasize that there would need to be a breakdown of funding sources. Since then, the costs of construction have risen dramatically, so it’s unclear if the cost would still be near that $104 million mark.

On Tuesday, Moore proposed a public-private partnership, offering to raise $35 million in the next five years for a performing arts center in exchange for a city bond issuance of $45 million.

With the city council considering asking voters this fall to approve a “quality of life” tax to fund or build key facilities in Longmont, Moore requested that the performing arts center be seriously considered.

“If our children don’t experience the high level of art and music that we all dream of here in Longmont, many will grow up without knowing and, for some, a life changing experience will be missed,” he said.