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Guest opinion: Gary Lloyd The Longmont Arts and Event Center: An idea whose time has come

LPAI is a group of nonprofit organizations, involved with the promotion and support of the performing art
GaryLloydLCB
Gary Lloyd, Longmont Concert Band Conductor and LPAI board member

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The purpose of this article is to give Longmont’s citizens a clear and factual background to the idea of building a Longmont Arts and Event Center.  Contrary to some public opinion expressed recently, this idea was not conceived by or a ‘pet’ project of the Longmont city government.  The idea and conversations about the possibility of a Performing Arts Center began with a group of performing arts enthusiasts known as ‘LPAI’ (Longmont Performing Arts Initiative).

LPAI is a group of nonprofit organizations, involved with the promotion and support of the performing arts, that believe in the need for a strong performing arts presence which provides entertainment and service to the community.  By creating, collaborating, and communicating, LPAI works to bring a unified voice in support of all performing arts in the greater Longmont community.  Each of these organizations (Longmont Symphony, Longmont Chorale, Longs Peak Chorus, Centennial State Ballet, Longmont Youth Symphony, Longmont Concert Band) combine their efforts, meeting frequently to share projects and explore ways to achieve their performance plans, needs, and  requirements.  All of these organizations share a common interest of outreach to all segments of our community and uplifting all the arts.

The LPAI members realized that each of their separate organizations had a serious need for adequate performance venues and rehearsal spaces.  Presently these performance organizations rely on churches and schools to make available rehearsal and performance space. These organizations and their audiences have outgrown these spaces, or are limited to doing performances that fit the space and time available.

The Skyline H.S. Vance Brand Civic Auditorium has the largest audience capacity, but its use is subject to school calendar events, available technical personnel, rehearsal restrictions, and limited performance upgrades or enhancements.  This is a school facility first and not a public use facility, and is therefore justifiably controlled by school district policies and budgets.  The partnership between the City and SVVSD to fund and operate Vance Brand auditorium ended years ago.

Stewart Auditorium at the Longmont Museum, while being a more attractive and intimate venue, is not an adequate space for large performing ensembles and their audiences.  It is suitable for smaller vocal and instrumental chamber ensembles and small acoustic performances, but audience capacity is still limited to just over 200.  The stage and lack of a ‘back stage’ can not accommodate all the musicians, dancers, and equipment required for larger productions.  Churches, while being generous with their facilities, are also limited in performance space requirements and audience capacity.

While our vibrant Longmont performing arts organizations would benefit greatly from a new performance venue, this vision has been expanded to more segments of our community by becoming a center of cultural activity.  It could be a ‘magnet’ of educational and artistic opportunity for both young and adult consumers, including classroom space for enrichment and adult learning, and an actual convention center with meeting rooms that Longmont currently lacks.  The old Raintree Hotel (Best Western) is no longer a viable option, and there are current plans to convert that property to apartment housing. 

The feasibility study (by the Johnson Consulting firm) examined the possibility of building an arts and events center, which would include convention meeting space. The study was funded by LPAI in partnership with several community supporters: Longmont Chamber of Commerce, LDDA, Visit Longmont, and the City of Longmont. The study found that such a complex is appropriate for our community. The center would fill a need for Longmont, boost the economy, and actually become a regional attraction.  

This feasibility study was presented on April 6 to our City Council.  It was viewed by the Council as extremely complete in its analysis, and it is available for public review.  Please see the complete feasibility study at this site:  https://www.longmontcenter.org/feasibility-study-report-and-presentation-april-6-2021

Gary Lloyd

Longmont Concert Band Conductor and LPAI board member