Arts center a reality

Facility in Castle Rock captures community’s interest

Posted 1/25/11

In October 2010 a letter went out to the Castle Rock community: “Imagine if…. there was a community center for the performing and visual arts in …

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Arts center a reality

Facility in Castle Rock captures community’s interest


In October 2010 a letter went out to the Castle Rock community: “Imagine if…. there was a community center for the performing and visual arts in the Castle Rock area. Imagine if…. kids, parents, seniors, everyone could be involved, learn and experience cultural activities and events of all kinds right here in town. Imagine if…. you and everyone you know became involved in making this a reality!”

That letter and other materials invited recipients to an open house on Nov. 21 in a proposed space, an empty steakhouse at 960 S. Frontage Road, which was envisioned to hold space for theater (Front Range Players) and Art Gallery (Greater Castle Rock Art Guild) and more.

There are also 14 offices that could be individual studios (three are spoken for already) and space for classes in art, theater, music plus recitals, concerts and other events to be developed. The owner, Ian Steyn had agreed to partner with arts organizations to develop The Castle Rock Community Center for Visual and Performing Arts — if they could generate community interest.

Indeed yes.

Volunteer crews put in more than 100 hours cleaning, repairing, painting to ready the building, formerly Duke’s Steakhouse, for the open house and future multiple uses.

About 800 excited people showed up on Nov. 21 — many more than anticipated (food shortage) — and the project was off and running.

A coalition board is being developed, according to Anne McGhee-Stinson of Front Range Players (formerly Castle Rock Players) and additional board members are sought. Interested? Contact her at

Budgets are being prepared that include profit sharing with the owner.

Classes have started on weekends (watercolor with Pam Hostetler just ran) and Bruce Workman, art guild president said they are working to line up volunteers to keep the space open for additional hours, starting with weekends.

A six-week photography class is in session, a mixed media weekend is planned and Workman said there is talk of life drawing sessions for those who already know how to draw, but will share a model. He hopes to have a website for the center soon to post classes, a wish list of items needed, such as better lighting for the art and upcoming events.

An art show/fundraising event/dance, The Color Red, is planned for 6 to 9 p.m. Feb. 12. The community is invited. Tickets cost $10. Tickets will be available through the Castle Rock Players website,

Chuck Wilson, president of the Douglas County Senior Foundation appeared at the Castle Rock Town Council meeting inviting members to The Color Red, explaining that arts groups had been searching for a permanent home for 15 years. He said the longstanding Coyote Creek Concert Series, sponsored by the Elbert County Arts Association is one of many organizations that indicated interest in this new performance venue.

A Douglas County High School visual arts student will serve on the board, McGhee-Stinson said, adding that summer youth camps are being planned, theater classes will begin in February and rehearsals for “Of Mice and Men” have started, with a March show date. There is room for 200 chairs and a stage.

The art guild has about 135 members at present — down a bit due to the economy, Workman thinks. He works in pastels and hopes to add watercolors to his repertoire. He recalls that Christmas blizzard four years ago when everyone was snowed in. His teen aged daughter had received a gift of pastels, which didn’t interest her, but appealed to her father. He started painting, soon joined GCRAG and is now its president and very involved in the new center.

McGhee-Stinson spoke enthusiastically of a volunteer recruited through the November open house.

Barbara Arko brings years of experience with board development in the arts, starting with the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, where she started the Denver Center Alliance, directors Society, Players support groups. She next worked with Central City Opera as director of development and then with Food Bank of the Rockies. She retired in 2008 and lives in Castle Rock with her husband.

She signed up for GCRAG and received calls from Bruce Workman and Anne McGhee Stinson. She went to see the December production of “Education of Mr. Scrooge” and volunteered to help. “I know what is needed, what leadership is needed,“ and will work behind the scenes, she said.

“We can grow through art, come together. Art creates a cohesion,” McGhee-Stinson said. “It’s a grassroots effort for everyone to nurture.”


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