After 45 years, Aurora is still talking about a performing arts center | David Heitz

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By David Heitz/NewsBreak Denver

(Denver, Colorado) Aurora has been asking for 45 years: Does the city need another place to entertain?

The year 1977 brought a resounding “yes” from a vocal segment of the community. But voters said no in 1979 to raising taxes for the construction of a 100,000 square foot, 500 seat theater.

Future polling questions have brought forth proposals of all shapes and sizes. In 1996, the Citizens Cultural Complex Initiative proposed a 400,000 square foot facility for the performing/visual arts center, history museum, and central library for $69.2 million. In 2002, the initiative reduced the proposal to $23.4 million in construction costs for a 500-600 seat theater, $10.7 million for a museum, and $7.9 million for a new library central. But this electoral measure also failed.

City classes require performance space

According to Aurora officials, the breadth of art and entertainment classes the city offers alone justifies the need for a new venue. Few places in Aurora offer space to rehearse or perform.

Conceptualizing a new entertainment venue for Aurora will take several steps. The alignment phase will cost about $24,000, according to city officials who presented ideas to council Monday during a study session. City Council and community stakeholders will determine the type of site to be constructed. Studies will examine how comparable facilities are run and identify potential audiences.

Once this decision is made, the council will begin a feasibility study to determine if the project is economically realistic. The study will identify funding sources, develop a site analysis and business plan, and engage the community. The feasibility study is expected to cost between $55,000 and $125,000.

Pro Tem Mayor Francoise Bergan said she doesn’t want taxpayers to be responsible for running an entertainment venue. She said city officials need to seek partners in the private sector. Council member Angela Lawson agreed.

Other council members said the city is severely lacking in entertainment venues, so they support the studies.