JAS officials ready to ‘accelerate’ capital campaign to build new center in downtown Aspen | AspenTimes.com

JAS officials ready to ‘accelerate’ capital campaign to build new center in downtown Aspen

A rendering of what a new jazz center will look like on the Cooper Avenue Mall.
Courtesy rendering

With approvals in hand and general support from the community, the $25 million capital campaign for Jazz Aspen Snowmass’ new performing arts center may not be as heavy of a lift as it once felt like for the nonprofit.

The JAS Center above the Red Onion on the Cooper Avenue Mall received unanimous support from the city’s historic commission and City Council in the past month and a half with little fanfare.

“Especially in a town like this, approvals are hard to come by,” said Andrea Beard, senior vice president at JAS, who added that the center will serve as a rehearsal and meeting space for the community. “It will be a huge asset for a lot of organizations.”

When JAS President and CEO Jim Horowitz went before the historic preservation commission in August, there were between 50 and 60 people there to voice their support for the project, he said.

Prior to their votes, the commissioners shared their past experiences with JAS festivals and said how much they appreciated the concerts.

“That meeting was really a revelation,” Horowitz said. “It was a little bit of a love fest.”

What also helped was that the JAS Academy was in session so its artist director, Christian McBride, was in town and able to speak to the educational component of the nonprofit.

The new JAS Center will be home to the academy, in collaboration with the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami.

The center also will serve as a permanent home for the JAS Cafe concert series, which has been held in different venues around town, namely the Aspen Art Museum and the Little Nell Hotel.

It also will be the headquarters of a newly formatted June JAS festival, which debuted this past summer and featured dozens of musicians playing at different venues around town.

“I think for the reformatted June we are totally on track with this,” Horowitz said. “It’s going to be a nice amenity downtown, and I think the public has proven there is an appetite for this.”

That and an expedited approval process with no opposition is what Horowitz and JAS will center its capital campaign on.

“Now we accelerate our campaign,” he said. “We have the strength because of the approvals.”

The first phase of fundraising, $15 million, is for the acquisition of the space. The second phase is $10 million as an endowment to keep the center operational for years to come.

There will be several naming opportunities for donors on the interior walls of the center, as well as for the entire building.

“We are excited because this is a great opportunity for permanence in Aspen to have an institution,” Horowitz said. “There is excitement in our base and we have people behind us rooting for us and we need to go find them.”