Temporary arts center will pave way for permanent building in Willits | AspenTimes.com

Temporary arts center will pave way for permanent building in Willits

Marc Breslin and Ryan Honey of nonprofit The Arts Campus At Willits stand in 'The Temporary,' a performing arts center that will open in Willits in advance of the construction of a permanent structure.
Scott Condon/The Aspen Times |

The organizers of an arts campus at Willits Town Center are eager to open a temporary site in less than a month as the first step in progressing toward a $7.25 million permanent home.

The Arts Campus At Willits, better known as TACAW, is a nonprofit organization raising funds to construct the structure. Meanwhile, it’s opening a 140-seat venue in Willits called “The Temporary.”

The first event will be held Aug. 9. A handful of events are on the books. More are being negotiated. TACAW managing director Ryan Honey and Marc Breslin, vice president of TACAW’s board of directors, said they are booking acts that are heavy on a mix of music, comedy and independent film. There also will be kids’ programming in a series called Kids’ Kulture.

“It will give people a feel for what’s to come in the bigger building,” Breslin said.

About $160,000 is being sunk into The Temporary — everything from drywall to an elaborate projector and sound system. Mariner Real Estate Investment, the owner and developer of much of Willits, contributed $50,000 to the project, Honey said. The landlord also is helping TACAW with cash flow to complete the interior work.

That allowed TACAW to raise funds for the sound system and programming.

TACAW has a two-year lease on the site for The Temporary. It is anticipated an extension will be sought while the permanent structure is under construction.

A lobby and bar will be located at the front of The Temporary off of Market Street, in the same building that houses the Valley View Hospital medical offices. The entrance will be across Market Street from the building that houses Capitol Creek Brewery and Mezzaluna Basalt. The site unfolds into a performance area that faces the Whole Foods’ parking lot.

The location is larger than it appears from outside. It will seat about 140 and accommodate additional people standing.

Honey and Breslin said opening The Temporary prior to progressing with the permanent structure will benefit them in numerous ways.

“We really feel like this is giving us a chance to build our team,” Honey said.

Breslin, who has booked performances for Jazz Aspen Snowmass and Belly Up earlier in his career, said it will serve as a model to learn what type of programming the midvalley wants and responds to.

“A little bit for everybody will work,” he said.

The only disadvantage is the smaller space won’t allow them to book the same performances as will be sought in the permanent location, which will have a main seating hall for 280 people. Larger space allows you to book larger bands, for example, Breslin said.

Nevertheless, they said The Temporary will be a good start for operations and an effective tool to use to educate donors. They plan to host 12 events per month. Weekends will be dedicated to music and comedy. Tuesday and Wednesday will feature cinema and lectures.

“If there’s demand, we’ll ramp it up,” Honey said. “My gut feeling is we’re going to be busier than we think.”

The organizers view August as a soft opening for The Temporary. The booked acts so far feature singer Jessica Allossery, Aug. 6; Le Pompe Jazz, Aug. 11; Playground Theatre, a first performance for the Kids’ Kulture series, Aug. 12; and stand-up comedy headlined by Chris Voth, Aug. 12.

A new website will be launched shortly featuring a ticketing platform. Meanwhile, people who are interested should go to the group’s existing website at http://www.tacaw.org for information about new events and tickets. When they sign up for a newsletter, they will get an email when tickets go on sale.


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