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Wednesday, November 25,2009

Boulder County's art scene gets a few facelifts

By Marissa Hermanson

The Foothills are alive with the sound of music — painting and cinema to boot. There is a renaissance in Boulder County, where the cinema, and the performing and visual arts are thriving. But how do we house all these artists in our ever-expanding art scene? Boulder’s Dairy Center, the Longmont Performing Arts Center and Louisville’s downtown have plans to expand their artistic quarters up through the summer of 2011, giving artists the space they need to flourish in Boulder’s already vibrant, synergistic art scene.

The Dairy Center seems like it has everything: three theaters, three art galleries, dance studios and a large music school. But there was something missing, something the Dairy wasn’t offering Boulder residents: a way to satiate their cinematic palate.

Recently Crocs founder George B. Boedecker Jr. donated a very large — and undisclosed — sum of money to create a theater to show independent cinema in a block of unused space within the Dairy.

The Dairy already has two black-box theaters — a 100-seat and 80-seat theater — used for live theater performances, and they’re booked all winter long with half a dozen theater group performances, one after another. Resident organizations like Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, CenterStage Theatre Company and Upstart Crow Theatre Company have booked performances that will each last around six weeks long. Woof! Theatre Productions will also perform throughout the winter. This leaves no time for film showings. The new art-house theater, which will be called the Boedecker Theatre, will be almost exclusively a cinema for independent films.

The art-house theater will be built in the northeast corner of the Dairy, next to the existing box office. The 2,000-square-foot space is currently unused and at one time housed the Boulder Community Access television station. This area will be demolished and reconstructed to suit the needs of the roughly 130-seat cinema with high-definition digital projection. The theater will also have a film booth in the back, but won’t invest in a celluloid film projector.  Instead, filmmakers can bring in 35 mm film projectors to show their films. The size of the screen is yet to be determined, according to Richard Harris, the Dairy Center’s executive director.

Harris estimates that construction will begin in February or March. It will take three to four months for the city to do the site review, examining architectural plans for the theater. The Dairy submitted their application for a site review on Nov. 16, and from there, the city moves at its own pace, leaving a wavering date for construction to begin. Once the Dairy gets the city’s approval, Harris estimates that the theater’s construction will take between three to five months.  And the grand opening? Harris anticipates “within a year and hopefully much less than a year.”

Boulder is a rich area for film. The International Film Series, Boulder’s first art-house series, has the longest independent film track record in the area, starting screenings in 1941. IFS brings more than a hundred international and independent films to Boulder every year, showing them on the University of Colorado’s campus.

“It can only help to have another place showing quality foreign and independent films in the community,” says IFS Director Pablo Kjolseth.

Although the IFS provides cinephiles with an ample selection of independent films, the series uses auditoriums on the University of Colorado at Boulder’s campus. Boulder lacks a dedicated theater for independent films. The last venue that consistently showed art-house films in Boulder was Landmark Theaters, which closed in 2007. Since then, there hasn’t been a permanent venue for independent moviegoers, although there are plenty of independent movie festivals and showings.

“There is a lot of film in Boulder, don’t get me wrong,” Harris says, “but there is not a steady venue for independent film.”

The IFS doesn’t show films during holiday breaks and the summer because it’s student-run, while the Dairy will have a film presence 365 days a year.

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