Opinion: Jill Harrison–Can Longmont become a regional center for the arts?

Photo by Alexa Mazzarello on Unsplash

The Longmont Performing Arts Initiative is a community group made up of Longmont’s 7 major performing arts organizations.

Centennial State Ballet
Longmont Chorale
Longmont Concert Band
Longmont Symphony Orchestra
Longmont Theatre Company
Longmont Youth Symphony
Longs Peak Chorus

This group is spearheading the effort to build a state-of-the-art performing arts center here in Longmont.

Hundreds of area residents – from young children to senior adults – are members of our performing arts groups and thousands more support our groups and attend our performances.

Our member groups have a rich history of serving Longmont through the performing arts going back decades – in fact, all the way back to the 1930s.

In the early part of the 20th century, Longmont was on the performance circuit for a number of nationally and internationally known performing artists. This is part of our history.

Did you know that Longmont was one of the performance venues for the great 20th century pianist Arthur Rubinstein?

Here are some thought provoking facts:

Research published by The National Endowment for the Arts last year found that the Arts contribute more than $760 billion dollars to the U.S. economy. This amount is more than agriculture, transportation and warehousing combined.

The organization “Americans for the Arts” published research in 2017 showing that on average, on a community level, $31.47 was spent per person, per event, above the cost of admission. Furthermore, 34 % of attendees were not from the county in which the arts event took place. The average “out-of-towner” spent more than twice the amount of their local counterparts.

It’s obvious a vibrant arts community not only keeps residents and their discretionary spending invested in the local economy, it also draws visitors who spend money and help local businesses thrive.

We currently lack sufficient performance venue availability and suitability. This means our community is losing out on potential revenue from local performing arts related activities right now. This does not even take into account the potential revenue we could be benefiting from if we had a cultural and performing arts facility of the caliber that would attract regional and national performers.

With a state-of-the-art performing arts center built to accommodate the needs of “future Longmont” and using the information we’ve gleaned from other communities who have successfully built similar facilities, the increased financial benefit for our community would be in place for the long term. We have the golden opportunity to fulfill an important niche that is currently missing in our community and our region.

As we endeavor to describe Longmont’s “brand” could we do any better than identifying Longmont as THE regional center for the performing arts?

Longmont has a unique opportunity – right now – to move forward with a state-of-the art facility and become the regional center for the arts. We can create a legacy to be proud of today and the future.

Jill Harrison

Longmont, CO 80503

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