Monday, June 17, 2019
Plan on Stuffing New Arts Center into Your Thanksgiving Menu
Tuesday, February 27, 2018


There’s a surefire remedy for those who have been complaining about the cold this past week: Go stand in the hole where the nexStage Theatre used to be.

What is shaping up to be the basement of the new Argyros Performing Arts Center is filled with portable construction site gas heaters.

“The warmest place on the site is down in that hole,” said Tim Mott, who has been leading the charge on the center. “The workers like being down there. Of course, workers in Southern Idaho are used to working through winter.”

Cold, not snow, actually presents the biggest challenge to winter construction since frozen dirt has to be heated up before workers can backfill. But this season has been kind to the Argyros project with unseasonably warm temperatures throughout the majority of the winter and scant snowfall.

The project, which broke ground in July 2017, remains on target for its 2018 Thanksgiving weekend opener.

“I’m going to put a stake in the ground. We will open Friday, Nov. 23—the Friday after Thanksgiving—no matter what,” said Mott, who contributed $2 million of his own money to the project.

Mott held an update on the state-of-the-art center this past week at the Limelight Hotel, which sits across the street from the construction site. Attendees noshed on pizza and hummus and sipped wine and beer before sliding into their seats to view a slide presentation moderated by Mott.

Fundraising for the 25,000-square-foot performance and event venue is three-fourths complete, with $11 million of the $14.5 million project budget committed. The building itself costs $10.5 million and the equipment another $3.5 million.

Mott took attendees through a tour of the new building via conceptual pictures.

The theater may be configured in many ways, including a traditional 300-seat set-up and a 450-seat performance set-up. The seats will be fully retractable with one row sliding into the next so the whole thing telescopes. This will allow the theater space to be used for banquets and cabarets, as well as performances.

Windows looking onto theater space will be covered by two sets of motorized blinds to provide black outs when desired.

The lobby of the theater features a full glass front that looks out past a plaza that sets the building back from Main Street. The lobby includes a lobby, café, box office, coat room and restroom.

On the Leadville side of the first floor is a green room, dressing room, loading dock and room for piano storage.

Above the lobby on the second floor will be another lobby, a studio theater, restroom and control booth. There will be large dressing rooms, as well as a conference room.

A bridge to the second story balcony will offer views looking west and north that will be spectacular, promised Mott.

The third floor will feature staff offices.

“We want to operate with a lean staff and we will accomplish that by not having room for many people,” said Mott. “We won’t have resident theater companies. This is strictly a venue for things like touring artists.”

The basement will feature storage, an electrical room, a finishing kitchen for banquets and a restroom. There will be a couple elevators in the building, making it compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The building has been named after its founding benefactors Julia and George Argyros. The theater studio is named for John Bailey and Grace Harvey and the lobby café, for Phyllis and Dennis Washington.

There are still naming opportunities for donors, in particular the primary theater, second-floor lobby and the state-of-the-art Meyer Constellation acoustic system that can provide acoustics suitable for theater, cinema and other types of performances with the press of a button.

Stars on a donor appreciation wall will note other donors.

Mott said leaders are just starting to plan the opening events.

“We’ve been talking about open house parties for the community with multiple performances on Saturday and Sunday of Thanksgiving Weekend, but that’s just a concept now,” he said.

Another gala opening is being planned for Dec. 27 for the holiday crowd.

Christine Davis Jeffers, executive director of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts, called the theater “an incredible space for the community.”

“It eliminates the need for us to build a theater when we look at our building,” she said referring to a new center The Center hopes to build some day.

“I like the adaptability of the new theater,” said John Bailey. “It can seat 50 or 450. You can have a three-sided theater or one in the round. You will even be able to have actors appear out of the dark.”


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