Friends of Chief engage firm for feasibility study
February 24, 2012
Steamboat Springs — Friends of the Chief has taken a step toward refurbishing Steamboat's historic downtown entertainment venue this month by retaining high-profile arts and entertainment facilities consulting firm AMS Planning & Research to conduct a feasibility study.
Friends of the Chief spokesman Jim Cook said Friday that Robert Bailey, a consulting principal with AMS, will travel here from Petaluma, Calif., to spend March 1 to 5 interviewing people connected with local arts and cultural nonprofits, as well as a broader representation of community organizations.
Cook said he expects Bailey to complete the feasibility study no later than April 1. It then would become the basis of a business plan showing how the Chief Plaza Theater could become successful. Friends of the Chief will pay a $19,000 fee plus travel expenses for the study, Cook said.
Friends of the Chief learned in late January that its application for a $4 million U.S. Department of Agriculture loan had cleared one hurdle with the tacit approval of its preliminary loan application and request. A final application will be submitted with the feasibility study and is critical to final loan approval in May, Cook said.
Should the loan be approved, Friends of the Chief would press on with fundraising efforts to secure the balance of the estimated $7 million need to restore the 1920s-era theater. It is configured as a small cinema multiplex operated by Carmike Cinemas and would be remodeled into a single-stage theater with room to accommodate 750 people in a standing-room-only event.
Carmike has a multiyear lease on the cinema, and Cook previously has said that lease is important because it generates revenue while Friends of the Chief plans the renovation.
The relationship with AMS came about through a longstanding friendship between the firm's founding principal Steve Wolf and Steamboat Ski and Resort Corp. President Chris Diamond, Cook said.
The company has offices in Petaluma and Fairfield, Conn. Company literature reports that the firm works with hundreds of arts and entertainment organizations annually in forms of planning, including audience and market research.
The company worked with Salt Lake City and Salt Lake County in Utah to develop a sales-tax-based fund to support the marketing, branding, development and improvement of arts and cultural activities in the city's cultural core.
Bailey's professional bio indicates he has extensive experience in historic preservation and adaptive reuse of buildings for the arts. He co-authored a book about recycling public buildings into arts venues on behalf of the Canadian government.
Bailey has worked on such diverse projects as a 15-theater, $2.6 billion arts complex in China and the Museum of Neon Art in Los Angeles.
In Pendleton, Ore., he has consulted on the future of the Rivoli Theatre in the city's national historic district.
Cook said Steamboat resident Stephanie Reineke, who previously was the technical director at the University of Denver's theater program, is active with Friends of the Chief and will meet with Bailey. Local concert promoter John Waldman is expected to work closely with him, as well. It's clear, Cook said, that the fiscal success of the Chief as a performing arts venue would depend heavily on professional touring acts.
Nonprofits that are expected to meet with Bailey include Steamboat Dance Theatre, Emerald City Opera, Steamboat Community Players and Steamboat Symphony Orchestra.
Bailey also has asked to meet with representatives of local government organizations, educational institutions and religious groups, Cook said.
To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or email tross@SteamboatToday.com