Work on Steamboat theater progresses for Friends of the Chief |

Work on Steamboat theater progresses for Friends of the Chief

Michael Schrantz

Work is done on a temporary fix to some stucco that fell from the Chief Theater's marquee. Friends of the Chief, the nonprofit that bought the theater, plans to open a temporary theater while fundraising continues for a modern performing arts venue.

— Before the snow started falling Wednesday, a little work was being done on the Chief Plaza Theater's facade in downtown Steamboat Springs. As wood was used to replace some stucco that fell from the marquee, plans were progressing behind the scenes for a temporary theater in the interim while fundraising to build a modern performing arts venue continues.

One of the first things the Chief needs is someone to run it. Friends of the Chief, the nonprofit that bought the building, has placed ads in mountain newspapers, including the Steamboat Today, looking for a facilities and programming manager. Valerie Stafford, a spokesperson for Friends of the Chief, said the nonprofit's board wants a full-time, central person to handle operations once the building reopens.

Steamboat residents Stephanie Reineke, Kelly Anzalone and Lori Bourgeois previously had submitted a proposal to manage the theater as a group.

Reineke said that once the purchase of the theater closed, they submitted a proposal similar to one they had discussed with the nonprofit’s members almost two years ago, well before the Chief was in the group's hands.

"Between the three of us, it (would) be more than a full-time job," Reineke said. "It's too much for one person. Theater is a real collaborative art, and we're used to that."

Stafford said the proposal is too expensive for the nonprofit at this time.

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"One person we can afford," Stafford said. "It'll be rough at first. It's just the beginning."

The group has relied heavily on volunteers up until this point, Stafford said, and the group still is expanding its circle. Those who've signed up to help in the past are being contacted. Committees that were formed previously are seeing new action. And volunteers and board members still are being recruited. Contact information and opportunities are available at

"Instead of reaching the top, they realized they had only reached a small plateau," Reineke said about the nonprofit buying the building but needing to run it in the near term. She said there might have been some "sticker shock" to her group's proposal.

Reineke said her group walked away feeling good about the situation and still will work with the nonprofit in the future. In fact, Reineke said the group is forming its own entity with plans to produce events in the future, maybe at the Chief.

"No hard feelings," Reineke said. "The pieces didn't fall into place.

“I'm still excited about the project," she said.

Inside the theater, paint donated from Sherwin-Williams and carpet from The Carpet Shoppe are being applied.

"We're going to work really hard to spruce it up," Stafford said.

The group has worked for so long planning its dream theater, Stafford said, but now the interim setup needs to be addressed.

A permit is working its way through the city process to tear down the wall between the two main theaters. Sound and lighting equipment need to be leased.

Sweetwater Grill donated candy for the Chief to open its doors to trick-or-treaters on Halloween, and kids wandering downtown will get a chance to see the inside of the work in progress.

To reach Michael Schrantz, call 970-871-4206 or email

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