RiNo Art District, a 501(c)(6) nonprofit arts organization dedicated to fostering a welcoming, creative community where a diversity of artists, residents and businesses thrive, hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony with its partner, Denver Parks & Recreation (DPR), to celebrate the opening of a brand-new community and performing arts venue in Arkins Park.
“This has been an amazing journey over 12 years,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “This is the culmination of a lot of visionary people, a lot of imagining things that didn’t exist, a lot of thinking outside the box about how we could breathe life and energy into an area of Denver that had, quite frankly, been perennially overlooked and underinvested in. This is a powerful example of how we come together to use assets we already have to meet the needs of our community.”
The 4,000-square-foot adaptive reuse project is the result of years of advocacy by RiNo Art District and a series of first-of-their-kind public, nonprofit and private partnerships aimed at addressing community needs.
“This community performance space is the result of countless conversations with our creative community and our neighbors about what they need and want from RiNo’s presence within Arkins Park,” said Charity Von Guinness, executive director for RiNo Art District.“We have an incredible concentration of creatives making experiential art here in Denver, but we lack affordable, beautiful places to share that art with the community. This new space will offer a highly flexible, affordable performance venue for a variety of programming and private events. The resources we’re creating here exemplify our desire to center art and artists in our work, empower Colorado’s creative community, expand access to the arts, and foster a symbiotic relationship between the business and creative community.”
With seating for up to 200 and standing up to 450 (counting both ground-floor and mezzanine), the space will offer maximum flexibility for Denver’s performing arts, nonprofits, and creatives and well as the broader community. Designed by Tres Birds and built by Mark Young Construction, the venue features a beautiful high-barreled wood ceiling, a modular seating stage and doors that open into the Arkins Park greenspace.
The public is invited to get a sneak peek of the new space on Saturday, June 24 when RiNo will host the first Art Market of the summer within Arkins Park. Staff will be on-site to offer tours of the space to the public, and tickets are available now to for “Good Bones,” an immersive theatre production from OddKnock Productions taking place at 4:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. in the space.
“Our mission as always is to help create beautiful and safe public spaces that enhance the well-being of residents and our environment through innovative programs, and the opening of this exciting community space embodies our goal,” said Happy Haynes, executive director of Denver Parks & Recreation. “It’s been exciting to work with RiNo Art District to bring this inclusive, public venue to life so Denverites can further explore the thriving arts scene we have in this community.”
The project was made possible through a unique partnership with DPR in which RiNo was responsible for the fundraising, build-out and management of the buildings within Arkins Park. The first phase of the project, which opened August 2021, houses a new Bob Ragland Branch of Denver Public Library, The Denver Zine Library, eight affordable artist studios managed by RedLine Contemporary Art Center, Alto Gallery, and the new location of Comal Heritage Food Incubator, which is coming to the park through a partnership with Focus Points Family Resource Center.
Funding was provided by major donors including McWhinney, Collegiate Peaks, the Gates Family Foundation, Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, Sonia Danielsen, JE Dunn, the RiNo Business Improvement District and General Improvement District, Boettcher Foundation, and VF Foundation.