BY FREDA MIKLINGOVERNMENTAL REPORTER
At its summer partnership meeting at the Lone Tree Arts Center on August 1, Denver South EDP board member Buz Koelbel, president and CEO of local residential real estate development leader Koelbel and Company, told members about the importance of the rich cultural assets in our community. He reminded people that “all our cultural facilities are in a constant process of change,” so it’s well worthwhile to visit places like the Denver Zoo if one hasn’t been there for some time.
Bert Vescolani, president and CEO of the Denver Zoological Foundation, said that the zoo is the most visited cultural institution in metro Denver, drawing two million guests annually. The 80-acre campus, consisting of 105 buildings, costs $100,000 per day to operate. It is ranked in the top five accredited zoos in the U.S. The Denver Zoo contains over 3,300 animals representing 550 species, including more than 50 endangered and threatened species. Said Vescolani, “It is one of only four zoos in the world to hold two of the highest international distinctions for environmental, health and safety management systems.” Also focused on education, the zoo’s programs serve more than 150,000 students from 1,200 schools every year and awarded $185,000 in scholarship funds last year for camps, classes, fieldtrips, and other programs.
The economic impact of the zoo over the next five years is estimated at $636 million to the Science and Cultural Facilities District (SCFD), consisting of the seven-county metropolitan area (Denver, Arapahoe, Douglas, Jefferson, Adams, Boulder, and Broomfield Counties).
Less known by many is the Denver Zoo’s focus on worldwide conservation. It has participated in over 600 conservation projects in 62 different countries. In addition to the Rocky Mountains/Great Plains area in the U.S., the Denver Zoo has identified four other focal areas for conservation around the world: Mongolia, Vietnam, Botswana, and Peru.
Denver Center for Performing Arts
Begun 40 years ago, the Denver Center for Performing Arts (DCPA) is the country’s largest non-profit theatre organization. It brings a wide variety of live theatre events to the metro area, including Broadway productions, smaller theatre productions at four different venues, cabaret shows, and private catered events in the Seawall Ballroom. Also focused on education, the DCPA has served over 1.7 million students through a variety of programs.
Drawing 84 percent of its patrons from the seven-county SCFD, the DCPA’s economic impact for the last fiscal year was $193.4 million from operations including 43 shows with 1,143 performances attended by 850,782 patrons. In addition to receiving nearly $7 million in SCFD funds, the DCPA raised $4.5 million from individuals, corporations, and foundations, and $5.3 million from its capital campaign. Gross revenues for the fiscal year of $90.8 million compared favorably with expenses of $82.6 million.
Janice Sinden, who has been president and CEO in 2016, previously served as Denver Mayor Hancock’s chief of staff for five years. Sinden explained that although Broadway productions account for most of the DCPA’s income and costs, its role for those shows is mostly that of providing space. It uses its resources to keep all its venues in top condition. The 40-year old Stage Theatre located at Speer Boulevard and Arapahoe Street, and the Ricketson Theatre, on the DCPA campus at 1400 Curtis Street, are being fully renovated, including updated seating layouts with improved sight lines and technology and improved accessibility for patrons.
Sinden acknowledged the generosity of philanthropists Marvin and Judi Wolff, for whom the Stage Theatre will be renamed, and also Dean Singleton, former publisher and owner of the Denver Post from 1987 to 2013 and former chairman of the board of directors of the Associated Press from 2007 to 2012. The revamped Ricketson Theatre will honor Singleton.
Sinden told the Denver South EDP audience that the DCPA team is “actively engaged in expanding and deepening mutually beneficial partnerships with our community” through forming a board committee and a team for that purpose. She also talked about the DCPA’s focus on adopting a core value focused on “equity, diversity, and inclusion.”
Attending the Denver South EDP partnership meeting were Arapahoe County Clerk Joan Lopez, Arapahoe County Commissioner Jeff Baker, RTD Board Chair Doug Tisdale, Douglas County Commissioner Lora Thomas, Centennial City Council Members Kathy Turley and Mike Sutherland, along with Mayor Stephanie Piko and former Mayor Cathy Noon, and Joe Rice, Lockheed Martin executive and former Colorado state representative and mayor of Glendale.
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