DDA, symphony will give Avalon a tryout as orchestra continues search for new home

The Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra and Downtown Development Authority will develop a plan that will lay out what needs to happen in order for the orchestra to move its performances to the Avalon Theatre.

The orchestra, the DDA and the city agreed earlier this month that the orchestra and DDA would spend up to $75,000 to hire a consultant who will craft an operations, marketing and programming plan for the theater.

The groups are expected to hire the consultant by Dec. 15 and complete the plan by March 31.

As part of the effort, the orchestra and DDA will visit performance venues that are similar in size to the Avalon “so we can have a baseline of what seems to be working in other places,” DDA Executive Director Heidi Hoffman Ham said.

While the plan is being put together, the orchestra will perform up to four concerts in the Avalon during the next 10 months to showcase the theater and give people an idea of what orchestra performances are like there.

The orchestra has performed for most of its 32 years in the 1,500-seat Grand Junction High School auditorium. But it’s been looking for another home for a couple of years, largely because of acoustical limitations at the high school.

Yet, if the orchestra is to relocate to the Avalon, the city-owned theater at Seventh and Main streets will have to erase several of its own shortcomings.

At the top of that list is the stage, which isn’t large enough to accommodate the orchestra’s musicians. Expanding the stage will require knocking out the theater’s back wall. Ham said a price tag for that hasn’t been determined, but it’s expected to be in the millions of dollars.

Other improvements could include acoustical enhancements, a new heating and cooling system and new seats. The orchestra and DDA would likely subsidize any renovation of the theater.

Those are the kinds of issues that will be addressed once the business plan is completed and if it concludes that the symphony moving into the Avalon is indeed feasible.

“I’m not exactly sure what we’re going to find when we get to the end, but it’s a good sign that we’re all willing to go this extra mile and see if what we’re talking about is going to work,” Ham said.


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