Grand Junction Symphony board approves of Avalon plan

The Grand Junction Symphony Board unanimously voted last week to endorse the Avalon renovation plan presented last month by design firm Westlake Reed & Leskosky and move forward with tentative plans to make the Avalon the symphony’s new home.

The symphony and Downtown Development Authority split a $75,000 bill for Westlake Reed & Leskosky to create a business and renovation plan for the Avalon Theatre, which is owned by the city of Grand Junction.

The firm presented a $13 million, three-phase renovation plan a month ago in Grand Junction designed to make the Avalon a more suitable spot for the symphony and other groups to perform.

At the plan’s unveiling June 29, Symphony Executive Director Michael Schwerin said he would like to move the symphony from the high school to the Avalon if possible, but he needed about four weeks to decide whether the symphony approved of the results.

The symphony board adopted a resolution supporting the plan right before the end of that timeline.

“We’re fairly excited about the opportunity and what this could mean for the arts,” Schwerin said. “It’s much bigger than the symphony; it’s for the arts community in general.”

Schwerin said a presentation the DDA planned to give Monday to the Grand Junction City Council was delayed until the DDA and the symphony can hammer out more detail on what a capital campaign to raise money for the Avalon project will look like.

After speaking with community members involved in the arts, Schwerin said he believes a campaign for the three-phase project “is extremely doable.” Schwerin said he expects a steering committee will direct the campaign.

A move to the Avalon Theatre would mean the end of a longtime relationship between the symphony and Grand Junction High School. It also would mean $3,500 a year less for School District 51, the annual price the symphony pays for rent, but it would free up the auditorium schedule for greater flexibility planning school events.

The symphony spends about 15 to 20 hours a month rehearsing and performing in the auditorium, according to the district.

The group paid for improvements to the school’s auditorium, such as new seats and a stage extension, and partnered with the district to pay for sound and lighting improvements.

“It’s been a good relationship,” District 51 spokesman Jeff Kirtland said. “It’s brought value, I think, to the symphony to have a facility that meets their needs up to this point. They’ve put money into the auditorium, which has brought some value to the facility as well.”

There’s no formal agreement between the symphony and the high school, which means there’s no set time the symphony has to remain at the high school.


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