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October 14, 2011
Little more than a month after opening its doors, the Lone Tree Arts Center is in nearly overwhelming demand for meeting space, and one nearby restaurant hired extra staff to help accommodate the hungry arts patrons spilling through their doors.
The tremendous response has center director Lisa Rigsby Peterson and her staff feeling happily frazzled.
"We're a little tired, but we're really gratified," Peterson said.
The first public performance debuted at the center Sept. 9. To date, the center has sold 4,000 tickets with another nearly 3,000 sold for upcoming events. The building also offers space for meetings and other gatherings, and the booking calendar for those rooms is filling rapidly.
"I thought we would sort of gradually start booking the spaces," Peterson said. "But we've already got 70 events between now and the end of December booked into the big event hall, the theater itself and the lobby. The biggest challenge for me right now is finding room for the people who want to be at the center. It's a great problem."
Via Baci restaurant, a stone's throw from the art center's back door, has a similar issue. Its lunch business increases by nearly 30 percent when the center hosts meetings. Its weekend crowds also have grown with theater patrons coming in before and after performances.
"I've had to hire an extra host to manage the door on Fridays and Saturdays," manager George Gabor said. "Our wait list has become much longer. Saturday used to be our slowest day, but not any more."
Gabor is pleased, but not surprised. The Lone Tree site for Via Baci was chosen, in part, for its proximity to the arts center.
The Lone Tree Symphony Orchestra, which moved to the center from its former Cornerstone Church home, is giving it a thumbs-up, too. The group gave their debut performance there in September. It was the first time the symphony had sold tickets to a concert, relying in the past on suggested donations. All 500 seats filled with ticket holders, who rewarded the symphony's performance with a standing ovation.
The move represents a turning point for the group, which started in September 2000 with a few community musicians.
"To think it's been 12 years ago since we started this little tiny group," conductor Jacinda Bouton said. "Now here we are performing in this beautiful hall. It's a dream come true. This really is a step up for the orchestra."
Good press also is generating buzz about the facility throughout the metro area. In a review of "Unnecessary Farce," Denver Post theater critic John Moore described the Lone Tree Arts Center as "a new jewel on the metro arts scene … with such superb acoustics as to render stage microphones irrelevant."
Fatigue aside, Peterson can't stop smiling.
"I am just so thrilled," she said. "I think when people first started thinking about the arts center, they thought, 'Oh, it'll be a nice amenity.' I think people are really seeing it is a place to come and to gather as a Lone Tree community, and to be really proud."
Lone Tree residents approved funding for the center during a May 2008 election. Construction on the building near the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Yosemite began in March 2010.
For more information, visit www.lonetreeartscenter.org.