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Butte Theater severing ties with Cripple Creek means end of programming 

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It is with great sadness that we announce that the City of Cripple Creek City Council has voted to cancel all contracts with The Butte Theater Foundation beginning in 2020. This means that the Foundation will no longer be providing programming in the little historical theater we hold so dear. The Butte Theater Foundation has been grateful over the last few years to provide all the programming at The Butte. With our Board of volunteer community members, with the incredibly passionate and talented team at Mountain Rep Theatre and of Thin Air Theatre Company before them, we’ve worked passionately and diligently to provide a space that shares theater with the community of Cripple Creek.

The Foundation has spent the last few years expanding community engagement by building programming in the winter months, including free film nights, community plays, a community talent show and booking traveling acts. We’ve grown our education programming by offering a number of free tickets for students to come and enjoy theatre for free during our professional season. We built a training program for local youth to learn more about technical theater, and worked with the CCV Middle/High School drama program to expand learning opportunities. We grew our Professional season of theater to include 7 shows, with over 165 performances and sold over 17,000 tickets a year, bringing in a steady stream of tourists to Cripple Creek.

We spent 2019 working on growing these programs but also laying the foundation for an expansion project that had both us and our patrons excited for the potential to expand programming and partnerships in the community. This expansion would have heightened the experience we offer audiences by creating a bigger lobby space and bar. It would have created a community space for local artists to showcase their work, local businesses to hold events and fundraisers, and have a cabaret stage for local and professional artists to perform. After a year of fundraising, we have raised enough money to purchase the building, are currently under contract for that purchase, and began renovation designs with a construction company in Colorado Springs, with plans to finish first stages of renovation by June of 2020.

The announcement by the City has come as a total shock to us. We were provided no reason for the cancellation of the relationship. We cannot fathom why the City would decide to cancel the partnership when theater has been performing well in the space for almost 20 years. We have served our community well, have attracted tourists from all over the state and country, and are, by all accounts, a financially healthy and successful organization. Since we were given no reason for this cancellation, we can only tell you, our community and our patrons, that we are deeply shocked and saddened by the lack of justification, or opportunity to remedy what the City may have possibly deemed as unbeneficial in our relationship. Since the beginning of 2017, our ticket sales have remained strong and consistent despite major drops in Cripple Creek gaming and tourism, our revenue has increased by 15%, our programming has more than doubled. Additionally, the City requested that we begin moving towards financial sustainability through diversifying funding and grant requests. Over our first two years of grant applications, we were awarded $77,500 in outside grant funding, and increased our sponsorships and donations. Our professional production company, Mountain Rep, has brought in a high level of talent, increased the quality of our productions, has been well received and reviewed, and even received statewide recognition this year for their great work through the Colorado Theatre Guild.

We have an amazing team of board members, employees, and volunteers, as well as the extremely hard working producers, actors and designers from MRT who LOVE this theater and this town. We’ve all been working tirelessly over the last few years to not only continue the tradition of theater in Cripple Creek, but to grow our reach and programming all with the aim of bettering our community and share our art and our passion. Our initial and strong reaction to this news is deep sadness. Sadness that our commitment was underappreciated, sadness that our passion was brushed aside, and sadness that the City could not see the benefit of all of that hard work and love.

We do not know the future of the building known as The Butte Theater. As the Foundation funded and provided all programming, we can only assume that an era of fantastic and successful plays is ending. We are most sad for our patrons, who have years of memories, of love, of laughter, and of community built into the walls of that building. We can only hope that the City is prepared to use the building to continue giving back to our loving and supportive community. And we can only hope that they will find a way to bring theater to this community, even if in a limited way. We think that our community deserves a Butte that is full of plays, musicals, melodramas, and fun.

To you, our patrons, we would like to say Thank You. Thank you for so many years of love and support and laughter. You are the reason we are all here, the reason we stayed, the reason we fought for a bright future, and the reason we were all so dedicated to a vision of successful theater in Cripple Creek.

While we will not be returning in 2020, we still have four shows left in 2019. Four AMAZING shows that will be created and performed with all the love and passion we have left to give. Please come by and give us a nod, give us a laugh, and raise your glass to the hard work of our committed board members, employees, actors, designers, producers, and volunteers who will miss you all dearly and are ready to give you one last, helluva hooray.

Thank you all.

Sincerely,

The Butte Theater Foundation Team

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