Ski All Day, Dance All Night

For Art’s Sake!
Crested Butte’s new center for the arts facility will blow your mind (but not your eardrums). / Photo by Nathan Bilow Photography

Crested Butte has a brand new venue for music—and art, and more—that will be hosting big-name bands all winter long.

What’s the perfect way to top off a full day shredding the steep and deep? How about a night full of dancing to your favorite band? All too often, mountain towns are just too far out of the big-city tour circuit to draw big names. But this winter, Crested Butte is raising the après-band bar.

The laid-back hamlet, known for its extreme comp terrain and quirky locals (seasoned with a healthy dose of salt), has put its creative might behind its new Center for the Arts facility, a reboot for an organization that has been bringing live music and a host of other artistic opportunities to the wilderness-fringed valley for more than 35 years.

This December marks the debut of the Center for the Arts spanky-new, intimate concert facility as well as a completely reimagined arts-oriented building. And live music will crank up as the lifts start turning. Bands are throwing in cards to be the first in the state-of-the-art venue, and the line-up is looking impressive, with Matisyahu and Leftover Salmon already on the bill. As you make your skiing plans, check out the Center’s concert schedule, and extend that day of perfect turn euphoria into an ecstatic night of live music.


Audiophiles take note. This new theater is not only wired for sound—its architecturally built for it. While the straight up-and-down 90-degree walls found in most theaters bounce sound around, making it cacophonous and uncomfortable, the Center’s walls are built for good listening. Textured bricks canted at 3 degrees, stepped woodwork balconies and curved ceiling panels capture and clearly reflect sound back to the listener, while dampening acoustical banners drop down for high voltage rock so you can turn up the volume, but not have your ears bleed.

The theater itself is isolated from the rest of the arts facility with 16-inch, fully insulated walls so that not a peep is heard from adjoining bar or classroom spaces. Anything with a low harmonic hum—motors, heating ducts, pipes—are additionally isolated so offending vibrations won’t translate into the theater. Outside racket doesn’t stand a chance, with solid 10-inch concrete walls separating you from the howling snowstorm on the other side. Wanna hear the subtle squeak of fingers moving over acoustic guitar strings? This is the place.

The superior quality surround sound system boasts the same detailed technicality as the architectural foundations, with speakers throughout delivering full sound from every nook. Upper and lower mixing stations allow custom adjustments for both levels of the theater so that every seat receives a pristine experience.

“Theatre equipment specialists on the project tell us they have designed this kind of complexity in stadiums of 3,000 people,” says project manager Crockett Farnell of Black Dragon Development, “but rarely have they encountered this level of sophistication in a theater this size.”

The Visuals Are Just as Good

Are you just as captivated by the light show as you are by the musical notes? The theater meets the needs of even the most demanding shows. “Addressable” lights mean that each individual unit can be programmed for every color in the rainbow and can spotlight anyone from the stationary drummer to the roving lead guitarist. Twenty-five different line sets allow for a myriad of backdrops and blow-your-mind special effects. Love the circus? Aerial artists can swing through from the six rigging points. The theater is beautiful, featuring mesquite wood on the floor and Douglas fir in the balconies, with fine-tuned illuminations highlighting the columns and other architectural elements.

The Center theater is intimate, with less than 400 available tickets in any of its interchangeable configurations, allowing you to get up close and personal to each act, no matter your location. Got opera or dance performance tickets? Luxurious custom seats arc arena-style before a sunken orchestra pit. In for some comedy or fusion jazz? Cabaret table seating sets the mood with tiered-level options. For high energy shows, the sprung floor flattens for a no-holds-barred open dance space. The coveted upper balcony of 40 seats allows sitting or standing with an overlook of all the action. A full bar on each level, combined with a simulcasting screen, means your drinks will come in hot (while being cold) and you won’t miss a beat. During set break, you can check out the professional art gallery next door.

And by God it’s green

LEED certified, the entire building is hyper-energy-efficient with almost exclusive use of LED fixtures and bulbs; massive amounts of insulation; and low- to no-VOC materials used for finishes. Cool, dry mountain air circulates throughout the building, eliminating the need for air conditioning. Even during construction, project managers went beyond LEED standards typical in commercial buildings with 90% of all cardboard and plastic recycled and tons of materials repurposed into the community.

So when you’re grabbing your quiver of skis and heading to the high country, throw your best boogie shoes into the pack. You’re gonna want to be one of the first to shake’ your thang on the shiny new dance floor of the Center for the Arts.

Mark Your Calendar

Shows are constantly being booked, but here’s a sneak peek of what’s confirmed to hit the stage so far this winter. Check the Center’s website ( often for updates and changes on new live music as ticket prices are set and purchase dates released.

December 6 Matisyahu

December 27 & 28 Leftover Salmon January 2 BoomBox

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