If you’ve driven the Pulpit Rock corridor of North Nevada Avenue in recent months, your eye has certainly been drawn to the sleek metallic curves of the new building in the shadow of Pulpit Rock. Officially open as of this January, the 92,000-square-foot Ent Center for the Arts came at a cost of $70 million. But the promise it holds as an artistic hub for UCCS, Colorado Springs and southern Colorado will likely go much deeper than that.
“It’s a game changer; we’ve been talking about it that way for years,” says Daisy McGowan, director of the Galleries of Contemporary Art (GOCA), now housed in the Ent Center. “There’s already great art happening here. This allows us to bring it together and increase that presence. A building manifests into space all these visions and dreams and aspirations. It’s pretty powerful.”
Under the unified UCCS Presents program, the Ent Center will house GOCA, TheatreWorks and a new Artist Series that will showcase world-class touring artists in music, dance, spoken word and more in its four performance venues and museum-quality gallery. The Colorado Springs Philharmonic is moving its Vanguard Series to the Ent Center, though the Pikes Peak Center will remain the organization’s home base. Faculty and students in the UCCS theatre and dance and music departments will study and perform inside. Rental space will be available to community groups, and a public art sculpture garden will be on display outside.
“We hope arts groups look to the Ent Center as a place where their programs can grow and thrive,” says Drew Martorella, executive director of UCCS Presents.
Philharmonic president and CEO Nathan Newbrough says its classical-focused Vanguard performances fit the Ent Center perfectly. While he sees some spatial limits to the new venue, the calculated branching out from the Pikes Peak Center is worth it.
“It lives up to its promise,” he says of the Ent Center. “It’s acoustically correct, perfect for a certain kind of repertoire and ensemble, and provides another resource that didn’t exist. It’s well-positioned to provide ample space for many groups in the community. We’re excited to flex some artistic muscles and make the place sing.”
The Philharmonic, along with Colorado Springs Dance Theatre and Opera Theatre of the Rockies, are co-presenters of the UCCS Presents season. Other organizations that will use the space include Imagination Celebration, Chamber Orchestra of the Springs and the MacLaren Society.
“We can all benefit and build upon each other,” says Joye Cook-Levy, education program director for UCCS Presents who oversees community outreach and development. That means everything from intergenerational programming with students and subscribers to professional development for teachers with community arts groups.
“We’re all kind of scheming and dreaming about what we want to do in the Ent Center,” Cook-Levy says.
Aisha Ahmad-Post, Ent Center director, envisions a future where the space becomes an artistic hub for southern Colorado, where local arts patrons can find the experiences they want here in their own backyard instead of having to go to Denver or Santa Fe.
“[The Ent Center] will allow a type of work and caliber of performance that hasn’t existed in this community for many years,” she says. “It feels like a return to the heritage and tradition of the arts in Colorado Springs. But this is next level stuff.”
Newbrough says he has yet to encounter the ceiling for the new arts anchor: “We are still to discover what the limits of the space will be.”
Opening Season Highlights
The Ent Center’s inaugural season features an impressive lineup of talent. Here are a few highlights. Find more details at uccspresents.org.
Floyd D. Tunson
Janus, the latest exhibit by the locally-based, nationally-renowned visual artist
Feb. 1 – April 15
Keigwin + Company
Acclaimed New York contemporary dance company
Former child prodigy turned superstar violinist
Aspen Santa Fe Ballet
Visionary contemporary classical ballet
Grammy Award-winning jazz master saxophonist