Saturday, December 15, 2018
Argyros Performing Arts Center Heads to the Finish Line
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Workers fine-tuned the decorative sidewalk outside the Argyros Performing Arts Center Sunday afternoon.
 
Tuesday, November 20, 2018
 

STORY AND PHOTO BY KAREN BOSSICK

As others settle into the hustle bustle of getting Thanksgiving dinner on the table, a bevy of construction workers are rushing to finish up the new Argyros Performing Arts Center in time for its gala reception and open house Thanksgiving Weekend.

“We had over a hundred people working in the building on Friday. It’s all going to get done—there’s just a lot to do,” said Tim Mott, who helped instigate the state-of-the-art center.

The $15 million Argyros, pronounced “are-jer-us,” will open its doors to the public Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 24 and 25. The free community celebration will follow an invitational evening concert and reception featuring Sun Valley resident Peter Cetera for lead donors, such as the center’s namesakes George and Julia Argyros, Friday evening.

Saturday’s festivities will get underway at noon with a street party on First Street between Main and Leadville streets. There will be food and wine available for purchase from food trucks provided by KBs, Smoke Over Baldy and Sawtooth Brewery.

The public will be allowed into the theater from noon to 2 p.m. to take self-guided tours. From 2 to 4 p.m. local artists will perform free  5- to 10-minute performances in the main Tierney Theater. There will be performances from Sun Valley Opera, Footlight Dance Theater, Wood River High School’s B-Tones and Colla Voce, the Caritas Chorale, Wood River Orchestra, Sun Valley Ballet and pianists Alan Pennay and Tristan Boloix.

The day will conclude with a free concert from 6 to 8 p.m. inside the theater featuring the Americana-rock music of Old Death Whisper and the Sheep Bridge Jumpers.

On Sunday the center will reopen for an open house from noon to 2 p.m., followed by short performances from 2 to 4 p.m. by  Sawtooth Productions, Laughing Stock Theater, St. Thomas Playhouse, The Spot, Sun Valley Community School Devising Ensemble, Cowboy Poet Bryan Dilworth, Gary Hoffman, stand-up comics Hailee Lenhart-Wees and Katherine Lizarraga and Gerry Moffatt, who is expected to share his TEDxSunValley talk about his work in Nepal.

The weekend is being orchestrated by Casey Mott, a Sun Valley native who has helped orchestrate such events as Kipp Nelson’s 48 Straight ski extravaganza, in addition to producing such films as “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.”

“We thought it fitting to celebrate the community with showcases from the Wood River Valley’s diverse cultural organizations and talented artists,” said Douglas Rankin, executive director of The Argyros. “In addition to bringing national and world-class artistic programming to our area, our mission is to serve as a year-round home for our local arts community.”

The 25,000-square-foot facility will include a 462-seat theater with 210 retractable seats that will enable it to function as a cabaret-style theater or banquet facility. It also will feature a studio, café and outdoor plaza.

“I think it’s going to be great, fantastic. I think it’s going to be such a great addition to the community. I think everything and more we hoped it would be,” said Mott.

“I think people will be thrilled when they hear the sound system. It’s extremely high quality and high fidelity and the reproduction of the range of sound is just astonishing. It has to be heard, it has to be experienced.”

Mott stepped up to champion performing arts in the valley in the valley 18 years ago, pledging more than $1 million from the Mott Family Foundation to purchase the nexStage Theatre when its owner wanted to sell. He worked with theater manager Kathy Wygle and Bill Lowe to lease it to the newly formed Sun Valley Performing Arts organization for a dollar a year to keep it open as a theater.

He was at the forefront of the drive to build the Argyros to provide the community with a performing arts center that would mirror the state-of-the art facilities Sun Valley residents have become accustomed to with the Sun Valley Pavilion at Sun Valley Resort and other facilities.

“The nexStage was perfectly positioned two blocks from the middle of town on Main Street as you come into town. And it found its way into the hearts of the community as a place where performing arts happen,” said Mott. “And we felt that the history and tradition was important to continue, not just from the standpoint of elevating art and culture and community but also found the standpoint of driving cultural services.”

The Sun Valley Performing Arts organization held community design workshops and conducted additional research to design a center that would fit the community.

“It was important that it be the right size for the community,” said Mott. “And we figured out that a theater hosting 120 to 460 people was the right size for a year-round facility that is going to get used every week.”

The center has been on fast track since its groundbreaking was held in July 2017--even before the former nexStage was demolished.

“Early on we were surprised how magnificent the view from the lobby was of Griffin Butte,” said Mott. “And we were so pleased as we saw the state-of-the-art technology taking shape, including the seats, the modular staging, the tensile grid and the sound system. It’s one thing to have dreams and plans but it’s another thing to see the pieces actually fall in place.”

The new center satisfies the objectives of being a forward looking building while fitting into the vernacular of Main Street, Mott said.

“I can’t tell you how many people have come up to me and said that they think it’s a really handsome looking building,” he said. “My favorite description that I’ve heard is that it fits on Main Street like a great piece of furniture.”

The official grand opening featuring a national performer to be announced will be held Dec. 27.

The Girls on the Run Lunafest Film Festival will kick off regular programming on Dec. 5, followed by a free Sawtooth Productions play reading featuring Claudia McCain and New York Director Clove Galilee on Dec. 8. The Wood River Orchestra will perform a holiday concert on Dec. 9 and the Sun Valley Hallelujah Chorus will perform The Promise and “Messiah” Dec. 21 through 23.

Kate Aldrich will perform at a Gala event for the Sun Valley Opera on Dec. 28. And LED will bring its contemporary dance and film performance on behalf of the Sun Valley Center for the Arts on Dec. 29.

The coming year will include the first ever Winter Festival presented by the Sun Valley Summer symphony Feb. 19-24,  in addition to the Banff International Film Festival Feb. 4 and 5. American Ballet Theatre dancer and Sun Valley native Isabella Boylston will perform Feb. 8 through 10.

Others that plan to use the center this coming year include the Sun Valley Film Festival, Sun Valley Wellness Festival, TEDxSunValley and The Mystical Arts of Tibet, which features Tibetan monks sharing their culture.

There is still time to become a Founding Donor and receive a star on the grand staircase wall. Inquiries should be directed to Sally Gillespie at 208-720-9593 or sally@TheArgyros.org.

For additional information, call 208-726-7872 or visit www.TheArgyros.org.

 

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