The Dairy Center for the Arts provides the Boulder community diverse opportunities to create, learn and participate in high quality performing and visual arts experiences.
EARLY YEARS: 1987 to 20001987-1990: A group of artists led by Russ Wiltse clean out and use the abandoned Watts-Hardy Dairy plant for events and some programming.
May 1990: Organizers announce plans to convert the dairy plant into the Flatirons Center for the Arts.
November 1991: Developer Amory Host, president of Peak Properties, Inc, submits plans for an 83-unit apartment complex on the south half of the site. Sinton Dairies agrees to donate the other half to the arts center.
January 1992: The center obtains the land for free, but needs to raise $750,000 for the building. Boulder City Council agrees to enter into a 90-day option to buy the building.
February 1993: The City contributes $150,000 from sales tax proceeds earmarked for the arts to be match-funded. Dairy has 18 months to raise the additional $450,000 needed to purchase the building.
April 1993: Center pays $300,000 toward the cost of the building. City provides bridge loan of $450,000 for the rest and up to $100,000 for safety improvements.
December 1994: Name changes to The Dairy Center for the Arts. The Dairy announces raising $400,000 in cash, plus an additional $400,000 in pledges and in-kind donations.
March 1995: City transfers ownership of the building to The Dairy. The Dairy intends to raise $3.5 million to enlarge and remodel the building.
MIDDLE YEARS: 1998-2004
1998-1999: Renovation begins, and includes construction of the Performance Space, Dairy Lobby, McMahon Gallery and improvements to the Carsen and East Theatres. Funding comes through matching grants from Boettcher and Gates Foundations, and Board loans (approximately $1.5-$2 million, combined). Large cost overruns leave the organization cash constrained.September 2000: City of Boulder acquires the property in lieu of debt forgiveness ($450,000 of original funding). City leases the space at $1/year with The Dairy assuming responsibility for completion of renovation and on-going maintenance and repairs in excess of $2,500.
2000-2004: Construction of Phase I is completed. BAA, including Boulder Ballet, and Boulder Philharmonic are among resident organizations at The Dairy.
Fall 2004: Board votes to create a community box office to support ticketing of events at The Dairy and other community venues.
RECENT HISTORY: 2005-Present
January 2006: Discussions are initiated with the City to modify the lease. Options include extending the lease term or allowing The Dairy to buy back the facility so that long-term capital can be raised. This could allow the facility to be expanded and renovated. The City requests a strategic and business plan and “vision” for The Dairy. The City manager states that The Dairy is THE arts center for Boulder.
January – May 2007: Market research, task forces engage in strategic planning effort and assessment of current operations.
Summer 2007: Boulder Arts Academy dissolves. Travis LaBerge Music absorbs over 600 students under Parlando School for the Arts.
September – December 2007: Four new resident organizations are selected, providing increased theater offerings.
December 2007 – March 2008: Boulder Ballet invests in new large dance studio and consolidates its operations at The Dairy, bringing 300 more students per week into the facility. As anchor tenants, Boulder Ballet and Parlando bring in combined annual student enrollment of approximately 1,000. More than a dozen resident organizations are located in the facility.
April 2008-2011: Info about boe