The $70 million Ent Center for the Arts at UCCS will open in January 2018. It is projected to have a significant impact on the local arts community — but it will also have an economic impact.

Is it possible to quantify the center’s economic impact in the usual terms — i.e., jobs created directly and indirectly, projected number of visitors from out of state, and estimated annual rate of growth?

“You can do that,” said UCCS Economic Forum Director Tatiana Bailey. “You can calculate direct impacts — how many people will work there, how many people worked during its construction and whether the construction company is locally owned. You can also consider indirect effects — for example the impact on the caterers who might service events. You can measure induced effects as well, but that’s all intangible.”

Those effects could include faster student growth at UCCS, and associated economic impacts such as more campus construction and more faculty hires, but it might be difficult to isolate such impacts.

“You’d have to survey incoming students, and ask them why they came to UCCS,” Bailey said, “and you might also find that Ent would have an impact on faculty [recruitment].”

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The 92,000-square-foot Ent Center for the Arts, built on the western edge of the UCCS campus at a cost of $70 million, was designed to be LEED Gold certified, meaning it is environmentally friendly.
The 92,000-square-foot Ent Center for the Arts, built on the western edge of the UCCS campus at a cost of $70 million, was designed to be LEED Gold certified, meaning it is environmentally friendly.

Andy Vick, who directs the Cultural Office of the Pikes Peak Region, said Ent will have a real impact on regional economic and cultural activity.

“It will create a new cultural hub for northern Colorado Springs,” he said. “That could be catalytic, bringing audiences that might not be comfortable going downtown for performances.”

COPPeR notes on its website that the nonprofit arts and culture sector is a significant industry in the region — one that generates $153.3 million in annual economic activity. Spending — $51.2 million by nonprofit arts and cultural organizations and an additional $102.1 million in event-related spending by audiences — supports 5,070 full-time equivalent jobs, generates $100.8 million in household income and delivers $15.9 million in local and state government revenue.

The Center

UCCS describes the Ent Center as a “transformational five-venue center; an innovative collaboration involving the university, six community arts partners and three local school districts.”

Like the 1936 Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, the 1982 Pikes Peak Center for the Performing Arts and the 2009 Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center at Colorado College, the Ent Center is conceptually and architecturally ambitious.

The Ent Center is situated on a spacious tract of rising ground on the western edge of the UCCS campus. The building is oriented to the west with uninterrupted views of the city, the foothills and Pikes Peak. Ent’s silvery curved façade contrasts with the craggy surfaces of Pulpit Rock to the north.

Funded by $27 million from the state, $10 million from the Colorado University Office of the President, a 15-year naming agreement with Ent Credit Union valued at $12.6 million and private contributions from foundations, businesses and individuals, the Ent Center’s $70 million construction budget is more than twice that of the $33.4 million Gaylord Center.

The building includes five separate venues, as well as offices, classroom spaces, dressing rooms, rehearsal spaces and loading docks. Outside, a lawn gives way to terraced gardens and dedicated outdoor sculpture spaces that will complement the building.

An abstract steel sculpture by Colorado artist Linda Fleming has already been installed southwest of the center, and five artworks by three different artists will soon join it.