Saturday, November 28, 2009

Denver's Su Teatro finds a good home

An article in Wednesday's Denver Post, "With help from city, Su Teatro buying Denver Civic Theatre" provided great news to area Chicanos, artists, performers and community members who've supported Denver's historic Teatro with time, labor and money over the years.

For those unfamiliar with the area and its history, the theater's location at 721 Santa Fe is in the heart of the old Denver Westside neighborhood, a largely Chicano community that was cut in half by the construction of the Auraria Higher Education Complex encompassing CU and two state colleges. The neighborhood withstood the assault, though more continue in new forms, with the attempted closure of the branch library down the street and the privatization of the neighborhood rec center.

In terms of the arts, the site is also close to CHAC (Chicano Humanities & Arts Council) across the street, a block from the Museo de las Americas and in the midst of the city's principal art gallery district.

While securing this site doesn't guarantee the Chicano theater's future, as noted in the Denver Post article, it brought some to tears, since Su Teatro's former sites have had nowhere near the same visibility or strategic location.

As a longtime though admittedly sporadic supporter of Su Teatro, I too was glad to see this accomplished. Despite great performers, performances and events at their Elyria location, it always felt like the Chicano arts were still confined to an out-of-the-way barrio there under the I-70 overpass, close to the old stockyards.

When the next location was announced at 215 S. Santa Fe and we were told Su Teatro had made it "back to the Westside," I couldn't help feeling a little unexcited by a site ten blocks south of where all the cultural action was going on, especially when the coal trains periodically passed by and rattled us all into silence.

And since Colorado's state government support (sic) of the arts amounts to only something like 25¢ per capita, it was good that Denver's mayor engineered this deal (at least according to news reports).

Lastly, I'm happy for Su Teatro because of a June, 2006 La Blogaposting that among other things said:
"Wait until this overpriced housing market hits near-bottom. . . Don't bid on this one; wait until they're all falling. . . It might mean you're mailing me a case of Maker's Mark [two years from now--2008] because you didn't go into debt for a quarter of a million dollars." That prediction was off by two years: in fact, residential and commercial prices here may not bottom until 2011.

When local and New York entrepreneurs beat out Su Teatro for the site in 2002, with the
avid assistance and myopic omniscience of then-mayor Wellington Webb, Chicano hearts were far from gladdened.

Luckily, U.S. capitalism has brought us into the depths of an extended depressionary economy and among the results are that Su Teatro didn't have to pay as much as the last reported price for the site: the real estate, property and equipment was bought in March 2004 for $1.465 million. Because of the economy, the price now assumedly is $790,000. Good things don't always come to those who sit and wait; sometimes you need a worldwide economic catastrophe to get you there.

I'm not on the Su Teatro board, I don't know that much about real estate, etc., but I encourage La Bloga readers to help as they can to help secure the theater's final, real, great home at 721 Santa Fe Dr. As Su Teatro's website states: " We have to raise between $60,000-$80,000 in the next 2 months to close on this project and a total of $200,000 in the next 6 months to make this project a complete success."

You can do this by going to the Su Teatro website to donate, and by attending some of their upcoming great performances, like the Westside Oratorio, (which I highly recommend) or La Carpa de los Rasquachis--yes, the masterpiece by Luis Valdez who will no doubt be significantly involved in this regional premiere.

To the last naysayers who won't like the limited parking available at this location, I say, remember--you're not paying New York or even Downtown Denver prices to attend a performance. Besides, those who can benefit most will be old Westside residents who already park by their homes and will walk to enjoy their cultural heritage in their own barrio.


I normally don't include or encourage religious references in my posts, but thought some of you might enjoy De que color es la piel de Dios?, a suramericano oldie-but-goodie that's a big hit way south of the border. It's an easy download and lilty playback.


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