Print Friendly, PDF & Email

The Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation and the Lake County Tourism Panel announced on Nov. 3 that they will join eight partners in the Colorado mountains to create the first-ever Colorado Historic Opera Houses Circuit in 2022. This joint promotion of five rural opera houses and the cities in which they sit is made possible by a $40,000 grant from the Colorado Tourism Office (CTO).

The CTO formally awarded a 2022 Marketing Matching Grant on Nov. 1, 2021, to build this new cultural heritage travel offering. The project will share the performances, programs, history, and stories of these opera houses, which were built between 1878 and 1913 and retain their original character.

The Circuit will feature a map, website, and other promotions to attract visitors interested in history, arts and culture, live entertainment, and private event rentals. It will include practical information on how to visit the opera houses and will promote the destinations and related travel attractions in the rural cities where the opera houses sit.

Built in 1879, the Tabor Opera House is undergoing a $15 million rehabilitation and is part of the Colorado Historic Opera Houses Circuit in 2022. Photo courtesy Craig Hensel

The following organizations are Circuit partners:

  • Aspen Chamber Resort Association
  • Central City Opera
  • City of Central City
  • City of Ouray
  • Gilpin Historical Society
  • Lake County Tourism Panel
  • Sheridan Opera House
  • Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation
  • The Wright Opera House
  • Wheeler Opera House

All participating organizations are equal partners; the Lake County Tourism Panel submitted the grant application and is the formal project lead. Donna Childress of Childress Communications LLC in Leadville, who contracts to the Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation and the Lake County Tourism Panel, will manage the project along with Tourism Panel contractor Dave Santucci of Mission2Market, based in Denver.

“We are excited for this first-of-its-kind collaboration, which will help the opera houses and destinations recover from substantial pandemic impacts and will connect visitors with the arts and culture they have missed in the past two years,” said the Tabor Opera House Preservation Foundation President Jenny Buddenborg, .

“Leadville and Twin Lakes are known for their history, and this project will encourage people who appreciate our unique cultural heritage to explore the Tabor Opera House as well as our unparalleled museums, tours, and history sites,” said Becky Edwards, who chairs the Lake County Tourism Panel.

About the Colorado Tourism Office Marketing Matching Grant

The grant program awards funding to eligible applicants for projects that promote the state as a tourism destination, supporting CTO’s mission to “drive traveler spending through promotion and development of compelling, sustainable travel experiences throughout our four-corner state.” Additionally, these grants may be used for marketing projects that support better destination management such as educating visitors on how to recreate responsibly.

Project work will begin in January 2022 and will spur future economic development and recovery for the tourism industry throughout the year and beyond. The CTO’s Marketing Matching Grant Program awards grants up to $40,000 and applicants must demonstrate a 2:1 match, including an in-kind match of up to 20 percent.


Tabor Opera House photo; please credit Craig Hensel