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Dance, Art Replace Books At Former Carbondale Library

Sep 30, 2014

The old Gordon Cooper Library in Carbondale is being transformed into a center for arts and dance. The interior is seeing most of the work, though the exterior will be painted and a sculpture garden is planned.
Credit Marci Krivonen

Next week a new creative space will open in an old library in Carbondale. Two non profits are retrofitting the former Gordon Cooper Library and renaming it The Launchpad. They say the center, which will offer art and dancing, adds something that’s missing in Carbondale’s rich arts scene. Aspen Public Radio’s Marci Krivonen reports.

Deborah Colley gingerly steps over construction materials at the old Gordon Cooper Library.

"Our offices will be over here on the closed-off, glassed-in north side of the building," she says.

Her organization, the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities, is moving some of its operations here along with another non profit, Dance Initiative. 

Deborah: "It’s pretty exciting!"

Marci: "So, dancing and artwork?"

Deborah: "Yeah, in one space and we can’t wait to see what will happen. We haven’t really seen what happens when those two art forms intersect in Carbondale."

The building - dubbed a “community space for the arts” - will include two gallery rooms with artwork, staff offices, a gift shop and perhaps the most conspicuous part, two professional grade dance floors.

"So this will be comparable to what the New York City ballet has in their studios, which is pretty awesome," says Colley.

The dance studios will mainly be used by community members who can rent them for things like modern dance classes, dance therapy and yoga. The idea is to provide an affordable space for movement-based artists and musicians to teach, create and rehearse.

Dance Initiative is the force behind the dance floors. The small organization started in 2009 and since then, it’s been looking for a home.

"What we wanted was space for dancers to be able to rehearse and create and that space really wasn’t available," says Peter Gilbert, founder and director of Dance Initiative.

He says his group will bring visiting artists to the new space.

"They may come from New York, Denver or California. We bring the teachers in and periodically have workshops, so this is allowing the dancers and teachers that are here to benefit from outside influences."

The effort to secure space in the old library was no easy feat. It’s a town-owned building, so it was up to Town Council to choose who got the lease. At first the Town Trustees decided to allow artist James Surls to create an art center there. But, he pulled out of the deal.

In June, the board made its decision after weighing four proposals including a “pay it forward” cafe, a youth hostel, headquarters for the chamber of commerce and The Launchpad. Trustee Allyn Harvey was a “yes” vote for the latter.

"This really opens up an opportunity to allow the dance groups that are out there to have a home. I don’t think there’s been a central place for those kinds of arts to focus, so this will provide another leg in our multi-legged stool of arts in Carbondale," he says.

One trustee, Frosty Merriott voted against The Launchpad proposal. The Sopris Sun reports he was upset with the selection process, saying it had “divided the community twice.”

Back at the construction site, Deborah Colley of CCAH continues our tour of the new space.

Crews are completing the flooring and installing lighting in preparation for a grand opening on October 9th. CCAH and Dance Initiative will pay the Town of Carbondale $12,000 a year in rent and their lease lasts for five years.