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Steamboat Magazine

Chief Theater Under New Management – Renovation Underway

02/11/2021 09:50AM ● By Rachel Miller

Steamboat Springs, CO – Residents and small business owners Kori McClurg and husband Barry Sherman are collaborating with the community to create a one-of-a-kind, community-centered arts and entertainment experience for Steamboat Springs. As owners of Astute Brands, the operating company is now managing the Chief Theater (Chief), and spearheading a significant renovation for the venue slated to begin in the first quarter of 2021.

Kori and Barry are leading the renovation efforts with a highly skilled Colorado team, including Erik Dyce as the Chief Ambassador. Erik has a 25+ year career laying the groundwork and building the momentum that has helped earn the city of Denver its reputation as a cultural mecca. Known to many as “Mr. Red Rocks,” Erik was the chief marketing officer of the City and County of Denver’s Arts and Venues division, which owns and operates Boettcher Concert Hall, Ellie Caulkins Opera House, Buell Theater, Colorado Convention Center, Bellco Theater and the Denver Coliseum in addition to managing Red Rocks Amphitheatre and large staffs. He is a Certified Facility Executive.

“It’s early in the renovation as we’re in the planning stage, but our vision is solid. We are renovating the Chief so we can more fully support the arts, provide a flexible event and meeting space for Steamboat residents and tourists alike,” says Barry, Astute Brands managing partner, developer, and architect. “Our family has a passion for the arts. Our children are musicians, and I’ve been a big fan of the Chief Theater from the first time I walked through the grand doors.”

Harry Gordon, member of the Miami Native American tribe, opened the Chief in 1927. The original single story-building had a seating capacity of 500 and is a tribute to the town’s cultural legacy. Kori and Barry are looking to honor the building’s history and the Chief’s legacy, while contributing to downtown Steamboat Springs’ cultural and economic vitality. 

“We won’t have as many seats as the original theater; however, we are striving to make it a more experiential venue for both performers and patrons,” says Kori. “We are adding new facilities for performers, such as a green room, a bathroom and a storage area. We’re also exploring innovative, collapsible seating, so the theater has the flexibility to be reconfigured to support a range performances and events.”

For the renovation, Kori and Barry are working with local architect William Rangitsch and project manager Erica Hewitt with Steamboat Architectural Associates, and Colorado firms Semple Brown, who have several team members who are Steamboat residents, and Crazy Good Marketing. They plan to hire local businesses to help with the construction and the end-to-end renovation project, as well as provide ongoing products and services when the Chief reopens. They are also committed to continuing support for local nonprofits, performers, and entertainers. 

As further commitment to the community, Kori and Barry invited area cultural, chamber and business leaders to participate in sharing sessions held this past week to seek feedback on the direction, plan drawings and programming visions. During the session, participants shared, "You’ve thought of things we have been longing for. Huge thanks to Kori and Barry and their role in preserving the Chief as a cultural and iconic building, anchoring our creative district. Thanks for a very well thought out plan. Hard to not be excited and hard to not be inspired by the possibilities.”

“A rising tide floats all boats, and we are passionate about Steamboat Springs,” says Kori. “This is our home, and we are proud to be members of such a wonderful community.”

About the Chief Theater

The Chief Theater (“Chief”) is a cultural community place, where Steamboat Springs arts and entertainment meet the Theater’s-old traditions. Built in 1926, the Chief has changed ownership but has always remained at the center of Steamboat’s cultural community. In renovation, in 2022, the Chief will relaunch as a thriving Community Theater for use by local presenting arts organizations who will use the venue as a performance and theatrical space, meeting space and gathering place for all things cultural!