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CMU’s Setting the Stage coalition of support gains traction

In the heart of Grand Junction, something spectacular is taking shape. It's a project that promises to transform the Colorado Mesa University campus as well as the cultural and economic landscape of western Colorado. We're talking about the brand-new theatre building at CMU, and it's not just a construction site; it's the birthplace of a new era in arts and culture. 

The new theatre at CMU is poised to become an iconic landmark. Construction is well underway with the auditorium, fly house and stage area currently taking shape. When completed in the fall of 2024, this architectural marvel will be CMU's tallest building and the fourth tallest building in Grand Junction.

Thanks to the generous support of $39.5 million in state funding and $5.5 million from CMU Capital Funds, the foundation for this incredible facility is already in place. Now, it is up to our vibrant community and arts enthusiasts across the state to raise the final $8 million in donations through the Setting the Stage capital campaign. 

The enthusiasm for this project is spreading, and it's not limited to the CMU campus. To date, 21 groups have already formed a coalition of support, and they're just the beginning. Organizations like Bonsai Design, KAFM Community Radio, Colorado West Performing Arts, Creative Avenues, the Western Slope Concert Series, the Grand Junction Symphony Orchestra, the Daily Sentinel, Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology (CAVE), the Western Colorado Chorale, Hart Music and Enstrom Candies have pledged their support and firmly believe in the theatre’s positive impact.

CMU theatre program alum and Executive Director for The Art Center of Western Colorado Lee Borden is excited about the long-term impact the theatre will have on the local community.

“The Art Center of Western Colorado is committed to providing opportunities for the community to experience the arts in all its forms, and the new theater at CMU will be a great addition to our cultural landscape,” said Borden. “We are grateful to Colorado Mesa University for their commitment to the arts, and we look forward to the opening of the new theatre. It is a project that will benefit our community for years to come.”

Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Candace Carnahan is enthusiastic about the economic opportunities that the new theatre promises for the area.

"The Grand Junction Chamber proudly lends its resounding support to the new theatre at Colorado Mesa University,” Carnahan said. “As the curtain rises, so does our community, enriched by the cultural tapestry woven by high-quality performing arts. This spotlight on creativity doesn't just illuminate the stage; it casts a brilliant glow on our local economy, fostering growth, enchanting tourism, and harmonizing prosperity for our local business community across the Grand Valley.”

The Palisade Chamber of Commerce and Fruita Chamber of Commerce have also both pledged their support, showing a unity of purpose across the Grand Valley.

Highlighting the interplay between performing arts access, education for youth and organizational well-being throughout the region, CMU alum and Executive Director of Creative Avenues and The Theatre Project Joy Potter has endorsed the new theatre. 

“Theatre education and the arts are vital for students because they provide opportunities to develop both independence and collaboration as well as avenues for self-expression and reflection,” said Potter. “For those of us actively working to bring the needed performing arts to youth and adults in our community, we feel CMU’s goal to address this vital need in our community is an amazing endeavor that will benefit persons and organizations throughout the Grand Valley.”

Curtis Englehart, Executive Director of the Grand Junction Economic Partnership (GJEP) believes the new theatre will offer economic viability and resilience.

"The construction of the new [theatre] on the campus of Colorado Mesa University is extremely important to our region. The new state-of-the-art facility will provide a huge need for our rural communities. Investing in the arts is a necessity for the future growth and sustainability of our economic landscape,” said Englehart.

CMU extends a heartfelt invitation to you to join us in making history. We believe that every person who stands with us, every donation received and every voice raised in support of the arts is a testament to the incredible spirit of western Colorado.

As Robin Brown, CEO of the CMU Foundation explained, "This project isn't just about a new theatre; it's about enriching lives, fostering creativity and ensuring that the arts continue to flourish on the Western Slope. It's about elevating our entire region and inspiring generations to come."

To learn more, and to donate to the campaign, visit


Written by Giff Walters