Union Colony Civic Center

Performing arts have been a part of Northern Colorado from its earliest days. Fort Collins’ first theater shared space with the post office and drug store on Linden Street in 1865; Greeley opened its opera house in 1870, almost a decade before Fort Collins or even world-famous Central City; the University of Northern Colorado offered drama classes in its first catalog in 1890.

The Little Theatre of the Rockies opened under the auspices of UNC in 1934 and has trained such luminaries as Nick Nolte and Greg Germann (Fish on “Ally McBeal”). Today local theater venues range from Carousel Dinner Theater’s Quonset hut to Bas Bleu’s reclaimed industrial space in Fort Collins and Loveland’s historic Rialto Theater, brought back to its 1920s glory just a decade ago.

In the 1970s, the city of Fort Collins got into show biz with the renovation of the old Lincoln Junior High into a premier performing arts/multipurpose space, Lincoln Center.

For a decade, Lincoln Center was Northern Colorado’s top space for touring professional shows as well as the home of local productions and events. But the region still lacked a purpose-built stage large enough to accommodate the increasingly complex requirements of Broadway blockbusters.

Enter Greeley’s Union Colony Civic Center. Opened in 1988, UCCC’s auditorium has 500 more seats than the main stage at Lincoln Center, and technical facilities that accommodated the original New York staging of the musical “Cats.” Similar to Lincoln Center, UCCC also offers smaller stages, meeting spaces and an art gallery. Unlike in Fort Collins, UCCC is connected to the city’s recreation center and senior center, making it an important community-gathering place.

“It’s the heart of Greeley,” according to Mark Breimhorst, UCCC manager. “It’s the anchor to downtown, and vitally important to the community identity. It makes Greeley different from any other town in Northern Colorado.”

UCCC was built for $9.25 million, over half of which was raised by the Northern Colorado Foundation. The fund-raising effort kicked off with a $1 million gift from the Monfort family. But since the other half of the construction cost – and UCCC’s annual budget – came from the city of Greeley, voter approval was required.

“It took a couple of tries,” Breimhorst recalled, “but it was a community effort.”

This is reflected in the fact that 40 percent of the center’s use is educational, either by school districts or rentals by UNC; another 40 percent goes to the city and nonprofits, and 10 percent to the Greeley Philharmonic Orchestra. Volunteers log more than 10,000 hours annually to keep the center running, and the private half of the budget comes from donations, sponsorships and grants as well as rentals and ticket sales.

“We work harder in Greeley than in Fort Collins, because we don’t have the same traditional arts audience,´ said Breimhorst, who also spent 25 years at the Lincoln Center.

UCCC’s budget for 2005 was $1,937,835, with no deficits projected through the city’s current budget cycle.

With that level of community support, it’s no wonder UCCC is now one of the jewels of Northern Colorado.

Performing arts have been a part of Northern Colorado from its earliest days. Fort Collins’ first theater shared space with the post office and drug store on Linden Street in 1865; Greeley opened its opera house in 1870, almost a decade before Fort Collins or even world-famous Central City; the University of Northern Colorado offered drama classes in its first catalog in 1890.

The Little Theatre of the Rockies opened under the auspices of UNC in 1934 and has trained such luminaries as Nick Nolte and Greg Germann (Fish on “Ally McBeal”). Today local theater venues range from Carousel Dinner Theater’s Quonset hut to Bas Bleu’s reclaimed industrial space in Fort Collins and Loveland’s historic Rialto Theater, brought back to its 1920s glory just a decade ago.

In the 1970s, the city of Fort Collins got into show biz with the renovation of the old Lincoln Junior High into a premier performing arts/multipurpose space, Lincoln Center.

For a decade, Lincoln Center was Northern Colorado’s top space for touring professional shows as well as the home of local productions and events. But the region still lacked a purpose-built stage large enough to accommodate the increasingly complex requirements of Broadway blockbusters.

Enter Greeley’s Union Colony Civic Center. Opened in 1988, UCCC’s auditorium has 500 more seats than the main stage at Lincoln Center, and technical facilities that accommodated the original New York staging of the musical “Cats.” Similar to Lincoln Center, UCCC also offers smaller stages, meeting spaces and an art gallery. Unlike…