Red Rocks, DPAC, other cultural venues will go dark after city furloughs workers

Denver Arts & Venues will furlough about 70 workers, some part-time but others full-time.

Sylvan Esso plays Red Rocks, July 18, 2018. (Courtesy Kevin J. Beaty)

Sylvan Esso plays Red Rocks, July 18, 2018. (Courtesy Kevin J. Beaty)

(Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite)

staff photo

Denver Arts & Venues will close the places that help keep it afloat as it struggles to make money during the pandemic.

Facing a $50 million shortfall from the iconic Red Rocks Amphitheater alone, Arts & Venues spokesperson Brian Kitts said the agency will be furloughing about 70 employees. Previously scheduled hows at Red Rocks will run through October.

“The COVID-related losses have hit the agency pretty hard,” Kitts said.

The Denver Performing Arts Complex and McNichols Civic Center Building will be closing as well. Kitts said some exhibits at McNichols are available by appointment, while the performing arts complex has stayed closed since the pandemic started this spring.

The state caps the number of people who can be at an outdoor event at 175. That’s simply not enough for a place like Red Rocks, which Kitts said seats roughly 9,500 and was anticipating 108 shows this year.

“Until there’s a vaccine and or rapid-testing that’s going to allow people into sports and entertainment venues, I think this is something the industry is going to have to deal with as a whole,” Kitts said.

Closing the venues means some staff will be furloughed through January 2021. Others will be furloughed part-time, including people who do essential venue management and maintenance work. The furloughs will begin Sept. 27.

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