Cleo Parker Robinson Dance receives $4 million in state funding to expand its historic Five Points headquarters

The beloved dance company is among four Denver organizations — including Lighthouse Writers Workshop, the Holiday Theater and Lifespan Local — to receive Community Revitalization Grants.
3 min. read
The Intergenerational Women’s African Drum and Dance Ensemble performs during the annual Kwanzaa celebration at Cleo Parker Robinson Dance in Five Points. Dec. 26, 2021.
Kevin J. Beaty/Denverite

Beloved Denver dance company Cleo Parker Robinson Dance has received $4 million in state funding to revitalize and expand its Five Points facilities.

The dance company is one of the latest cultural organizations across Colorado to receive the the grant, which provides gap funding for projects by local artists and creative-industry leaders to further the economic recovery and diversification of the sector.

"The arts have always been a catalyst for economic development, but Colorado's creative arts industry was hit exceptionally hard by COVID-19," said Colorado Creative Industries director Margaret Hunt in a statement.

Cleo Parker Robinson Dance has been a staple of Denver's arts scene since it was founded by the dancer and choreographer in 1970. The nonprofit is celebrated for its legacy of uplifting BIPOC artists through its programming and for honoring the African Diaspora through dance. The company has performed all over the world, and also offers classes and cultural programming out of its Five Points headquarters.

The historic building was built in 1925 and for decades functioned as the A.M.E. Shorter Church before becoming the CPRD headquarters. CPRD plans to use the funding to expand, adding a 25,000 square-foot, four-floor building. The space will include a theater, three movement studios, four activity rooms to house arts classes, a healing-arts center and office spaces. The initiative will add 36 full-time, part-time and contracted jobs at CPRD. The company also plans to offer more scholarship opportunities to schools in Five Points.

"This expansion project has been a dream of many years," CPRD said in a statement. "While many donors and supporters of Cleo Parker Robinson Dance have discussed this project opportunity with us, and to date have invested in this project (before and during the pandemic), you may imagine that CPRD has had significant challenges in bringing this goal to fruition. The funding from the State of Colorado OEDIT is in addition to an array of other financial support."

CPRD is one of four Denver institutions receiving Community Revitalization Grants this month.

The Lighthouse Writers Workshop received $2.4 million in funding to build a permanent, 11,000-square-foot space for Colorado's writing community, which will include a 220-seat performance space, classrooms and art galleries displaying the work of local artists. Denver Cultural Property Trust (DCPT) received $1 million to redevelop the historic Holiday Theater to provide rental spaces for the MCA, artist studios and 15 affordable apartment units to support creative industry workers in Denver. And Lifespan Local, a community service group that owns the Redeemer Lutheran Church building in Westwood, received $2 million to convert the building into a community space, which will include a public library, an early childhood learning center, a community kitchen, a law clinic, a mental health clinic and an artist makerspace.

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