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Buckman/Blount Community Fund expands access

Date: February 7, 2024
Author: Cat Hayes
True to its original mission, the Buckman Blount Fund is expanding its reach

The Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek, Colorado, has long been the gold standard of year-round performing arts venues in the Rocky Mountains.

This small but mighty theater has benefited from its location at the base of one of the nation’s most popular ski resorts, but it is also renowned for its exquisite architecture, phenomenal acoustics, and its ability to attract artists from Norah Jones and Lyle Lovett, to Jay Leno and Jim Gaffigan, and to host a wide array of performances including off-Broadway theater, classical, dance, magic, jazz, and more.

Since its opening in 1998, the Vilar Performing Arts Center (VPAC) has sought to not only be a performance space for legendary artists, but also a place where artistry is cultivated.

Young performers rehearse on the storied VPAC stage.
A group of young performers rehearse on the VPAC stage.

Opening the VPAC’s doors to local artists and performers is made possible, in large part, thanks to the Buckman/Blount Community Use Fund, which was created in 1997 by Robert & Joyce Mollerup Buckman and Red Blount. Both donors felt strongly that this fund was needed to develop the next generation of performing artists and audiences.

Now, the fund’s guidelines have been updated to ensure even greater access to this incredible amenity.

The fund underwrites the majority of production costs of the VPAC for youth & children, schools, and community performing arts groups, in that priority order. In addition to increasing the level of funding available to organizations for facility usage, the fund is now able to support organizations who present programming at the VPAC aimed at increasing performance attendance and engagement at the VPAC by youth and their parents or guardians.

“We hope to inspire the next generation of theatergoers and performers by providing access to the Vilar Performing Arts Center through this fund,” said Mr. Bob Buckman of the update. “We have the opportunity to develop local youth through the performing arts, and we believe that sharing our passion for the performing arts will enhance our community and our world.”

Without such funding, many community groups could simply not afford to utilize the facility. Annah Scully, founder of the Vail Performing Arts Academy, was an early recipient of the fund at its inception. “Giving young performers the opportunity to perform on a stage like that is life-changing!” she enthused.

Many former locals who benefitted from performing at the VPAC can attest to the positive effect of such an experience. Serena Kosuzko and Jonathan Windham both grew up in the Vail Valley and got their start on the VPAC stage. Kosuzko is now living and performing in New York City and said the VPAC has a huge reach: “People I work with in New York know about this not-so-hidden gem,” she shared.

Windham’s journey has taken him abroad to dance in numerous locations, but he credits the VPAC with sparking his desire to perform. “It was so amazing and inspiring to see such a diverse program being performed on that stage,” he recalls of his first time as an audience member at the VPAC. “Then, getting to be up there myself was incredible,” he shares.

So, what does it take to qualify for funding?

To start, the requesting organization must demonstrate a need, including provision of a balance sheet and a current proposed organizational budget. Recipients of funding must also solicit donations and underwriters on behalf of the community fund to ensure the continuation of community events at the VPAC. Additionally, if tuition is paid by community performers, such tuition benefits must be explained, and scholarships to two Eagle County students who would otherwise be unable to participate must be provided.

Additionally, the performers should be mainly youth and children. There are additional facility use and youth development funding criteria, along with reporting requirements to ensure the awards are distributed to ensure the fund’s intent: developing local youth through the performing arts.

For more information about the Buckman/Blount Community Use Fund, or to apply for funding, contact Cameron Morgan, VPAC’s Executive Director, via email at cmorgan@vvf.org.

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