Brower: Rocky Mountain Repertory remains the gold standard |

Brower: Rocky Mountain Repertory remains the gold standard

When it comes to understanding and appreciating what it takes to be a cultural and arts leader in a mountain community, the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre in Grand Lake is the gold standard.

Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre puts on a series of well-produced and exquisitely performed summer performances every summer season — including September — in Grand Lake. The shows are presented in a large, well-designed and nearly-brand new theatre space located right on the main street in Grand Lake.

As well, the theatre offers the popular youth theatre workshops every summer as well, an offering that has been enthusiastically supported by the local, and visiting, community for 20 years. I know, because my children have taken part in it for the last four years. We love it.

All this gushing about Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre has a purpose. It is to show the way in which top-quality arts and cultural offerings can greatly help the economy and culture of a community like Grand Lake and all of Grand County.

For starters, consider this, from Rocky Mountain Rep’s Artistic Director Michael Querio: “We have nearly 20,000 patrons over the course of a year, from almost all 50 states and a large number of foreign countries — many of which tell us that they come to Colorado specifically to see our shows each season — that they build their vacations and travel time around what our theatre has to offer.”

So, the first benefit is simply that it brings many people to Grand Lake and Grand County as a bonafide cultural draw. And it continues to succeed. Consider that Rocky Mountain Rep just finished celebrating its 50th anniversary, hosting more sold out shows that ever before, with 45 of 70 shows hosting a full house. As Querio says: “It was one of our best summers ever.”

The lesson here is that perseverance, a well-thought out mission and funding strategy can pay big dividends, both for the local community and the arts venture itself. Rocky Mountain Rep got started humbly and with minimal resources, experimenting over the years with its non-profit structure, fund-raising approaches and clarification of its overall mission. But, basically, it never wavered in its commitment to provide the best possible live summer theatre possible, regardless of its budget.

And then there’s the benefit of having dedicated, selfless and enthusiastic volunteer board leadership, whether it goes back to Marty Schneller and her efforts of 35 years ago or Barbara Meyer and her current efforts with the board and its strategic plan. In many cases with many non-profits it’s the non-profit leadership, so critical in fund-raising and mission development, that continues to propel arts and cultural success in Grand Lake and Grand County.

Of course, the unspoken of obvious ingredient in this success story is the fantastic setting in Grand Lake and Grand County that is enjoyed by Rocky Mountain Rep. There really is no place like Grand Lake; it’s the namesake of Colorado’s largest natural lake and it sits at the western portal to the world famous Rocky Mountain National Park in Grand County’s most picturesque town.

And yet all of Grand County can boast of similar natural benefits that are unique to the grand county is which we live. Local cultural and arts efforts throughout the county are lucky to have a great example to follow in the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre in Grand Lake.

Patrick Brower is the Enterprise Facilitator for the Grand Enterprise Initiative. He provides free and confidential business management coaching for anyone who wants to start or expand a business in Grand County. He can be reached at 970-531-0632 or at

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