The Butte Theater Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit committed to enhancing the theatrical arts and growing arts tourism in Cripple Creek, CO. BTF partners with the City of Cripple Creek to produce programming in the historic Butte Theater.
Board of Directors
BTF is run by a Board of Directors. The Board consists of seven voting members, and is made up of local lovers of The Butte who donate thousands of hours every year to keep our theater operating.
John Capaci – Treasurer
Tom Ross – Secretary
Richard Hanes – General Counsel
Mel Moser – City Representative
Emily Andrews is the Executive Director
Board Meeting Minutes & Agendas
Jan 29, 2019 Agenda Minutes
SPECIAL MEETING Apr 22, 2019 Minutes
Aug 20, 2019 Agenda Minutes
Sep 17, 2019 Agenda Minutes
Oct 15, 2019 Agenda Minutes
Nov 19, 2019 Agenda Minutes
Dec 17, 2019 Agenda Minutes
Relationship with The City of Cripple Creek
The City of Cripple Creek owns and operates the building known fondly as “The Butte Theater.” In early 1999, when the City renovated the building, they contracted with the Mackin Family to produce classic melodramas. In 2007, Thin Air Theatre Company became the resident in house production company. The City directly contracted with them to produce programming and shows.
However, as the theater grew and the shows gained in popularity, the City began to see an opportunity in the formation of a non-profit. This is when The Butte Theater Foundation was formed. The City contracts with BTF to provide all programming that happens within the building. An independent 501(c)3 non-profit, BTF runs all the programs of The Butte Theater. The City continues their support through providing the use of the stage and building, covering costs associated with the building, and providing a contribution of $80,000 each year that goes directly towards production expenses for the Professional Season.
The City is also aiding BTF on our road to financial sustainability. Still a new company, the City helps us continue to run programs by providing a $200,000 loan at the beginning of each year that is repaid by BTF each December. This loan helps the Foundation with cash flow for the Professional Season while we work towards Financial Sustainability.
In 2015, the City of Cripple Creek approached BTF to request that we move towards Financial Sustainability. The Board of Directors developed a 5 year plan to reach sustainability by the end of 2020. Financial Sustainability for the Foundation entails that we will no longer be dependent on City support to continue operations. We are very proud to say that we are well on track towards hitting that goal.
The City and the Foundation and the city work hand in hand to continue growing theatre and arts tourism in Cripple Creek.
The Butte Theater Foundation operates three programs:
Resident professional theatre company Mountain Repertory Theatre produces a full theatrical season with 7 shows and 165 performances. As the only professional company in the region, MRT creates high quality entertainment in a beautiful Cripple Creek. Our wide variety of shows creates a theatrical experience that is interactive, inclusive and fun!
BTF provides entertainment for our local and loyal community in the months that our Professional Theatre is ‘dark.’ The months of January-May act as “The Community Season.” We provide free film nights, book professional touring acts for affordable ticket prices, produce a community theater play or musical with local performers, and host Cripple Creek’s Got Talent. Our community programming is focused on providing a space where our community can come create, explore and expand their experience of the arts.
Our education initiative boasts two main programs. 1) Ticket for Kids provides free tickets to area students to attend shows in our professional theatre season. 2) Butte Jr. Players engages local youth in volunteering at the theater and training in key areas of the industry.
History of Theater in Cripple Creek
Theater got an early start in the district – Cripple Creek and Victor both sported grand opera houses in the 1890s. Both are gone now, but the Butte lives on.
The “Butte Concert and Beer Hall” premiered in 1896, when proprietors Halbekann & Hertz featured nightly entertainment with a Ladies’ Vienna Orchestra. Some time later the theater re-premiered as the Butte Opera House under the management of D.R. McArthur. Within two years, numerous clubs and lodges were sponsoring parties and benefits at the Butte on a regular basis.
The opera house experienced limited success, and over the next several years underwent a series of makeovers; first it was transformed into the Butte Hall Dancing Academy, followed by The Watt Brothers Furniture Company, back to a theater (this time under the name Teller Hall,) on to a skating rink, a secondhand store, a weapons cache (the space was then called The Armory,) an auto garage, and eventually fell into disuse, mainly a storage facility for the fire department located below.
Early in 1999, the City of Cripple Creek brushed aside some of the dust and saw a lost jewel hidden amongst the rubble. The City began extensive renovations to refurbish the Butte with fresh paint, Victorian-era wallpaper, and period chandeliers. A 1,350-square foot stage spans the main room, with seating for 184 guests.
The tradition of presenting classic Victorian melodrama in Cripple Creek dates back to the late 1940s. In 1946, Wayne and Dorothy Mackin purchased the Imperial Hotel and began producing original melodramas in the basement of the hotel. They called their theater The Gold Bar Room. For 60-plus years the Mackins and their acting company, The Imperial Players, performed to summer crowds. In the early 1990s the last Imperial show was performed as the Imperial became a casino and the Gold Bar Room closed.
After a few dark years, the traditional Cripple Creek Melodrama was granted a new lease on life. When final renovations were completed on the Butte Theater in 2000, the summer melodrama moved to its new home. Now in a brand-new theater, the melodrama was conceived and produced not by Wayne and Dorothy Mackin, but by their son and daughter-in-law, Steve and Bonnie Mackin. Later, Stacy Mackin – the third generation of Mackins to produce melodrama in Cripple Creek – took over production.
In 2007, Thin Air Theatre Company emerged as the resident professional company, to carry on the tradition of melodrama and bring additional shows to the Butte. TATC produced 11 amazing seasons of shows.
The Butte Theater Foundation was formed to take over program management from the City with a goal of receiving outside funding to continue the growth and health of the theatre scene in Cripple Creek.
In 2018, BTF hired Mountain Repertory Theatre to be the resident professional company. With outstanding experience, enthusiasm and a great love for Cripple Creek and The Butte, MRT came in with a strong vision and blew us all away with an inaugural season. In 2019, they will be producing a varied 7 shows and 165 performances, including, of course, the classic melodrama.
The melodrama is a fun-filled family outing with professional actors, stunning hand-painted sets, and period costumes. Audiences can boo at villains and cheer for heroes in this traditional form of melodrama, just as audiences have in Cripple Creek since the 1940s!