The Mancos Creative District plans to open its first workshop for artists and students this spring.
Since it was founded in 2016, the Creative District has hosted regular classes and workshops through the Mancos School of the West. But since the organization doesn’t own any property, it has always used existing artists’ studios and other buildings.
Now, the board of directors has leased a structure from Alpacka Rafts that it hopes to transform into an outdoor “maker space” by mid-April.
Right now, the structure is a shed with a collapsing roof and aging support beams, located behind the Alpacka Rafts headquarters on 192 S. Main St. Last year the Creative District held several workshops in another shed on Alpacka property which is in much better shape, but board member Rena Wilson said the organization needs its own long-term location. She said Sheri Tingey, co-owner of Alpacka Rafts, offered to give Creative District directors a lease on the other shed provided they paid to fix it.
“We don’t have any place at all yet of our own,” Wilson said. “It sounded like a good idea.”
In fall of 2017, that idea came closer to reality when the District received a $12,000 Core Value grant from the Ballantine Family Fund, which would cover the estimated cost of repairs provided by local contractor Bradley Hoessle. Proceeds from this weekend’s Mancos Melt event will also go toward the project, to cover any unforeseen expenses and possibly pay for more construction in the future.
While fixing the roof is her top priority, Wilson said she would also like to provide electricity to the maker space, and possibly put up a sign that could be seen from the library next door. She said she would also like to install bathrooms in a smaller, adjoining shed that is also part of the lease. But Hoessle said that shed would also require extensive renovations, including a new roof.
The contractor, who is also working on a new design headquarters for Alpacka next door, said he expected repairs on the maker space to take about two weeks.
“We’re doing a very simple structural fix-up,” he said.
Since the District only has a five-year lease on the property, Wilson said the board of directors has no plans to do major construction there yet. If the District ever gets its own permanent headquarters, the maker space may no longer be necessary. But in the meantime, she said many of the District’s workshops and events would benefit from being held outdoors.
“It’s going to be great for Mancos School of the West workshops,” she said. “We’ve got several outdoor-type classes that can be held here.”
It may not look pretty itself, but the shed overlooks the scenic Mancos River and the nearby walking bridge. Wilson said it will be perfect for plein air painting classes, willow weaving workshops and blacksmithing demonstrations.
She said she hopes to open the maker space in time for the District’s first workshops on April 14.