ABOUT THE SHERBINO
The Sherbino and its adjacent 610 Arts Collective are highly-energized anchors in the heart of historic downtown Ridgway. The Sherbino, or the “Sherb” to many locals, refers both to the physical space, and all that it embodies. The building — the Sherbino, is owned and operated by the Ridgway Chautauqua Society, a nonprofit organization incorporated in 2012 for the purpose of keeping the historic Sherbino theater a community gathering place and fully utilizing the space by offering high-quality, diverse programming.
Today the Sherbino is synonymous with the Ridgway Chautauqua Society. But that hasn’t always been the case. On August 27 1915, the Ouray Herald reported on Ridgway’s newest building, “The new theater being erected by Louis Sherbino and son is nearing completion and will be ready for the opening show and dance the first week in September. The theater will be one of the most up-to-date on the Western Slope, with comfortable chairs, best of lighting fixtures, perfect ventilation and an ideal floor for dancing.”
The Sherbino was designated a Colorado State Landmark in 1991 for its significant role in the social and cultural heritage of the Town of Ridgway. It has been many things in its 100-plus year history: a performance venue, a roller-skating rink, a teepee/yurt factory, a film house, an illegal gambling hall, a post office, a live music hall, meeting & gathering place, and Jack Dempsey even fought here!
Fast forward to 2009 when the Sherbino Theater sat dark for the entire winter. After a brief re-opening as the White Horse Saloon, the Sherbino again went dark in 2011. Many of us began asking if we, the citizens of the community, could find a way to get the Sherbino open again. The suggestion for the Town government to buy it, didn’t fly for a number of good reasons.
On December 20th, 2011, we were told that the theater would close for good. That catalyzed us to spring into action. Eleven days later, we staged the “Emergency New Year’s Eve Party”. Our motto “Think Globally, Party Locally.” Two breweries donated beer. Three liquor stores donated wine and tequila. Two bands played for free. The newspapers gave us discounted ad space. The word went out on Facebook. Over 200 people showed up on December 31, 2011 which helped us realize how important the theater was to our community. We decided, with passion and gusto, to incorporate and re-invent the Sherbino Theater.
On February 11, 2012 we incorporated as the Ridgway Chautauqua Society Inc., doing business as (dba) the Sherbino Community Theater Association. Today, we are more frequently called the Sherbino, but to bring emphasis to our broader mission, we have adopted the moniker, Ridgway Chautauqua at the Sherbino.
In July of 2012 we received our 501(c)(3) designation from the I.R.S. Knowing that we needed paid staff in order to deliver on our mission, we partnered with Weehawken Creative Arts in 2014, entering into a very unique staff-sharing arrangement. Weehawken offered up some of it's talented team on a part-time basis to the Sherbino to get programs and operations up and running. This wonderful partnership continues still and has helped keep our costs low and expertise high.
In 2014, RCS secured title to The Sherbino building and then fundraised for the full purchase of the building at 604 Clinton Street. RCS now fully owns 604 Clinton Street (The Sherbino) without debt.
In 2018, the RCS Board and Staff team undertook the fundraising, planning and implementation of a series of upgrades and updates for the Sherbino Theater. In a matter of months, the space was transformed into a newer, brighter, lighter, warmer (when needed), cooler (when needed), better sounding, more organized, and overall better-feeling space. It was a crucial endeavor in the process of truly showcasing what a gem the Sherbino is in its existing form. The "style" of the space, the sound of the room and the overall flexibility of experiences since that campaign have been significantly improved -- along with user experience thanks to those changes!
THE 610 ARTS COLLECTIVE & COURTYARD AT 610
In summer and early fall of 2017, after examining plans for a new capital campaign, the organization decided to go on a series of "learning journeys" to assess our previous long term plans. During this process, the board, staff and interested supporters joined us for tours of 17 arts facilities in Western Colorado. The journeys were highly useful, as many regional nonprofits shared with us the many lessons they endured through their planning and capital campaign journeys. The ultimate result of the trip was this: rather than deciding to fully change the beloved Sherbino, we needed to explore ways to expand our footprint instead. A concept of an "arts campus" for the community was born.
By early fall of 2017, RCS approached several nearby property owners to ask if anyone would be willing to sell to them. Initially, the answer was no. But as luck would have it, opportunity knocked. The owner of 610 Clinton Street came forward and offered RCS a limited time opportunity to purchase. By December of 2017, RCS secured title on 610 Clinton Street and began fundraising to retire the debt on the building. RCS and Weehawken moved into the space at 610 Clinton Street and began to experiment with program options for activating the space.
In 2018, we were able to retire the debt on 610 Clinton Street and initiate some much needed repairs to the Sherbino thanks to the property acquisition at 610. By summer of 2018, we began activating 610 Clinton as a gallery space and classroom space while working on major construction projects at the rear of the building for the longevity of the Sherbino.
In 2019, we ran a small, private campaign to raise money to finish up the land behind the building that had been under construction since acquisition. The idea was a small outdoor courtyard that might get use every once in a while during the summer and fall months. Fortunately (and with no idea that a pandemic was just around the corner) the courtyard's structural bones were completed on Oct 31, 2019.
March of 2020 brought all of us Covid. With the help of some close-in donors and friends, the Courtyard was quickly developed over the course of three weeks into an actual outdoor venue. The Courtyard at 610 became the saving grace for many area musicians and socialization-hungry locals and visitors. Staff activated nearly 5 nights a week of live music or film with two showings a night from June through Oct, 2020 and then again in the spring, summer and fall of 2021. As we have moved forward post-pandemic, the Courtyard remains a staple of the summer experience in Ridgway.
The acquisition and activation of another historic downtown building was a crucial move. It has supported RCS' vision for the future of arts programs in Ridgway and it has supported the Town’s vision for developing a vibrant Main Street and Creative District.
GET INVOLVED WITH THE SHERBINO
RIDGWAY CHAUTAUQUA SOCIETY MISSION
To offer and support programs that promote lifelong learning, the arts, culture, community and embody the Chautauqua tradition while advancing the creative economic vitality of our region.
RIDGWAY CHAUTAUQUA SOCIETY VISION
Create a community with abundant access to inspiring art, music and ideas.
RIDGWAY CHAUTAUQUA SOCIETY VALUES
- Intellectual & civic engagement
- Collaboration & partnerships
- Local talent & expertise
- Responsible stewardship of resources
LOOKING FOR ARTS & ENRICHMENT CLASSES? CHECK OUT OUR SISTER ORGANIZATION WEEHAWKEN ARTS FOR A FULL LISTING.
VOLUNTEER WITH THE SHERBINO
Running close to 200 events each year isn't easy. And, as valuable as the Sherbino staff is to making everything happen, they couldn't do it without a dedicated team of volunteers. Whether providing governance and oversight as a board member or literally staffing an event, volunteers are the lifeblood of the Sherbino.
BOARD OF TRUSTEES
- Sheelagh Williams: President
- Sue Husch: Vice President
- Patrick O'Leary: Co-Treasurer
- Emma Kigar: Co-Treasurer
- Allison Gelvin: Secretary
- Lincoln Anderson
- Guthrie Castle
- John Clark
- Ken Mihelich
- Gary Ratcliff
- Jacob Torrey
- Bob Mann: Emeritus
- Pat Willits: Emeritus
- Ashley King: Executive Director (Half-Time/Shared)
- Trisha Oakland: Programs Director (Half-Time/Shared)
- Collin Sullivan: Curator and Director of Live Theater and Storytelling (Half-Time/Shared)
- Derek Jones: House Manager and Sound Engineer
- Kevin Grambley: Bar Manager