It’s been a crazy year for Red Rocks Amphitheatre — they’ve hosted more visitors than they ever have before and continue to host more and more shows every year. This year holds some big changes for the historic venue in Morrison — changes will be made to the planter boxes that hold the trees that line the stands, an art installation will be installed and the venue will move over to primarily digital ticketing.
Trees, Railings and Planter Boxes
According to the City of Denver, Red Rocks Amphitheatre has been violating code for safety railings for a number of years. With new railings could come upgraded planter boxes, which could potentially mean removing and replacing some of the trees that line the stands. We spoke with Brian Kitts, marketing director for the City of Denver Arts and Venues. “Bottom line is, we’re not up to code,” said Kitts. The code violation in this situation means that the platforms need safety railings. Kitts explained that the basic code says that platforms in any publicly accessible venue have railings of a certain height to protect patrons from falling. “Right now, the planter boxes are used by patrons for seating/standing during shows. That’s where the violation is,” said Kitts.
According to Nancy Kuhn of Denver Public Works, the specific code in violation is the International Building Code 2015 Volume 1, Section 1015.2. The City of Denver is working on another proposal to present to the Landmark Preservation Committee now, although nothing is final as of late. Kitts said that the city plans on revising their last proposal that was submitted, and next year if approved, they’ll be testing four different prototypes for railings around the planter boxes. Kitts further explained that with the new plan and the prototype boxes, some trees will definitely have to be removed, but not all of them. He claims healthy trees would be left in place and the ones removed would be substituted with other foliage. “The plan really calls for more of a cyclical building of the different planter boxes and taking out trees that have already died or aren’t looking good. So you could potentially put in a railing, you could put in the paving, but to make it uniform, you’re going to have to take out trees,” Kitts said.
Over the last 20 or so years, there have been a number of other proposals sent into the LPC for approval, but every one of them had involved taking out some of the trees, so there was pushback from Friends of Red Rocks. The good news is that our local checks and balances are alive and well. The bad news is that a conclusion needs to be made. Kitts said that the city plans on revising the proposal, and next year if approved, they’ll be testing four different prototypes for railings around the planter boxes.
In April 2017, Denver Arts and Venues announced a plan to install some permanent public art. Local artists were encouraged to submit their work for a chance to be involved. Michael Chavez, Public Art Manager for Denver Arts and Venues, told 303 that Colorado artist Andrew Dufford of Chevo Studios was recently chosen and commissioned for a new permanent art installation at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre that will consist of three separate stone sculptures in three different locations within the park. “Each sculpture will be carved in a way that visitors may also use them for seating,” Chavez explained. “They will be placed in transitional areas where natural and man-made elements converge.” If everything goes as planned, the installations should be finished by the end of 2018.
“Red Rocks is such an iconic and unique place – the art selection panel was clear they wanted artwork that would complement, not compete, with the setting. Andrew impressed the committee with his deep understanding of the geology and history of the area. He has a strong track record of using natural materials, specifically stone, and created a concept that will feel very much integrated into Red Rocks Park.” – Michael Chavez
As a Colorado-native, Dufford has spent most of his life exploring the many geological wonders that our state has to offer. Out of over 100 local artists who applied to the call, Dufford’s art was chosen — “I’m creating a series of hand-carved stone seating areas to welcome visitors and serve as places of wonder and ‘connecting points’ to the landscape. The pieces highlight the amazing geology, ecology and history of the park,” Dufford explained. He continued,
“As with many beautiful natural areas, the park is always on the verge of being loved to death. The challenge of keeping both visitors and the ecosystem safe and healthy is a constant task. The proposed gathering places are designed to allow visitors to engage with the stone and to reveal layers of wonder and delight that reside within this rich ecosystem. The art acts as a window on the landscape, deepening understanding, appreciation and care of this amazing treasure.”
Denver Arts and Venues announced in November that Red Rocks Amphitheatre will implement “new ticketing and seating procedures” for the 2018 season — which include moving to a digital ticketing format using Flash Seats for all ticket sales. This change will begin with the first four rows (including handicap seats) for shows occurring after February 1, 2018. Then in the spring, it will expand to the whole venue. According to Kitts, they are starting with these seats because they “are most likely to be fraudulently purchased and then resold on the secondary ticket market.”
Starting May 15, Red Rocks tickets will only be available digitally through Flash Seats or the Red Rocks App unless hard tickets are requested for an added fee (tickets will still be available for no fee at the Coliseum Box Office on Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.) The new Red Rocks App will be available before the change on April 1, 2018, where digital tickets can also be accessed (also through Flash Seats). Primary tickets will be digital tickets delivered to the ticket-buyers flash account. After May 15, attendees will need a registered Flash Seats ID or Red Rocks Mobile App for entry at the venue gates, unless possessing a paper ticket.