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Dancing Spirit Center for the Arts building begins to take shape in Ignacio

‘We really want a permanent home. We are tired of moving’
Building plans are seen for the Dancing Spirit Center for the Arts gallery and studio, which is being built at 465 Goddard Ave., in Ignacio. (Leah Veress/Durango Herald)
Jun 24, 2019
Ignacio woman finds healing through art

IGNACIO – Members and supporters of the Dancing Spirit Center for the Arts gathered under the beating sun Wednesday at 465 Goddard Ave. in Ignacio to hold a rising ceremony for the organization’s new studio and gallery.

“It’s like a barn raising,” said Kasey Correia, executive director of Dancing Spirit. “We wanted to bring the community together to celebrate.”

As the ceremony opened, Correia held up a unicorn piñata, declaring it to be the nonprofit’s new mascot.

“It captures the magic of this project,” she said.

While construction began June 1, the quest for finding a new arts center building began much earlier.

The nonprofit was founded in 2010 by four members and 13 artists as a co-op gallery. Since then, the organization has moved locations four times, Correia said.

“We really want a permanent home. We are tired of moving,” she said.

In 2019, Dancing Spirit was ready to move forward on buying the old American Legion building at 500 Goddard Ave. Correia said she fell in love with the old pine floors and the high ceilings and could see the dream of having a permanent home for an art studio and gallery come to life.

In December 2021, the deal fell through, leaving Dancing Spirit’s board back where it started.

“I remember thinking, ‘Well, I don’t know, maybe we’re going to shut our doors.’ You get to these moments. If you're honest,” Correia said.

Rather than give up, Dancing Spirit began looking at empty lots where a building could be built from scratch. It was this approach that led to the eventual purchase of the 465 Goddard Ave. lot in late 2022.

Initially, Correia said they estimated the project would cost $450,000. This statement was met with a wave of laughter from the rising ceremony crowd, which included members of the town Board of Trustees; representatives from First Southwest Bank, which is funding the project; and members of Clearheart Designs and Innovative Design and Renovations Inc., who helped design and execute the building.

Now, the total budget for the lot, building materials and construction costs stands at $1.664 million. With the cost of furniture, pottery wheels and kilns, Correia said the budget easily rises to $2 million.

The first major purchase of the project was the land, which she said was funded entirely by an anonymous family.

“They were the (first) ones who believed in us to bring this project to life,” she said.

After the initial $100,000 donation, the majority of the project’s funding was derived from state, business and community grants. Clearheart Designs and IDR have also donated close to $100,000 worth of time and work to Dancing Spirit.

Kasey Correia of the Dancing Sprit Center for the Arts addresses spectators at Wednesday’s Rising Ceremony. (Leah Veress/ Durango Herald)

When the Dancing Spirit board voted to enlist IDR to complete the build, Tony Blevins, owner and operations manager of the company, was thrilled. His ties to the community and Dancing Spirit earn the build a special place in his heart.

“My mother, Melody Hedin, is married to Correia,” he said. While the connection did not earn Blevins the job, he said it increases his passion for the work.

“To be part of this, to see this thing come together with all these different dreams from multiple people and different entities is breathtaking – I really don’t know any other way to put it,” he said. “I am honored and humbled to be the one picked to build this.”

Blevins and his team have yet to see any payment for the build, which is just one example of the financial generosity the community has shown Dancing Spirit through the building process.

In addition to grant funding, Dancing Spirit is also relying on community-based methods of raising funds.

“We’ve had a black tie fundraiser, we’ve had bake sales,” Correia said. “I know it’s laughable, but it’s something.”

She said Dancing Spirit is working to obtain $518,000 to fund the project.

The main goal of Dancing Spirit and the new building is to give back to the community and create a space for artists to display their art and cultivate their passions, Correia said.

“(Dancing Sprit) is a neutral ground. It doesn’t matter what your background is, what your beliefs are, it’s a way you can connect. So Dancing Sprit allows people from all walks of life to get together and find a common ground,” said Cora Shubert, administrative assistant at Dancing Spirit. “It promotes healing through the arts, both cultural and personal. And it’s a way to learn to express yourself more when words fail.”

The new building will feature studios, an education performance area and a co-op art gallery designed to incubate artists.

The reach of Dancing Spirit stretches far past the borders of Ignacio, Correia said.

Mayor Pro Tem Edward Box III blesses the building sight of the Dancing Spirit arts building during Wednesday’s Rising Ceremony. (Courtesy of Kelly Francis with IDR)

“I want you to see all the lives that we touch along the way,” she said. “It’s not all about the building, there’s so much more when you are working through people, the magic of creativity is powerful.”

Dancing Spirit offers monthly classes to the students of the Southern Ute Indian Montessori Academy, and biweekly art classes to the students of the Southern Ute boys and girl’s club, and adult pottery classes.

Correia said she hopes the arts center creates a space and classes to accommodate anyone and everyone who has an interest in the arts, regardless of age, beliefs or race.

To honor the intersection of cultures that Ignacio represents, Correia invited both Ignacio Mayor Pro Tem Edward Box III of the Southern Ute Tribe and the Rev. Randall Haynes of the Ignacio Community Church to bless the building at the rising ceremony.

“It’s amazing to watch everybody come together. There was this big dream that everybody with Dancing Spirit wanted, to (create) a place together for the community as a whole and outside communities, to have a place to gather and learn (about) all the different cultures and different styles and types of art,” Blevins said.


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