Visitors to the Denver Performing Arts Complex (DPAC) this holiday season will be able to immerse themselves in the latest augmented and virtual reality technology thanks to a partnership between the University of Colorado Denver and Denver Arts & Venues.
Next Stage Collaborative, a gallery located in the DPAC Galleria across from the Buell Theatre, will engage patrons of all ages in interactive artwork created by students and faculty in the CU Denver College of Arts & Media using tablets, mobile devices and the latest generation of virtual reality headsets. The gallery will be open to the public before most performances at DPAC.
Using funding from Arts & Venues’ The Next Stage Now program, students in CU Denver’s Design Build program, Colorado Building Workshop, transformed a vacant retail space in the Galleria to a flexible, modern gallery. The 900-square-foot space will be used to share the work of students and faculty in the College of Arts and Media and the College of Architecture and Planning through the spring.
The current exhibit includes a virtual reality experience entitled “How the Heart Works” that shows the inner workings of the heart using 3D modeling, enhanced by computer-generated sounds, images and graphics.
To further the educational opportunities made available by this partnership, CU Denver students will also act as docents in the Next Stage Collaborative, managing the gallery, answering questions and guiding the public through the exhibit.
“The partnership with Denver Arts & Venues aligns with CU Denver’s focus on project-based learning and our commitment to engage as a partner in the community where we study, work and live,” said CU Denver Chancellor Dorothy Horrell. “We are thrilled our students are able to explore their fields in a real-world context and they can share their work with patrons of the Denver Performing Arts Complex.”
In March 2016, Mayor Michael Hancock unveiled The Next Stage Vision Plan for DPAC. The plan enlivens, diversifies and sustains DPAC with new and updated venues, programming, and more public spaces. As community, business and arts leaders appointed by Mayor Hancock set out to advance work on The Next Stage, Arts & Venues created The Next Stage Now initiative. Through a partnership with the Boettcher Foundation and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, The Next Stage Now is a funding source for performances and events that activate the non-traditional areas of DPAC.
“The Next Stage Collaborative hints at a bold vision for DPAC through The Next Stage vision plan,” said Arts & Venues Executive Director Kent Rice. “Partnering with CU Denver brings the originality and imagination of student projects into a non-traditional space. Furthermore, the collaborative displays the talents of Denver’s future arts leaders and reinforces a commitment to education within the complex.”
Arts & Venues is the City and County of Denver agency responsible for managing DPAC and overseeing The Next Stage and The Next Stage Now.
The Next Stage Collaborative is currently open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from noon to 7:30 p.m. Additional days and hours may be added, depending on visitor traffic and show schedules.