In 1994, a group of teachers got together and rented a building on Grand Avenue next door to The Diner Restaurant (now the home of Coldwell Banker Real Estate). The teachers decided to name the business the Blue Sage Dance and Movement Center and began offering classes in yoga, tai chi and dance, as well as massage therapy sessions. This also became the venue for the annual Paonia Holiday Arts Festival.
Music became a part of the Center with the introduction of an open stage called the Sage Stage. In 1996, the two-story Historic Curtis Hardware building became available to rent, and the Blue Sage moved to their new location at 228 Grand Avenue. A non-profit corporation was formed in that same year, and IRS tax-exempt status achieved.
Over the next few years, classes continued to be the main offering at the Blue Sage, with an occasional folk concert, and the annual Paonia Holiday Arts Festival in December. All classes and events took place on the main floor – a family lived in the upstairs apartment. Blue Sage staff consisted of a part-time manager.
In 1998 the name of the organization was changed to the Blue Sage Center for the Arts. In that same year, the owner of the building decided to sell it and offered the Blue Sage first opportunity. The board members of the Blue Sage Center organized a Capital Campaign to raise the necessary $225,000.
The fundraiser to purchase the building kicked off with an incredible Halloween event called the Masked Ball. With donations from local individuals, businesses, and Blue Sage members and funding from several private foundations, the Blue Sage completed the purchase of the building thirteen months later, on November 29, 1999.
In January 2000, the Blue Sage Center for the Arts opened its office on the second floor of the Historic Curtis Building, bought a computer and installed a telephone. The staff consisted of Thomas Smith (who had been contracted as manager in September 1999).
In May of 2003, the Blue Sage began another Capital Campaign to purchase the adjacent “First National Bank Building,” built in 1903. This is the building which presently houses the art gallery, events lobbly, office and class room space.
In May of 2004, the Blue Sage obtained full use of the new building while still in the midst of the fundraiser to purchase it. The buidling was purchased outright shortly thereafter.
In April of 2005, a doorway was created between the two buildings, allowing the Blue Sage to have one large facility out of the two separate. In May of 2005, the “old bank building” was officially added to the Colorado Register of Historic Properties.
A Board of Directors governs the Blue Sage, and our Executive Director and Administrative Director run the day-to-day affairs of the Center. Members of the Board of Directors are elected at our annual membership meeting and serve on a voluntary basis. Membership in the Blue Sage Center is open to all without regard to race, sex, age, nationality, sexual orientation, disability or religion.
In addition the variety of Blue Sage programming, the facilities are also rented at sub-market raties to individuals for instruction, meetings and special events. Regularly scheduled classes have included everything from African Inspired Dance to Fencing, Theater Group, Writer’s Workshop, Tai Chi, Yoga and Community Chorus. We also rent or donate the use of our facility to many non-profit organizations. Hundreds of performances, benefits and fundraising events have been held at the Blue Sage.
The Blue Sage Board of Directors plays an active role in producing many of the special events that take place at the center and in keeping the day to day business of the Blue Sage running smoothly. The Board Members chair the facilities, fundraising, and membership committees, as well as are the event organizers for the Local History Series, “This is Where We Live”, Paint Paonia, and many more.
Most special events and classes at the Blue Sage take place on the large, open, street-level floor of the Curtis Building. The second floor of the building is also open for meetings and over-night lodging. The kitchen on the second floor is also available for the use of the Arts Center and the organizations and individuals who rent the space.
The Blue Sage is continually morphing to respond to the needs and climate of the community. Through its many stages of change though, the Blue Sage has remained defined as a space where community individuals are inspired to celebrate and engage with one another. And that is remarkably valuable.