Plaza Update

Workers continue the construction of the David Street Station public plaza Thursday afternoon. Members of the arts community said they are excited for the new opportunities the space will offer.

Josh Galemore, Star-Tribune

For months, organizers at The Lyric have eagerly tracked the construction of David Street Station as it progressed across the street.

Not only will the public plaza create opportunities for new events, but it will also continue to foster Casper’s burgeoning arts community as a whole, said Glenda Thomas, executive director of the venue.

“I believe we can all help each other be successful with the different opportunities they have to bring people downtown,” she said. “The more people that come down there, the better.”

The highly anticipated space will offer musicians, performers and other artists a new venue to showcase their skills. More than that, however, artists hope that the addition of the plaza will help connect artists and enhance the art scene as a whole.

“I’m a big believer that rising tides float all boats,” Nicolaysen Art Museum consulting director Ann Ruble said. “So the more that we can have live music and performances and things like that, it just helps everybody.”

Built for variety

David Street Station was built to meet the needs of the community and accommodate a variety of events all year, said Lyle Murtha, principal architect at Stateline No. 7 Architects. The firm consulted several community organizations and members for design input, including those involved in the arts.

“It’s the community’s design, because they really did come up with all the ideas,” Murtha said. “I’m just orchestrating everything to the finished product here.”

The venue was built to accommodate events from touring bands to street buskers, and political speeches to movie nights, he added. Phase one of the plaza is scheduled for completion next month and the plaza’s first booked acts include performances for the Wyoming Eclipse Festival, including headliner Chancey Williams and the Younger Brothers Band.

The plaza will have built-in speakers and a power system that will allow rows of vendors to plug in underneath their tents. Extra stage segments can create a thrust stage setup for larger concerts or even a fashion runway, Murtha said.

Tiered seating will give audiences good visibility of the main stage while various other spaces will be accessible for smaller acts, he said.

“A street performer could just stop there and start performing for people sitting on the bench,” Murtha said.

Enhancing the arts scene and downtown

Amy Crawford, David Street Station operations manager with the Downtown Development Authority, predicted the plaza will make possible a variety of events that will help the growing arts scene in Casper continue to thrive.

The Brian Scott Gamroth Community Stage will host regular live performances, including music and dance, Crawford said in an email. The development authority also plans for the plaza to become a stop for the monthly Casper Art Walks with a variety of guest artists and craft vendors.

“For me personally, it’s more just supporting everything else that’s already going on in Casper with the arts,” Crawford added. “We’re just proud to be part of it. We want to be part of that activity and part of that energy.”

Several local arts organizers are beginning to look at hosting events and collaborating with others.

The plaza is unlike any open, outdoor community gathering space that Casper has had before, Casper Art Walk organizer and local artist Tony Elmore said. He looks forward to seeing the monthly art walks expand into the space as well as other speaking, music and art events.

Members of the Wyoming Symphony Orchestra are also excited to use the performance space. The plaza is ideal to for several ensembles in the symphony, including a string group, a woodwind group and a horn ensemble, orchestra executive director Rachel Bailey said.

“I think a place like that that’s more intimate and outdoors is really a great place to showcase some of that talent that we have,” Bailey said.

She also expects to plaza to be part of a growing arts scene that includes performing and visual arts.

“I think that it will really enhance the life in downtown Casper,” Bailey said. “But I also think it will help create Casper as a cultural hub that it is already becoming.”

The Yellowstone Garage near the plaza already hosts events such as Rock the Block on Thursdays during the summer. But with the plaza, possibilities include expanding the event into a larger area and growing the Old Yellowstone District into a hotspot, event coordinator Garijo Brierley said.

ART 321 director Diane Harrop she and the organization’s members support anything that brings people to the neighborhood. While Harrop remains concerned about reduced parking in the area, she said she looks forward to collaborations that benefit the arts and the area.

“Creative people tend to feed off of the creative energies of others,” she said. “So the more people involved, the bigger and more interesting the party becomes.”

Follow reporter Elysia Conner on Twitter @erconner

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