The mission of the Friends of the Chief is to preserve, program and manage the multi-use historic Chief Theater that contributes to the cultural and economic vitality of Downtown Steamboat Springs.
Volunteer community members organized the Friends of the Chief Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, in the spring of 2010 for the purpose of exploring the acquisition of the historic Chief Theater building in downtown Steamboat Springs and the subsequent rehabilitation of the Chief Theater. We have developed this historic building into a cultural and performing arts center that meets the needs of a vibrant and active arts community through state-of-the-art technology, diverse programming and educational opportunities.
In late 2012 we turned renovated space from a 4-plex movie theater into a multi-purpose venue with a 140+ seat theater for music of all genres, theater, comedy, dance, film, literary arts and more. Our range of programming seeks to appeal to locals of all ages throughout Routt County as well as our many visitors. We seek to be eclectic, dynamic, fun and inspiring.
Historically, the Chief Theater has been an important part of Downtown Steamboat Springs. Constructed by Arthur E. Gumprecht in 1926, the original single story building had a seating capacity of 500 and was acclaimed as the largest theater in Northwest Colorado. In December of 2009 the building became available for sale as the lease agreement with Carmike Cinemas was to terminate in 2012. The Friends of the Chief Foundation was then formed with the goal of turning the building back into a performing arts venue.
After years of dedication, patience and persistence, Friends of the Chief was able to cultivate community interest, support and financial sponsorship. Community members had expressed the need for a cultural and performing arts anchor in Historic Downtown Steamboat Springs, in essence a venue that would help foster our thriving arts scene (including film, theater, dance, music and visual arts). Friends of the Chief incorporated into Friends of the Chief Foundation (the "Foundation"), a Colorado nonprofit corporation, on August 5, 2010. But to everyone that knows us we are the CHIEF THEATER!
The Chief Theater's unique space boasts a main theater that seats up to 190 people that includes state of the art sound and lighting equipment. The Chief Theater is also happy that we have reached our first anniversary with no post obstruction in the main theater. Also in 2016, the Chief Theater with the help of Fedwa Construction, repurposed the post and it now resides in our beautifully redesigned concession area. With community support, the Chief Theater completed construction on our 'Lil Theater, turning it from a theater into a fine-looking multi-purpose green room. This space has already hosted numerous events and performers. These are just some of the amenities that the Chief Theater offers other community non-profit organizations. Before and after photos of the main theater and concession area are located in the photos section of this website.
"The Bud Werner Memorial Library is honored to partner with the Chief Theater to bring top-notch cultural programming to our community. Our monthly foreign film series has become a much-loved community ritual, and the collaboration between our nonprofits proves successful time and time again. The library is proud to work along side the Chief to promote a culturally vibrant downtown Steamboat Springs."
Adult Programs Coordinator
Bud Werner Memorial Library
Steamboat Springs, CO
"Harwigs and the Chief Theater have had a mutually beneficial partnership since the Chief Theater opened its doors. The addition of the Chief Theater to downtown Steamboat Springs has not only benefited Harwigs, but also every other shop and restaurant. We see so many customers at our restaurant that are also customers of the Chief Theater, and vice versa. We are always telling our customers about the great mix of entertainment that the Chief offers. We are also proud to be annual sponsors of the Chief."
Steamboat Springs, CO
"Alpine Bank is a proud supporter of the Chief Theater. We know what a great value the Chief is to our community in presenting top notch performing and cultural arts events. Members of our staff are frequent visitors to the Chief. In its short history, the Chief has already made a significant positive impact in our arts community, and to our residents and guests. They are great partners."
Alpine Bank Steamboat Springs