Celebrating 20 Years of Spectacular Service
Experience and environment make the Denver Center for the Performing Arts the ideal venue for Mile High City events
PC: K Hulett photography
There’s nothing quite like Denver’s Seawell Ballroom. Views of the mountains and cityscape, theatrical-level production capabilities and a tight-knit team are just the start. As they celebrate the 20th anniversary of their unique space, the DCPA Event Services team takes a walk down memory lane to share just why their venue has had such lasting power.
EMBRACING THEATRICAL ROOTS
In the early days of the Denver Center for the Performing Arts, special events to benefit the organization were held inside the theatres of the Helen Bonfils Theatre Complex. Seeing an opportunity to serve a greater number of people and organizations across the city, former DCPA Chairman and CEO Donald R. Seawell envisioned a multi-purpose event space built above the complex that he originally helped establish. The new space earned his namesake and opened its doors in 1998. It started out similar to many event spaces, touting its gorgeous ceiling architecture and views of the Rockies as major selling points. But as time went on, team members pushed the capabilities of the space, transforming it from a beautiful room to a place where the possibilities are endless.
“We function more like an actual theatre than an events space,” says Seawell Ballroom Technical Director Brook Nichols, who has worked in the Seawell Ballroom for 19 years. “Our catwalk has the same lighting and rigging capabilities as one of our performance spaces, so we always push our production quality to a new level.”
Thanks to the inspiration of DCPA’s Theatre Company, the Event Services team works tirelessly to produce high quality events with safety and wow factor being top of mind.
“We are incredibly lucky because our production team has access to resources and people with a varied skill set,” says Senior Manager, Event Services Tara Miller. “You can’t find a group with such a unique production background anywhere else and it shows.”
Having expertise, creativity and excitement in one place has made it easy to problem-solve on the fly and always push the limit of what they can execute.
Compared to traditional event spaces and ballrooms, the structure of both the space itself and the team running it inspire the unconventional.
“The quality of events is unparalleled here. Try comparing having a gala in a beige, windowless room to performers literally dangling from the ceiling above you,” says Events Manager Savanna Campbell. “As an event planner, being closely connected to my team makes me feel capable of pulling anything off – literally.”
GAINING A REPUTATION
By creating a unique environmental and experience for every client, the DCPA Events team set a standard that continues to climb higher.
“We’ve gained a reputation for our production value, so people have begun to book events with us specifically for that reason,” says Miller.
Coming at each event from a creative viewpoint first and foremost, the DCPA team thinks big and doesn’t have to feel limited with what they can offer their patrons.
“Instead of just choosing the number of tables we need in a room, I can take any idea to our team to bring to life,” says Events Manager Matt Leaver. “It’s our wonderland.”
As Denver has grown, so, too, has the client base. When word of mouth is key in a tight-knit city, every event holds the opportunity to create a buzz to draw in the next guest.
“You never know who’s going to be in attendance at any given event,” says Leaver. “If you can wow them from the start, they’ll be confident that you’ll be able to execute their dream event.”
But it’s not just about clients. In the two decades since the Seawell Ballroom opened, the Event Services team has developed lasting vendor partnerships. Together, they all create a support system that can offer a variety of services and expertise that solidify the ability to pull off nearly any request.
CULTIVATING A COMMUNITY
With roots in a nonprofit organization, it’s not surprising that Events Services team works hard to support other community-centric organizations. The Seawell Ballroom hosts dozens of fundraisers and galas every year that give back to important causes in the Mile High City.
“It feels really incredible to watch fundraisers from the sidelines and know that you’re doing your part,” says Leaver. “The events are so heartfelt and meaningful – I’ve teared up a few times in them!”
Having a deeper purpose inspires the team to make incredible experiences and drives the organizations to come back again and again.
“Our long-term clients value our relationships and skill level and trust that if they come back every year, we’ll always have something new to offer them,” says Miller. “We work to help each other and will do what it takes to accommodate each other’s needs.”
Throughout the venue’s history, the most important community the team has cultivated is its own. “I have never felt the intimacy and connection to an organization that has shown me a path and allowed me to develop my opportunities as I see fit,” says Event Technology Manager Tom Duffin. “When you have to spend so much time with your coworkers every day, it’s so special to have bosses who truly understand who I am and encourage me to grow.” This talented, driven group of people thrives together, and the success of the Seawell Ballroom is tied to their collective passion. “The value of our work is gauged by creating unforgettable moments, heightening emotions and creating real drama off the stage,” says Nichols. “Just knowing that someone will remember this day for the rest of their lives is a really incredible feeling.”
Events at the Seawell Ballroom show no signs of slowing, and with a talented staff on hand, that’s just how they want to keep it. “With every event, we get the satisfaction of overcoming challenge after challenge,” says Nichols. “The adrenaline of problem-solving drives me to keep pushing forward and discover something new every day.”
Carolyn Michaels is a copywriter for the Denver Center for the Performing Arts. Prior to joining the DCPA team, she worked in branding, copywriting and art direction for WORKHORSE 45, Greenhouse Partners and Moxie Sozo.