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Adjusting to New Ways of Life

So far 2020 has been a year for the books! As you know, the topic that has been consuming most everyone’s lives during the past few weeks of March has been the coronavirus COVID-19. Like many other businesses in Ouray and in Colorado, we have been adjusting to new ways of life. The health and safety of our community has always been and will continue to be our primary concern. That is why the Board of Directors of The Wright Opera House, in accordance with Governor Polis’s mandated restrictions, determined to postpone our March and April programming so that we may all responsibly practice social distancing. As the situation progresses, we plan to reevaluate our programming for May and beyond and will, of course, keep you well informed. 

Although our programming is postponed for March and April, our hope is that the films can be rescheduled for later dates so that the community still gets a chance to view and enjoy them! We have an exciting lineup of spring events and activities to look forward to from our new Honky Tonk Nights and special 4th Friday Foreign Film screenings to the Ouray International Film Festival and more.

We want to take this time to say thank you for your support in our decision making, and for continuing to stay connected with us during this unique time. The Wright is excited to continue our tradition of bringing arts, education, and social events to the Ouray area! 

Make sure to follow us on our social media platforms where we are sharing various art platforms and virtual forms of entertainment to enjoy during this time.

The Wright Opera House

Leadership at the Wright

The Wright Opera House’s Executive team for 2020:

• Scott Pankow, President
• Kate Jones, Vice President
• Chuck Anderson, Treasurer
• Marc Hitchcox, Secretary

A Word from the President

Quarterly Update from the Desk of the President of the WHO Board of Directors

Needless to say, that it has been a very interesting time these past few weeks for not only our country but also for The Wright Opera House.  We have had to make many decisions regarding upcoming events as well as current programming all within the advent of COVID-19. Keeping at the forefront of all our decisions is the health and welfare of our staff and valued patrons, like you. All our decisions are thoughtful and will impact our long-term planning.

First, all April programming has been canceled. Second, we have decided to reschedule our Ouray International Film Festival. We have moved it from June to September 18-20th. We are excited about our very first Film Festival. Currently over 500 entries and 31 countries are represented. This leads us to believe that we will have a wonderful opportunity to bring worldwide film culture to Ouray County. The board will meet next week to make decisions on programing going forward, monitoring the CoVID-19 situation and when we will continue our regularly scheduled events.

We are excited to announce a couple of new hires at the Wright. First of all, we have hired a new marketing contractor in Ms. Emily Ayers. Emily has vast marketing experience both locally and regionally along with social media expertise.  We will really need her in the near future as we “ramp up” with our future programming. 

We have also hired a tavern manager in Mr. John Morris.  John has a culinary arts degree along with mixology from Johnson and Wales.  The future plan is to have the Wright Tavern open for not only for events but a full-time social experience. 

I had a colleague of mine from the Arts Center in Grand Junction send me this quote: “In these dark days that we are in, I feel so strongly that art is here to comfort us, to inspire us and to heal us” -Jan Rudolph de Lorm.  I, too, agree that in this era of social distancing, it is becoming more apparent that we long and yearn for the time when we can come together, share a theatrical, musical or any other entertainment-type of experience in which we laugh, cry and feel moved as one. That is the magic of live performance, the magic we are looking forward to bringing back to our patrons. That is the time we are preparing for here at the Wright, the time when we can safely and confidently bring back our patrons to celebrate together the gifts of arts and entertainment.  

Until then stay safe and Godspeed!

Scott Pankow
Board President of The Wright Opera House

FWOH Welcome New Treasurer

The Friends of the Wright Opera House (FWOH) are excited to announce that Chuck Anderson has joined the board as treasurer. 

Chuck is a Colorado native raised in Windsor CO and graduated from the University of Northern Colorado in 1975 with a BS degree in accounting.  He began his professional career with a local CPA firm in Greeley and was admitted as a partner in 1981. In 1999 he and his wife Mary, also a CPA, opened their own CPA and financial services firm.

Chuck has been involved in numerous community organizations as a board member and officer including UNC Foundation, Greeley/Weld Chamber of Commerce, Kiwanis Club, and Greeley/Weld Senior Foundation.

Chuck and Mary moved from Greeley to the Pleasant Valley area in October 2009 as the first step in their retirement plan.  Thanks to the advancement of the remote office concept, they continued to serve their clients which also included making “house calls” on various trips back to the front range.  They began an annual process of transitioning their clients to a Denver CPA firm in the fall of 2014 and completed the process in September 2017 when they officially “semi-retired” – since they have retained all of their elderly clients.

Chuck and Mary have four children and four grandchildren who they love spending time with.

New Faces at the Wright

Emily Ayers, Marketing Director

Emily Ayers, Marketing Director - Emily is a Long Beach, CA native who moved to Colorado at the end of 2018 with a desire to slow things down in a small town. Emily has a background in journalism and a passion for digital storytelling that she has used to fuel her career in marketing for a range of organizations and businesses. With a focus on digital marketing, Emily strives to bring a fresh perspective and outlook on the best way to share information with patrons and the community. Emily is currently a marketing professional for a local healthcare system and continues to work with local businesses and organizations on their marketing strategies. You might catch Emily’s byline in local publications as she enjoys writing about travel, food and small businesses when she can.

John Morris Tavern Manager

John Morris, Tavern Manager

John Morris, Tavern Manager - John has worked in the Culinary Arts field throughout Colorado for the past seven years in both fine dining establishments and “mom-and-pop” restaurants where he has honed his skills as a chef. He started his culinary career in Denver, Colorado where he attended Johnson and Wales University and graduated with his Associates Degree in Culinary Arts. During his time at Johnson and Wales he worked at the Early Bird Restaurant, Table Six Restaurant and Lou’s Food Bar. He then joined the team at Franca Food and Wine in Boulder; cooking and serving the first of five courses that were offered at this James Beard Award winning establishment. John moved on to the Ship Rock Grille, located in the visitors center at Red Rocks Amphitheater in Morrison, the Palace Restaurant in his home town of Durango and worked for multiple assisted living facilities and nursing homes throughout Colorado. When he isn’t outdoors, hiking or collecting rocks and minerals, he works as a Retail Associate in multiple souvenir shops located in Durango and Silverton. John is extremely excited for the opportunity to work as the

Thank You, Mark!

On December 31, 2019 long-time Wright Board Member, Mark Orgren, rotated off the BoD. Mark began donating and volunteering his time at the Wright in 2010. He then joined the Wright Board in 2013, and worked non-stop as chairman of the Building Committee to remodel, rebuild and renovate our beautiful building. His volunteered time and efforts included, but are in no way limited to removing plaster from the North wall bricks, tearing down the balcony/store room on the north wall for more seating in the auditorium, he andMike Hakola installed the light in the auditorium, volunteering his trailer for months/years to haul away trash and building debris, corralling volunteers to trench the alley in order to lay new electrical lines, cleaning & painting the apartments and retail space of Wright Next Door, hands on involvement with virtually every aspect of the building and remodel of the Wright and the Tavern, use of his backhoe for excavating the basement, taking a youtube course in plumbing to install bathroom and laundry room in the apartments. And let’s not forget all the 4th of July & Yule Night parade floats that Mark was a part of! His automobiles and trailers have made a consistent appearance in these town-wide celebrations.

Not only did Mark put in countless hours at the Wright, he found many people who were willing to give equipment/labor or give us breaks on equipment/labor.

Thank you, Mark, for all that you have given. Your time, energy & heart will, indeed, stand for another 130 years.

Enda Junkins

Q&A with Volunteer Enda Junkins

  • 1. How long have you been volunteering at The Wright and what made you decide to start?

    Enda: I have been volunteering at the Wright from the time it was purchased by the Friends of the Wright. In the beginning, there were just a few of us doing everything. We helped clean and paint and decorate. I also took tickets and sold concessions and helped prepare for performances. I did whatever was needed.

  • 2. What events have you been involved in at The Wright?

    Enda:  I have been involved in many, many Wright events. As mentioned above I have taken tickets for concerts, plays, and anything else where help was needed. As things have become more specialized my involvement has been more limited as opposed to in the beginning when a small group did everything. But I have participated as a performer in many of the melodramas as well as helping backstage.

  • 3. What has been the most rewarding part about volunteering and the thing that keeps you coming back?

    Enda:  I am completely devoted to the Wright and being involved with it in a personal capacity is very satisfying. Its historical place in the town matters to me as I have an advanced degree in history and believe history needs to be preserved. I also believe in tradition and the Wright has plenty of that. I find it rewarding to interact with the people who also volunteer and with the people who come to enjoy the events. The Wright had a major role in town in the late 1880s and has been restored to that place of importance with its rebirth and renovation. All of this keeps me coming back. It allows me to interact with and give back to the community.

  • 4. Tell us more about you, your background, career, etc.

    Enda: While I have an advanced degree in history, my career has been in the field of psychotherapy. I have a degree in social work and currently still see clients as a licensed LCSW. I have been a therapist for over 30 years and have found it to be exactly the right career for me.  I enjoy working with people and helping them through whatever issues they bring to me. I have training in many types of psychotherapy but have specialized for over 20 years in helping people use laughter to work through things if they are willing to do so. 

    I have been a national and international professional speaker on the topic of laughter for the last 20 years as well. Laughter can and does play a vital role the majority of human life and topically can be applied to almost any area of concern. You could learn more on my website

    I am from Dallas,Texas where I lived for over 30 years. I visited Ouray as a teenager on vacation and as an adult brought emotionally disturbed teens here on vacation. I was the Program Director for a therapeutically based group home for teenage girls. As my career moved into private practice, I started coming annually to Ouray to jeep for a week and finally bought my house. I rented the house for several years until 2006 when I moved here. I belong here and never plan to leave.

  • 5. What do you think The Wright brings to the community of Ouray and beyond? 

    Enda: I believe the Wright brings the arts to the community in a very personal way. It is my hope that it will continue to do so for years to come while maintaining its roots in the past, never succumbing to the impersonal aspects of modernization.

Building updates Tavern

Building News

Kit Meckle has been on the Wright Board of Directors since February, 2019. However, he has been involved with the renovation and restoration since 2015. With Mark Orgren rotating off the Board, Kit has agreed to be the new Building Committee Chairman. He has several items of note on his punch list:

  • continue to pursue information and cost estimates on the structural reinforcement project

  • finalize our report to the State this spring to complete our first SHF grant

  • begin writing a new SHF grant proposal for fall submission

  • solicit cost estimates for the rear balcony/stair project

  • finish out the tavern space

  • convert to natural gas service in the WND (currently propane)

  • revise the WOH Master Plan to include the WND

  • solicit cost estimates to (re)install a bathroom/concession area on the theater level

The Ouray International Film Fest Forges Ahead

We are excited to announce that the first annual Ouray International Film Festival (OIFF) will be held September 18-20. From Friday evening until Sunday night, the OIFF will host a variety of events from film screenings to panel discussions to parties and award ceremonies. These are films you won’t see anywhere else, and we’ve curated a surprise lineup of movies that will be announced later in the year. Whether you’re passing through town and just want to attend our Friday night gala and Director’s Spotlight Event, or if you want to participate in the full weekend of cinema programming, we have options for you. 

For a list of festival pass options and to learn more, please click here.

2020 Melodrama Preview: Little Nell

If there ever was a classic melodrama this is it! Published by John Nash in 1940, Little Nell  has all  the ingredients for a crazy and fun-filled evening. Come and commiserate with the large, awkward wig-bearing heroine, boo the slinky, mustachioed villain and cheer for the affable, gangly, but oh-so-slow hero in this "Marry me or I'll foreclose" old-time plot. Bring the whole family and let's laugh together! There is nothing quite like a melodrama to round out a summer evening in the mountains.



MAY 10: GOSPEL Sunday Lunch 
Gospel Sunday Lunch at the Wright is a new event where we are inviting everyone to enjoy music, food, drinks and time spent with the community. We are also asking everyone to bring a non-perishable item to be donated to the Ouray County Food Pantry. 

MAY 10: SunMat: DUMBO


The Wright's Honky Tonk Night’s will be an evening of Country and Western Music and Dancing. Lessons will kick off the night and then will end with the Honky Tonk! 



MAY 22: 4th Friday Foreign Film: MONOS


MAY 30: OCAA: Art Opening Reception - Teresa Johnson


SunMat = Sunday Matinee     WNM = Wednesday Night Movie

Event dates are subject to change due to governmental mandates regarding large gatherings.

Thank You to Our Donors

Without the support from Colorado’s large foundations and individual donors the Wright Opera House would be an unfulfilled dream for Ouray County and the many visitors who have enjoyed performances in this historic Opera House.

The initial State Historic Fund grant of $200,000 gave us the impetus to raise the money needed to purchase the building in 2011. The SHF has continued its financial support for the Wright with roof repair, installation of new electrical lines, repairing the foundation and upgrading the plumbing. The Friends of the Wright Opera House will be applying for another grant to repair our beautiful Meskar front.

Our Enterprise Zone Capital Campaign Project expired December 31, 2019. We are currently in the application process for our next project that will focus on economic development through increased programming and job creation. If approved by Region 10, the start date for this project will be towards the end of May, 2020. Please keep this date in mind when making your donations. If you have questions regarding your tax credits, please contact our treasurer, Chuck Anderson.

The Friends of the Wright Opera House and the many patrons of performing arts, educational programs, and community events are grateful to our Colorado Foundation benefactors; Gates Family Foundation, El Pomar Foundation, Telluride Foundation and Boetcher Foundation. Your benevolence fuels our creativity!

The Wright Opera House is a 501c3 nonprofit, operating a historic venue and premier performing arts organization located in the City of Ouray. It is supported by event fees and by generous donations. Click here to make a tax deductible donation to the Wright.