With movie theaters, art galleries, a lively bar scene, theatrical productions and live-music venues, it would seem the Colorado Springs social scene has a lot to offer young professionals.
But Murray Ross, artistic director for Theatreworks, hears one common complaint from the young professionals:
"It's that there's nothing to do," Ross said. "What does that mean? Yes, they can come to theater sometimes, and yes, they can have some really good music sometimes, but there really is no scene here, and I think young professionals want that. It's not just going to the theater. It's going somewhere to talk about it and feeling in the mix. We don't have a downtown. There isn't a critical mass for a scene, and that's a shame."
Some organizations and businesspeople are working to do more to create that scene. The Downtown Partnership is trying to address issues identified as important to young professionals.
And the newly renovated Ivywild School - home to the wildly popular Bristol Brewing Co. and other enterprises such as a bakery and charcuterie - has a base of young professionals drawn to its urban vibe and creative events.
Mike Bristol, one of the forces behind the renovation, didn't get involved with the project to cater to any one demographic. Instead, he's focusing on building and promoting alternative options to traditional entertainment. Create a venue first, he believes, and you'll draw people of all ages, which can invigorate the young professionals scene.
"I want to create a space that's inviting, and quality service and a really great product," he said. "That should be the draw, whether that's to a young professional or an older person or a minority, or male or female."
Besides the Ivywild School being a social hotspot, Bristol wanted to bring more art to the venue, another way to attract groups that include young professionals.
Two young professionals - Brett and Lauren Andrus - are starting art classes at Ivywild through a new venture, Modboco. They own the downtown art galleries Modbo and S.P.Q.R.
Ross said the Colorado Springs theater scene has expanded over the years, providing more fare than the occasional Broadway musical that comes to the Pikes Peak Center.
Jon Eddy, the on-field emcee and director of marketing and promotions for the Sky Sox, has been working to sell young professionals on baseball. Since he began working for the organization five years ago, he has seen an influx of young professionals at the games and said it's a great way to socialize and network.
"It's a valid nightlife option, and anybody that wants to be out and chat with anybody with anything, we're the ultimate schmooze location," Eddy said. "You come to a ballpark, you have an immediate third party and a common ground. If you talk to somebody and say, 'Oh, I love the Sky Sox,' it's much different than, 'Oh, I love bar X,' whatever that may be."
Music is often a big draw for young professionals, and while there is a small music scene here, John Stewart would like to see more.
Stewart, a 26-year-old audio engineer and DJ, returned to his hometown of Colorado Springs after attending college in Dallas because he and his business partners received an investment from the Peak Venture Group to start a record label, High Society.
While Stewart is happy in Colorado Springs, he said the city needs more venues for live music. The World Arena holds 8,099 people. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Black Sheep holds about 500. Stewart argues there aren't many venues in between. Certainly, there's little to compare with the Fox Theater in Boulder or the Ogden in Denver. Building these moderately sized venues will help grow the live music scene, Stewart said.
Ross said no matter how many bits and pieces of arts and entertainment crop up, they need a glue to hold the scene together and make it more appealing to young professionals.
"Create a scene, make sure that what we have is really good - is really quality," Ross said. "Then, they get all the advantages of the vibrancy of a big city in an extraordinarily beautiful location."