Savoy Denver sets the bar in Denver | John Moore | Arts & Entertainment

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In 2023, Savoy Denver went from a bar to a star.

Still largely a secret space, this whimsical little gem at 2700 Arapahoe St. serves as a welcome home for local artists of any and all stripes to follow their creative bliss. And co-owners Meghan Frank and Buba Basishvili, who renovated and reopened the turn-of-the-century social hall in the Curtis Park neighborhood in 2021, say their visitors – and community partners – doubled this year.

At various hours or in various corners, you might come across a community-minded social dance. A blues tango festival. A BIPOC yoga session. A play putting Lady Macbeth on trial. A Japanese Art Festival.

The Savoy Denver, once a dilapidated old garage, is now a flexible arts-and-culture gathering place with, Frank believes, “its own innate curiosity about how to continue to cultivate, honor and celebrate artists in Denver.”

With a killer bar. One that kind of epitomizes what the Frank family had in mind when it bought the building in 2018, reconceived it and reopened it two years ago as an empathetic community space. When you walk up the stairs and take a left, that beautiful bar greets you like a warm hug.

Savoy denver Bar 2023 True West Awards

This bar at The Savoy was conceived by an all-woman architectural firm called the Swan Dive Design Studio.

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Before, you’d have to walk past the dusty lobby and through the entire ballroom before you’d come across a bar. Something about that just felt unwelcoming.

“We had a real interest in creating a flow that was not only conducive to the arts but would make people feel immediately in a social community space before they even entered the ballroom,” Frank said.

Which is the kind of thing only a bar can do. This one was conceived by an all-woman architectural firm called the Swan Dive Design Studio.

2. Theatre Artibus The Pâstisserie Savoy Denver

From left: Meghan Frank, Buba Basishvili and Tiffany Ogburn in Theatre Artibus’ ‘The Pâstisserie,’ which was performed at the Savoy Denver in September 2023. 

Just beyond that bar is the main performing space, which is home to the couple’s own theater company, Theatre Artibus, and a whole host of partners that include the annual Denver Fringe Festival; Jeff Campbell’s Emancipation Theater; a rogue 14-piece string orchestra called Sphere Ensemble; and Kiki House of Flora, which hosted its annual gala for the ballroom drag community themed after the world-famous MET Gala.

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This past year, the Savoy hosted fully staged productions of Local Theater Company’s “Undone, The Lady M Project,” Emancipation’s “Stories of Five Points,” its own fanciful look at the inherent dangers of nostalgia (“The Pâstisserie”) and several staged readings by the new Clover & Bee Productions.

The Savoy’s like-minded downstairs anchor tenants are the Platte Forum, which advances youth success through activism; and Alchemy Ritual Goods, which promotes the concept of the human collective.

“We have a good synergy of the entire building,” Frank said. 

4. Undone Local Theater Opening Night

Curtain call at opening night of Local Theater’s “Undone: The Lady M Project” at Savoy Denver, from left: Orion Carrington, Janet Feder, Abner Genece, Emilie O’Hara, Anne Penner, Chelsea Frye, Thadd Krueger and Matthew Schneck.

Frank and Basishvili grew up worlds apart. Basishvili was born in Tbilisi, in the Republic of Georgia, under the occupation of the Soviet Red Army. Frank grew up right here in Denver, graduating from Cherry Creek High School before criss-crossing the country exploring theater as an agent for social change.

Their worlds became one at an international training school for physical theater in Northern California, where they discovered they were kindred spirits in life, love and the possibilities of performance art. They married, settled in Denver and in 2017 formed Theatre Artibus (it means “of the arts” in Latin).

3. Triptych Denver Fringe

Grace Olinski and Amelia Corrada of ‘Triptych: A Shifting History of Inherent Femininity.’ The play was presented at Savoy Denver in June 2023 as part of the Denver Fringe Festival.

And Savoy Denver soon became their home. “It was vitally important,” Frank said, “to make sure that the space honored the character and history of the building and the neighborhood.”

Savoy Denver’s upcoming calendar is already booked into June. It includes a vintage variety show called “The King Penny Radio Show” (Dec. 13); “The 5 Points Nutcracker” (Dec. 22); the Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company’s fully staged production of the play “What the Constitution Means to Me” (Jan. 26-Feb. 11); and the world premiere of a play by Local Theater called “237 Virginia Avenue” (May 2-19).

“We are so privileged to be the stewards of this space,” Frank said.

Note: The True West Awards, now in their 23rd year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. Denver Gazette Senior Arts Journalist John Moore celebrates the Colorado theater community by revisiting 30 good stories from the past year without categories or nominations.

3. Theatre Artibus Megan Frank Buba Basishvili at The Savoy Denver 4

Theatre Artibus founders Meghan Frank and Buba Basishvili met as students at an international training school for physical theater in Northern California. They are pictured in the lobby of Savoy Denver, which they reopened in 2021.

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