Activism

DIY Is Back: City Allows Rhinoceropolis and Glob to Reopen

A new wheelchair ramp outside Glob and Rhinoceropolis.
A new wheelchair ramp outside Glob and Rhinoceropolis. Kyle Harris
In December 2016, longstanding DIY venues Rhinoceropolis and Glob were shuttered by the Denver Fire Department over safety issues. More than two years later, on January 9, 2019, the City of Denver has given the Brighton Boulevard spaces permission to reopen.

That's according to John Golter, the operator of Glob, who has led efforts to remodel both places, including negotiating with city agencies and working countless hours to bring the warehouses up to code.

"I worked over the weekend, finished everything up," Golter explains. "I had my inspections on Monday and Tuesday. We had our final one on Tuesday. I went down yesterday and signed a few more papers."

Golter says Rhinceropolis will reopen as a music venue, though people won't be allowed to live there. Glob will reopen as a private space.

The city's decision to close the spaces came days after a fire burned through the Ghost Ship warehouse in Oakland, killing 36 people. Artists who had been living in Rhinoceropolis and Glob were made homeless during the eviction. The city offered them temporary shelter, but they declined.

Film and arts collectives, bands and independent music promoters all scrambled for new spaces to host their events. But the arts scene held out hope that the venues would reopen if brought up to code.

With input from the arts community, the city organized the Safe Occupancy Program to encourage people operating DIY spaces to allow inspectors inside to assess whether they were up to code. The city made $300,000 available to groups trying to bring their spaces into compliance.

The team behind Rhinoceropolis is meeting on Sunday to discuss next steps, including when it will host the venue's first event. An opening-night party could be held as early as January 18, Golter says.

Golter praises city officials such as Scott Prisco and Jill Golich with Denver Community Planning and Development, as well as RedLine Contemporary Art Center executive director Louise Martorano, for their help in bringing the buildings into compliance. 

"We are mopping right now and just finishing up painting. The heavy shit is done," says Golter.
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Kyle Harris has been Westword’s Culture Editor since 2016, writing about the arts, music and film.
Contact: Kyle Harris