Does Your Real Estate Serve Your Current Strategy?

Bloomberg recently had a piece about how the Girls Scouts of Colorado recently opened a space in Denver known as DreamLab, envisioned to be a third space for girls.

As spaces for young people to hang out grow scarcer, and the mental health of young women, especially, reaches unprecedented lows, the Girl Scouts is investing in properties girls can make their own.

“We really want the Girl Scout DreamLab to be their third place,” after home and school, said Anne Smith, senior vice president of property strategy for Girl Scouts of the USA

Two other DreamLab spaces are under construction in NJ and LA and more may be on the way based on how Covid has apparently impacted Girl Scout operations and use of physical spaces.

“Troops found that the traditional public spaces they’d relied on to host meetings, like church basements and libraries, were getting harder to access. Girl Scout staff were embracing remote work like the rest of the workforce, leaving offices empty. Some Girl Scout councils started selling properties, as membership dues dropped.


Data showed that the best-utilized spaces were those within a 20 to 30 minute drive from the majority of their membership, for example. “There were a lot of different data points that show that our current model wasn’t meeting the needs of our girls,” said Smith.

The Denver DreamLab occupies about 4,000 square feet of leased space in a new property chosen for its prime location: It’s within 15 miles of nearly 30% of Girl Scouts of Colorado members as of 2020, and by 2026 it’s projected to be within 15 miles of more than 150,000 girls between the ages of 5 and 17.

I wondered if this might serve as an example or inspiration for arts organizations in some way. I don’t know exactly how at this point.  Back in January 2022, the Long Wharf Theater announced that after nearly 60 years operating in permanent spaces around New Haven, CT they were going to pursue being an itinerant company so that they could provide services closer to the communities they hoped to serve.  So there is something of a precedent for arts organizations disinvesting themselves of their spaces.

While there are performance, rehearsal and offices spaces that have been offered to arts organizations similar to how it seems DreamLab is being offered to Girl Scout groups, I don’t know that many arts organizations who have utilized these resources have done so with the intentional goal of being itinerant so much as adapting to the opportunities being made available.

It may not seem like a big distinction on paper, but you could say the same about Vine, Instagram, and Tiktok. While Vine seemed to be everywhere for awhile, it fell out of favor relatively quickly while other similar apps thrived.


About Joe Patti

I have been writing Butts in the Seats (BitS) on topics of arts and cultural administration since 2004 (yikes!). Given the ever evolving concerns facing the sector, I have yet to exhaust the available subject matter. In addition to BitS, I am a founding contributor to the ArtsHacker ( website where I focus on topics related to boards, law, governance, policy and practice.

I am also an evangelist for the effort to Build Public Will For Arts and Culture being helmed by Arts Midwest and the Metropolitan Group. (

My most recent role was as Executive Director of the Grand Opera House in Macon, GA.

Among the things I am most proud are having produced an opera in the Hawaiian language and a dance drama about Hawaii's snow goddess Poli'ahu while working as a Theater Manager in Hawaii. Though there are many more highlights than there is space here to list.


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