Ask a Bozeman musician about Frank and Jirina Cikan and they’ll tell you about a couple that have generously supported the arts in this community for more than a decade.

“This is great,” jazz bassist Kelly Roberti said this fall, looking around at a full house in the Cikans’ great room, “another night of music at the Cikans.”

Thirteen years ago, the Cikans agreed to help Chelsea Funk prepare for her upcoming student exchange to the Czech Republic. Her father, composer, professor and musician Eric Funk suggested his daughter learn a little of the language from the Cikans (who are Czech) before she left.

Then, the also agreed to host Funk and his musician friends — Roberti, Ann Tappan, Alan Fauque, Craig Hall and Alex Platt — for a fundraiser to help send Chelsea on her way.

The Cikans could not have predicted that one night of music on July 19, 1999, would place them at the center of Bozeman’s thriving music scene.

A couple weeks after the show, the phone rang. It was Tappan, requesting use of the space

for another concert. They said ‘yes.’

“Soon, people started calling us up,” Frank explained. “‘Could we have a concert in your house?’ We’ve never said no.”

“Even when we’re not here,” Jirina chimed in.

They just asked that whoever the musician is closes the door and cleans up a little of the mess.

At first, the concerts were mostly jazz. The Cikans were the organizational force, sending invitations, making appetizers and providing wine. When the red wine proved to be a problem for the white carpet, the Cikans, with some worry that it would change the room’s acoustics, replaced it with wood floor.

Folk and classical musicians soon followed the jazz musicians into the Cikans’ home

“We said ‘sure, bring it on,’” Frank said.

Now, they let the musicians do the planning, but provide the space and chairs as well as cleanup. They have never charged for the space. Any admission fees go directly to the musicians.

“People ask, ‘how do you feel if you don’t like this concert?’” Jirina said. “There is no concert you wouldn’t like.”

The Cikan House seats around 50 people comfortably on couches, chairs and the great room’s window seat. It’s small enough to feel intimate, yet not cramped. Frank, an architect, said he designed the soaring ceilings to his own aesthetic, not knowing at the time for what the space would be used.

“I would like total credit for the acoustics, but I can’t.” Frank said. “I just like the high ceilings.”

The Cikans happily host about three concerts each month.

“We like it a lot,” Frank said. “Otherwise we wouldn’t do it.”

Regulars come to each concert, knowing the quality of the musicians.

“They’ve had some unbelievable concerts in here,” said Nick Schmutz. “... literally people from all over the world who if you see in concert in a big setting it’s not half as powerful.”

“It’s almost like a private concert for yourself,” said regular Dave Tippett. “It puts the artists at ease and they connect with the audience better.”

It has become a sort of community gathering that provides the public a link to the lives of musicians, with each mingling with the crowd during intermission and after the show.

“The ice is melted,” Jirina said. “Everything is like it is at home.”

The Cikans are happy with their role in providing a venue in Bozeman and see no end to their own unique brand of backing musicians.

“I think people should support the arts,” Frank said. “It’s important. And not only music — all types of art. Without art, life would be really boring.”