DURANGO, Colo. – Downtown Durango has today (Mar. 9, 2012) been named one of eight Emerging Creative Districts by the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade through the Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) division. Each Emerging District will receive $2,000 and technical assistance to further their district planning and development as an “arts community.”
Durango’s celebration comes as part of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s announcement today of the formal certification of two new Colorado Creative Districts: Downtown Salida and Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe. These districts will each receive a $15,000 grant and assistance to attract artists, creative entrepreneurs and visitors as a strategy to infuse new energy and innovation and enhance the economic and civic capital of the community.
“Colorado is filled with vibrant centers of commerce, culture and creativity, and is a magnet for creative workers,” Hickenlooper said in a prepared statement. “The formation of Creative Districts provides visitors and residents with an opportunity to participate and invest in the arts, while contributing to the economic vitality of the region and attracting creative entrepreneurs and artists.”
Forty-four different districts from 25 Colorado counties applied for the CCI designation. In addition to the two Certified Creative Districts, five applicants were designated as Prospective Creative Districts and will each receive $8,000 and a customized package of technical assistance to enhance the likelihood that they will be certified in the future. Eight were designated as Emerging Creative Districts, including Durango.
“We have been talking about forming a ‘Creative District’ in Durango since 2007 when then-Denver Mayor Hickenlooper visited here for an exploratory symposium called ‘Strong Arts, Strong Community,’” said Bob Kunkel, executive director, Durango Business Improvement District (BID), which submitted the grant application. “We are at the beginning of this process and are gratified that CCI has recognized our potential. We look forward to working with them to eventually become a Certified Creative District.”
In 2011, Hickenlooper signed legislation that encourages the formation of Creative Districts in communities for the purposes of attracting creative entrepreneurs and artists to a community, infusing new energy and innovation, which in turn will enhance the economic and civic capital of the community; creating hubs of economic activity, thereby enhancing the area as an appealing place to live, visit and conduct business; attracting visitors; revitalizing and beautifying communities; providing a focal point for celebrating and strengthening a community’s unique identify; and showcasing cultural and artistic organizations, events and amenities.
The legislation requires that CCI offer a “helping hand” to communities wanting to use the arts as organizing principles in the creation of vibrant local economies. The Emerging and Prospective Districts will receive special technical assistance – information, access to consultants, conferences, and more – to help them do this as effectively as possible.
“People might think $2,000 is a small award in the scope of things,” said Sheri Rochford Figgs, Durango Arts Center director. “But in truth, because of all the technical assistance CCI will provide us, we actually are receiving much more. We plan to leverage the award as much as possible.”
Beyond Durango, Emerging Creative Districts for 2012 are Downtown Parker, City of Trinidad, Downtown Greeley and the University District, Downtown Colorado Springs, 40 West Arts District in Lakewood, Aurora Arts District and North Fork Valley in Delta County.
Prospective Creative Districts named are Longmont Arts & Entertainment District, Town of Ridgway, Downtown Pueblo, Town of Telluride and Denver’s River North Art District.
Applications were reviewed by a panel of professionals with experience in arts and creative industries, city planning, economic development and business development. Panelists assessed applications based primarily on district characteristics, management and planning, and community support.
For additional information on the CCI program, visit www.coloradocreativeindustries.org. For additional information about the Durango Business Improvement District and its projects, visit www.downtowndurango.org or call 970.375.5067.
The Durango Business Improvement District was formed in 1997 with a goal and mission to support businesses within the District by assisting with special event marketing, providing research on topics of concern to the District (facilities, special events, best practices), planning and development of new facilities, and providing capital budget for equipment that enhances business in the District. Funding is generated by a 2 mill levy on property owners within the district, with additional marketing dollars contributed by the City of Durango and Durango Area Tourism Office.