Six New Colorado Creative Districts

Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) and the Boettcher Foundation announced the certification of six new Creative Districts into the Colorado Creative Districts Program on June 16, 2016. The new Creative Districts are Breckenridge Arts District, Carbondale Creative District, Crested Butte Creative District, Fort Collins Creative District, Golden Triangle Creative District and Mancos Creative District.

In Corey Jones’s article, Colorado’s Six New “Creative Districts” Will Share $240K From the State, he states that the Colorado Creative Districts Program “rewards communities like these across the state that have made big strides to support their artists and creative businesses.” One of the benefits of being a part of the program is that the Creative Districts will share $240,000 from the state, which “come[s] from gambling funds, provides general financial support and also cover[s] the cost of other needs like technical and marketing assistance as well as leadership training.”

With the Boettcher Foundation no longer providing funds to the Creative Districts, Colorado Creative Industries has had to strategically disperse the funds. Jones interviewed Colorado Creative Industries Director Margaret Hunt, who said, “As the number of certified districts was growing, the pool of candidates was taking up a lot of our resources and time. Our finite resources did not match the increased demand so we had to think about it differently.” The financial stability is a big factor for CCI when choosing Colorado’s Creative Districts. In Jones’ article he states, “There are now 18 total, and Hunt says the bar for applicants continues to rise. For example, the program now looks for districts that have paid staff as opposed to just volunteers and involvement in the real estate market.”

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In the recent year, a panel of 15, including representatives from the Colorado Department of Transportation, Colorado Tourism Office, and the Colorado Innovation Network reviewed applications and visited sites of the eight finalists. Some factors when choosing the Creative Districts include: management and planning strategies, district characteristics, and community support. One surprising candidate was the Crested Butte Creative District, which is under the scope of the town government. Jones interviewed Michael Yerman, Crested Butte’s planning director, who stated, “That’s huge because now the creative community is directly making recommendations to our town council. Instead of ordering a bike rack or a park bench from a catalog, why don’t we hire a local creative to design and build one for the same price? So that money is then recycled into the community.”

The Creative Districts will remain certified for up to five years. In this time of support, hopefully these Creative Districts can continue to boost the creative economy, further proving the worth of the creative industries in Colorado. For more information on the Colorado Creative Districts Program, visit the Colorado Creative Industries site. Districts that are interested in being certified as a Creative District should visit the online guide, Call Yourself Creative.

The in-depth look into the Colorado Creative Districts Program was written by Corey Jones and appeared on Colorado Public Radio.