Celebrating Creative Connections
By Alesha Damerville
Image is copyright Jordan Matter from his “Dancers Among Us” book
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS- In June 2017, Steamboat Springs joined twenty other districts in receiving a Colorado Creative District Designation from Colorado Creative Industries (CCI). The mission of CCI is to recognize communities contributing to Colorado’s economy through creativity, culture and arts.
“The review panel felt Steamboat had an authentic and unique story stemming from Old West history and growing to include arts organizations like Perry Mansfield and Strings, that have history and long-term commitment,” said Christine Costello project manager of the creative districts for CCI. “We felt partnerships with the local government were strong and pointed efforts to save and preserve historic structures and repurpose them for the arts. Everyone agreed Steamboat Springs has an authentic love for the arts evidenced by vibrancy in dance, visual, music, artist studios, murals, public art and greater city commitment.”
Districts must meet a number of important criteria in order to become a Certified Colorado Creative District. Communities must be the site of concentration of artistic and cultural activity. They must also be engaged in promotion, preservation and educational aspects of art and culture. This designation promotes districts to attract artists, visitors and creative entrepreneurs to their community, showcase cultural and artistic organizations and improve the quality of life of Colorado’s residents.
“Varying sectors of the community worked toward a goal of elevating the art community. Receiving a Colorado Creative District Designation aligns us with other communities in Colorado, such as Breckenridge and Crested Butte, that are broadening creativity,” said Kim Keith, executive director for the Steamboat Springs Arts Council. The benefits of becoming a designated district are vast; the Steamboat Springs Arts Council has received a grant and matching funds from community support, allowing for increased connection in our community through arts and culture, history and heritage, economic development and tourism.
In the last five years, Colorado's creative districts have led transformations in their communities. Two districts have initiated affordable live/work housing projects for the creative sector in their community and at least six more have started the conversation around affordable housing for artists, Steamboat Springs included. Colorado's 21 creative districts generate creative industry earnings and there are nearly 11,000 creative jobs. Job growth in the creative sector is a full percentage higher in creative districts.
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