Salida and Denver’s Art District on Santa Fe Drive were named Colorado’s first Colorado Creative Districts and both were awarded $15,000 in grants to attract artists while Ridgway and Telluride were two of five locations named as Prospective Creative Districts. Each will receive $8,000 and a customized package of technical assistance to enhance the probability they will be certified as Colorado Creative Districts in the future.
“Colorado is filled with vibrant centers of commerce, culture and creativity, and is a magnet for creative workers,” Hickenlooper said. “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.”
“I am speechless, really,” Ridgway Mayor Pat Willits said. “This is such a good fit for Ridgway. The community came together to apply for this and I think it helps consolidate our community’s identity.”
Passed in 2001, House Bill 1031 encourages the formation of Creative Districts in communities for the purpose of attracting creative entrepreneurs, artists and visitors by showcasing local culture, artistic organizations, events and unique amenities.
Along with Ridgway and Telluride, the Longmont Arts and Entertainment District, Downtown Pueblo, and Denver’s River North Art District were also named Prospective Creative Districts. Forty-four different districts from 25 counties applied for the designation. Downtown Montrose through it’s Downtown Development Authority was among the applicants, but was not successful.
With the Creative District program relatively new, applying for the designation required a lot of work, said Ridgway Town Councilmember John Clark, and the entire Ouray County community pulled together to get the work done.
“In the time that I’ve been here, it’s been amazing to see how many creative people there are in Ridgway,” Clark said. “Our committee was a great force in all of this. What is really cool is this was a countywide effort. Everybody hunkered down and got to work. It was really exciting to see that an inter-community effort that put this together was able to succeed.”
For Telluride, Mayor Stu Fraser agreed that it took a lot of work applying for the designation and said the recognition by the state further defines Telluride’s identity as a hub for all kinds of arts. In 2009 and 2010, Telluride was awarded the state’s prestigious Governor’s Arts Award for its commitment to the arts.
“This is something we are all very excited about,” Fraser said. “Art and culture is such a major part of what we do here. Art is all around us and people are doing things here that are totally unique and creative.”
Both Ridgway and Telluride will soon be finalizing plans for the use of the funding.
“We are looking forward to make good use of this and go for full designation next year,” Clark said.
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