Durango has a new title to stuff in its stocking: Certified Creative District, joining 22 other towns across the state, including Mancos, Telluride and Salida.
The certification will enable Durango to go after grants and other funding to help improve infrastructure, develop events, install public art and even implement affordable housing, as some other districts have done. But, most importantly, the designation will help brand Durango as a unique and desirable place to live and visit, and in so doing, spur and diversify the local economy.
"Creative districts have proven to be an important economic development tool in Colorado,” Bill Carver, president of the Durango Creative District, said. “Events and placemaking activities attract visitors and enhance the quality of life for residents, while creative businesses add to the authenticity and unique character of Durango."
Overseen by Local First, the Creative District process kicked off in October 2018 with a meeting of more than 60 community members who resoundingly said “yes” to the idea. From there, a steering committee made up of representatives from various organizations, businesses and the City of Durango, began meeting regularly. The process snowballed, with hundreds of residents attending more than 30 meetings on topics ranging from shared visions to branding.
The DCD’s overriding mission is to unite, celebrate and expand the local creative economy while fostering collaboration, promotion, education and resources for creative endeavors.
“It’s exciting to unearth the core values of our creative community,” Hayley Kirkman, Interim Director of the Durango Creative Director, said.
Even before its designation, the DCD got its creative juices flowing with the recent Empty Storefront Project. “Six empty ground-floor spaces in Downtown now have an art installation ... This has beautified the vacant spaces and provides a great venue for local artists,” Tim Walsworth, executive director of the Durango Business Improvement District, said.
The district encompasses North Main, downtown, College Drive, Fort Lewis College and Bodo Park. The City of Durango is also on board, anteing up $40,000 in the 2020 budget for the DCD.
“Durango is a creative community – from visual and performing arts to craft beers and spirits to artisanal food, we appreciate inspired artistry,” City Councilor Barbara Noseworthy said. “This recognizes the importance of the creative economy to our community.”
The DCD will be headquartered in the Durango Arts Center. A ribbon-cutting and celebration is planned for late January. Stay tuned to durangocreativedistrict.org for details.
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