CARBONDALE — An effort spearheaded by the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities has paid off with the town being chosen Monday to participate in the state’s new Creative District program for 2014-15.
The program was instituted by Colorado Creative Industries, a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
Carbondale began working on its creative plan last year, using signs to point the way and tell a little about the different creative industries, ranging from publishing, marketing and branding to local food production, culinary and healing arts, as well as artists and designers, and how they contribute to the community.
“These are great examples of how the arts create exciting places for people to live and visit,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a news release announcing the awards.
The designation comes with a $5,000 cash award for the next two years, plus in-kind support from the state to develop Carbondale’s plan.
CCAH has already been working to match the cash award, as required, including support from the town of Carbondale and private donors, CCAH Director Amy Kimberly said.
“We have a rich heritage of ranching and the arts, which fits the vision of the state,” said Kimberly.
Several stakeholders, including local business, artists, nonprofit organizations and town government, have produced a “wayfinding” map directing people to different points of interest that tie into the creative theme.
“There is much energy around communities that define themselves through art,” Kimberly explained. “The 21st century is all about creativity, which is something Carbondale has utilized for years to keep itself vibrant.”
The “district” itself takes in the area of town south of the Rio Grande Trail, and up Third Street to and including the Third Street Center, where several art galleries, dance and performing arts venues are located. The historic Thompson House, which was recently acquired by the town and is open for occasional tours led by the Mount Sopris Historical Society, is also included in the district.
“The town’s rich heritage is a huge part of this, and is something that can be a huge draw in the future,” Kimberly said.
Other communities chosen for the Creative District program this year are Crested Butte, Mancos, Crestone, Colorado Springs, Manitou Springs, Fort Collins and Evergreen.
Paonia, Hotchkiss and Crawford, which are situated along the West Elk Scenic Byway that starts on the north end in Carbondale, were jointly selected in the first round of creative district designations. CCAH has already been collaborating with those communities through artist exchanges and other programs, Kimberly said.
CCAH celebrates its 40th anniversary this year, and produces the annual Carbondale Mountain Fair arts festival, which turns 43 this summer, taking place July 25-27.
CCAH has also been at the forefront of establishing the First Fridays art walks and community celebration, The Artist Beat, Summer of Music Concert Series and the new Music and Movies events.
In 2012, Carbondale was also nominated for and received the Governor’s Arts Award.