Carbondale to host 2016 Creative Industries Summit

Jessica Cabe
Ernesto, a bison made of metal and wood by James Burnes of New Mexico, lives in Carbondale permanently thanks to an aggressive public arts program in the town, which is a designated state Creative District.
Courtesy Photo / Post Independent File

Carbondale is making a name for itself for having one of the most vibrant art scenes in the state. The latest example of the town’s place on the art map will bring around 400 Coloradans to Carbondale for the 2016 Colorado Creative Industries Summit.

The summit will take place May 4-6, 2016, featuring workshops, art, lectures and networking opportunities. Attendees will include nonprofit workers, artists, government officials and entrepreneurs. Carbondale beat out six other contenders: Aurora, Crested Butte, Preston, Evergreen, Manitou Springs and Mancos.

“This will bring some visibility to the great art happenings we have,” said Deb Colley, operations manager of the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities, which is responsible for bringing the summit to town. “It’s certainly going to bring a lot of energy and commerce, and there’s a lot of diverse information sharing that happens.”

This year’s summit took place April 22-24 in Fort Collins. The National Endowment for the Arts was present, as well as Colorado Poet Laureate Joseph Hutchison, Lt. Gov. Joseph Garcia and national touring group Head for the Hills.

Issues discussed this year included artist live/work spaces and projects that would add to the vibrancy of Colorado’s Creative Districts, of which Carbondale is one.

Next year’s conference in Carbondale will be based at The Orchard with satellite events all over town. Colley said she hopes to highlight the Launchpad, the Third Street Center, Dolores Way Creative Zone and local businesses downtown. While there are no concrete plans for events just yet, she said the CCAH is working with Colorado Creative Industries to plan out all the details.

“Dance hasn’t really had a big presence at the summits, so it would be cool to highlight that more,” she said.

This will be the first time Carbondale hosts the summit. Colley said the idea to submit a proposal came last year when Colorado Creative Industries hosted a Colorado Creates Grant panel at the Third Street Center.

“They mentioned, ‘This is a great place. Do you think you could host a summit?’” Colley said. “And at the time, we thought, ‘I don’t know, that’s a big undertaking.’”

But after Carbondale was named a Colorado Creative District last June, CCAH Executive Director Amy Kimberly started calling around to hotels and venues to see if hosting the summit would be conceivable. She found out the town could handle the job after all, so she put in a proposal in February and was told in April that Carbondale had won the bid.

Colley said in addition to the commerce that 400 visitors would bring to Carbondale, the summit itself will enrich the town’s art scene and serve its local artists with relevant workshops and lectures. Plus, the summit brings in outside media, gallery owners and other movers and shakers in the Colorado art world. Hosting the event in Carbondale will give locals a chance to connect with people from all over the state.

“We’re excited that they love our town this much,” Colley said of Colorado Creative Industries. “They just seem so on top of the art scenes, especially in Denver. They have access to so much art, yet they come here. They really love Carbondale.”

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