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Carbondale may be designated a ‘creative district’

John Colson
Post Independent Staff
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, Colorado – This town’s reputation as a haven for arts and crafts may be formalized in a special creative district, intended to encourage economic development through arts, music and other endeavors.

The Carbondale Board of Trustees on Tuesday unanimously endorsed an application to the Colorado Creative Industries division of state government, seeking an $8,000 grant and a customized package of technical assistance to plan for such a district.

“The initial concept is to include the downtown, Third Street and the Third Street Center in the district,” wrote town manager Jay Harrington in a memo to the board of trustees.



“This may expand as the process moves forward,” Harrington added.

The town will be working with the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities (CCAH), which formed in 1974 and has been an incubator for artistic and cultural activities ever since.



Other stakeholders identified so far include residents who live along Third Street, the Carbondale Public Arts Commission, Main Street businesses and artists, and representatives of the Garfield County Library District, which is planning a new branch library at the corner of Third and Sopris.

Ro Mead, education and program director for CCAH, said the organization learned last year that the grant was available, and started lining up partners for the application process, including town government.

“We believe that the arts in Carbondale are an economic driver,” she said, pointing to the many arts galleries, music events and other cultural qualities of the community. These make Carbondale a good fit for the creative district concept.

One idea is to designate Third Street “as a creative corridor, sort of like a promenade between Main Street and the Third Street Center,” Mead said. “With the library there, we would like to have it much more of an inviting place to walk.”

The concept grew out of state legislation passed in 2010, which merged the former Colorado Council on the Arts, the Office of Film, Television and the Media and the Arts in Public Places program into the newly formed Colorado Creative Industries Division.

Last year, Harrington wrote in his memo, the Legislature added a grant-making process to help communities form creative districts in communities or neighborhoods.

The state plans to create two districts right away, as well as identify five prospective and eight emerging districts, Harrington told the Post Independent on Wednesday.

“We’re going for the prospective district,” he said, which is the category associated with the grant and the technical assistance.

“It makes sense to take this route rather than run out and try to create a district,” Harrington said. The trustees, he said, “realized that the community would want to have some input on the final boundaries” of a district.

Harrington said the town has no preconceived vision for how the district would function, or what its goals would be.

“Generally, it would help recognize the value of the arts to the community,” he said.

Harrington said CCAH executive director Amy Kimberly is working on the grant application, which is due by the end of January.

If Carbondale gets the grant and the technical help, the various groups involved and the public at large will begin work in earnest on identifying the boundaries and mission of the district.

jcolson@postindependent.com


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