Creativity abounds In Carbondale at summit
Artists and an array of creative sorts swarmed The Orchard in Carbondale on Thursday for the first day of the fifth annual Colorado Creative Industries Summit.
“This is a huge opportunity to show off what Carbondale is all about,” said Amy Kimberly, director of the Carbondale Council on Arts and Humanities. For years the town has been known for its funky arts scene, she said.
By about one month, this summit precedes Colorado Creative Industries’ selection of the state’s newest creative districts, a designation Carbondale has been angling to attain for two years.
Hosting the summit is no guarantee that Carbondale will be selected for certification, said Christy Costello, Creative Industries’ program manager. But the town has worked hard and has already instituted a lot of the criteria that Creative Industries looks for, she said.
The town has long been marketing itself as a creative district, and that will continue regardless of an official designation, said Kimberly. “The signs will still say creative district.
“But it would put us in a family that we want to be part of,” she said of the designation.
Being named a state-certified creative district comes with financial and technical support from Colorado Creative Industries — such as financial support in the $10,000 to $20,000 range for projects, signs from the Colorado Department of Transportation, and wide-ranging advertisement campaigns to national and international audiences.
Creative Industries, which is part of the Colorado Office of Economic Development & International Trade, is expected to announce the communities selected for creative district certification on June 14.
Meanwhile the summit seemed to have a great turnout Thursday, with each workshop overflowing and people cramming in to sit on the floor, said Lori Dresner of the Carbondale Clay Center board.
Costello estimated that 315 participants attended the summit, and the event saw high participation from the Roaring Fork Valley. “We have people representing around 65 communities around the state — from Crestone to the large Front Range cities.”
“It’s an exciting time for Carbondale; being selected as the summit host feels pretty special,” said Angela Bruno, executive director of the Clay Center.
The summit is bringing a lot of people interested in how the arts can stimulate and support the community, which shows that artistic collaboration isn’t just a self-indulgent thing, she said.
This conference builds on the incredible work that CCAH and all the local arts organizations have been doing, and hopefully it will end with Carbondale being designated an official creative district, said Corey Simpson of Thunder River Theatre Company.
Many people at the summit are making their first visit to Carbondale or the Roaring Fork Valley, and now they’re discovering a new gem, said Simpson.
The summit is hosting workshops on everything from how to improve collaboration among organizations to rediscovering your work’s relevance with your community, said Simpson.
Many of the breakout sessions also revolved around business building and how to market.
In one workshop, attorneys specializing in the entertainment industry talked about creating limited liability companies and other business strategies.
Rodney Wood of Trinidad showed up at the summit with a couple of his art cars, which have been featured in Trinidad’s ArtoCade parade, now in its fourth year. ArtoCade has won the Governor’s Award for Best Festival, and Wood is petitioning Gov. John Hickenlooper to be the parade’s next grand martial.
The summit’s business-focused aspects provide a lot of useful information for artists, said Wood, who credited networking at past summits as a big reason ArtoCade won the governor’s award.
Some town officials from Avon at the summit said they’ve been working for the last three years to make the town the artistic hub of their valley.
Over that time they’ve added public art, miles of new bike trails, new signs, a free concert series, a writer’s conference, symphony performances, a series of publicly accessible pianos, work on an art walk and other major events.
The bulk of the town’s revenue is generated in the ski season, but Eagle County hasn’t had a real center for the arts, said Mayor Pro Tem Jake Wolf. The community has a desire for the types of events and connections it would bring, he said.
“The saying, ‘If you build it they will come’ — we were already halfway there because the people who wanted it were already there.”
Wolf said Avon is different from many of the attendees at the summit; in its case it’s the town trying to draw artists, while usually artists and creatives are begging their local governments for support.
Being able to meet people at the summit from other towns and hearing they way they’ve dealt with the same obstacles you’re dealing with is invaluable, said Wolf.
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