Arts thriving: Town named official Colorado Creative District | SteamboatToday.com
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Arts thriving: Town named official Colorado Creative District

Dancers Jamie Heath, back, and Skye Cornwell rehearse their parts Wednesday for an Evening of Dance, which will take place at the Steamboat Springs auditorium. The shows will begin at 8 p.m. both Friday and Saturday evening.
Dancers Jamie Heath, back, and Skye Cornwell rehearse their parts Wednesday for an Evening of Dance, which will take place at the Steamboat Springs auditorium. The shows will begin at 8 p.m. both Friday and Saturday evening.

With the town recently earning a prestigious Creative District designation from Colorado Creative Industries (and an accompanying $10,000 grant award), the creative arts are thriving in Steamboat Springs.

“We’ve always been a creative community, but now we’re recognized for this, which gives us access to an incredible network,” says nonprofit Steamboat Creates Executive Director Kim Keith. “It’s exciting to realize that Steamboat’s creative sector is being recognized as a critical industry in our community.”

Indeed, creative industries account for 431 jobs locally and contribute nearly $50 million to the local economy. And in May 2020, Steamboat will host Colorado Creative Industries’ annual Creative Summit for the first time ever. 

Steamboat Creates’ Matt Eidt adds the designation should bring more diversity to Steamboat. “Hopefully, this will attract a new type of visitor and resident — people looking for a creative community,” Eidt says. “It’s yet another feather in Steamboat’s cap.”

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“Steamboat’s arts, heritage and cultural assets are incredible.”

Candice Bannister, Tread of Pioneers Museum

Hosting a slew of art galleries, clubs, seminars, arts festivals, First Friday Artwalks and more — as well as such performing arts venues as the Chief Theater, Strings Music Pavilion and Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp — Steamboat is truly soaring when it comes to creative culture.  

Tread of Pioneers Museum director Candice Bannister says it’s the community’s heritage that sets Steamboat apart. “Steamboat’s arts, heritage and cultural assets are incredible and deserve the attention that the district certification can bring,” she says.

Additionally, a recent NCAR Arts Vibrancy Index ranked Steamboat eighth in the country in Arts Vibrancy for small to mid-sized communities, 13th in the country in terms of independent artists per capita, and in the top 5 percent of cities in terms of arts providers and arts dollars. 

Steamboat top 3 community on National Center for Arts Research’s Arts Vibrancy index

Out of more than 900 communities across the U.S, Steamboat has been ranked the number three small city on the National Center for Arts Research’s Arts Vibrancy Index.

Arts vibrancy is calculated as a cumulative measure of each community’s levels of supply (total number of arts providers), demand (total nonprofit arts dollars), government support for the arts (state and federal arts funding), and per-capita public support for the arts.

“This is huge news,” says Steamboat Creates Executive Director Kim Keith, adding it far exceeds town’s previous rankings. “With world-class organizations like Strings Music Festival, Perry-Mansfield, and the Steamboat Art Museum, combined with smaller cultural organizations and businesses, we’re getting well-deserved recognition as a creative hive that supports and encourages creative activities, events, education and engagement.”


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