Colorado Creative Industries Summit convenes in Steamboat
Creative professionals from across the state gathered in Steamboat Springs on Thursday and Friday for the annual Colorado Creative Industries Summit. Targeting creative entrepreneurs, emerging creatives, municipal and nonprofit cultural workers and creative district leaders, the summit offers a chance for Colorado creatives to connect, learn and be inspired while attending workshops, lectures and networking events.
The creative sector in Colorado has grown tremendously in the past decade with creative industries producing $31.6 billion in sales of goods and services in 2019. According to the National Endowment for the Arts, Colorado ranks No. 1 in the percentage of residents who personally perform or create artwork.
This is the first time Steamboat has hosted the summit, which is now in its ninth year.
“This event offers our creative community an opportunity to shine,” said Kim Keith, executive director of Steamboat Creates. “Through a variety of performances, tours, presentations and a boosted art walk, we are able to showcase the vast creative talent in Routt County.”
Steamboat Creates is the advocacy organization that leads the Creative District and is co-hosting the summit.
“As fierce advocates, we have persisted in our intention to host the summit locally,” Keith said. “We are striving to have our community become known as a cultural destination in addition to all of the outdoor recreation and tourism. There are many reasons that Steamboat Springs is ranked No. 2 in the nation for creative vibrancy, most importantly is the concentration of creatives who live, work and get inspired by the authenticity and sense of place.”
The two-day event included both virtual and in-person workshops — many of which are led by local Steamboat creatives — a tour of Perry-Mansfield Performing Arts School and Camp, a walking tour of Steamboat, the Governor’s Award Luncheon at the Yampa River Botanic Park and a happy hour hosted by Steamboat Creates at which state Rep. Dylan Roberts spoke.
The keynote speaker this year was Bobby LeFebre, who was named Colorado’s eighth poet laureate in 2019. He is the youngest and first person of color to be appointed to this position in its 100-year history. As an award-winning writer, performer and cultural worker, his work has appeared in The New York Times, Huffington Post, NPR and more.
This year’s summit was especially meaningful for creatives as the event was unable to be held last year due to COVID.
“This is really the first opportunity for many in our sector to see each other, to celebrate what we have accomplished, and to heal from the last 18 months,” said Libby Barbee, program manager for Colorado Creative Industries. “The last 18 months have been hard for all of us, but the COVID pandemic was particularly hard on artists, musicians, and the creative industries.
“At the same time, artists and musicians played an immensely important role in supporting their communities during COVID,” Barbee continued. “They played music, found innovative ways of engaging people in online art experiences, they made masks, beautified their neighborhoods and generally kept hope alive for so many.”
Sophie Dingle is a contributing writer for the Steamboat Pilot & Today. She can be reached through the editor.
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