Our view: Celebrating Steamboat’s art scene | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Celebrating Steamboat’s art scene

At issue:

Steamboat Springs has been named a finalist for a new Colorado Creative District designation.

Our view:

A state-recognized district has economic benefits and celebrates Steamboat’s vibrant arts scene and creative industries.

“Create. Connect. Celebrate” is the three-word tagline being used by the Steamboat Creative District, and we think those three words aptly describe the significance and potential of our town’s vibrant arts community.

Our view:

A state-recognized district has economic benefits and celebrates Steamboat’s vibrant arts scene and creative industries.

In recent weeks, the Steamboat Springs Art Council, under the leadership of Executive Director Kim Keith, embarked on an accelerated campaign to advance through Colorado’s Creative District process. Their herculean efforts paid off, and on May 10, Steamboat was named as one of eight state finalists in the running for a new Creative District designation.

We believe there is great value in the prospect of Steamboat becoming a Colorado Creative Industries Creative District. This designation would bolster Steamboat’s already strong reputation as a place in which arts and culture thrive, and it also has the potential to attract new artists to a community that celebrates the arts.

As a Creative District, Steamboat’s arts scene will be enhanced through increased marketing at the state and national levels, and there are strong economic development opportunities available, as well. Colorado Creative Districts have access to training, coaching and strategic planning consultation, and they are eligible for competitive grants to help promote the arts and creative industries.

During a recent visit to Salida, one of the state’s 12 Creative Districts, it was easy to see how that city has used the designation to promote its arts community. The main streets were lined with galleries, there was an outdoor sculpture garden near the center of town and there was signage throughout downtown marking the area as a Creative District.

We can see how this same emphasis on the arts could enhance the overall feel of downtown Steamboat, celebrating its rich history and incredible natural beauty that serves as inspiration for local artists. We envision wayfinding signs and maps guiding visitors on a tour of Steamboat’s art galleries, music venues and other cultural attractions.

We also can imagine the development of new arts-centered events or the expansion of existing ones that bring together artists from all mediums, similar to The Palettes event that is hosted by the Arts Council at the Depot Arts Center each winter. There has also been discussion of extending the Creative District beyond downtown to include the Strings Music Pavilion, Perry-Mansfield and the Yampa River Botanic Park — three more key pieces of Steamboat’s artistic draw.

As organizers of the Steamboat Creative District have explained, the process of becoming a designated district has required collaboration from all segments of the community, from the city to the chamber and from businesses to nonprofits.

In just a few short weeks, the arts community was able to gather letters of recommendation from key leaders and organizations in Steamboat, and an online petition was signed by hundreds of community members. We think it was this demonstration of widespread support that helped Steamboat rise to the level of finalist.

Creative District reviewers are scheduled to visit Steamboat in early June, and the Colorado Creative Industries Council will recommend three or four of the finalists for certified status at its June 10 meeting.

We’re grateful to live in a community that values arts and culture, as demonstrated by this latest effort. The local arts scene not only positively impacts quality of life here, but according to research the Arts Council conducted as part of its Creative District application, it also is an economic driver. According to Keith, creative industries in Steamboat generate $47 million annually and provide 431 jobs to local residents.

We remain excited by the possibilities a Creative District designation could leverage for the Steamboat Springs community. It could help us grow our creative assets, expand our local economy and create another reason for tourists to visit our beautiful town.

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