Growing a creative industry in Grand style
February 13, 2014
The economic development office is looking to bring some added vitality to the area with vibrant arts districts dotting the county.
The recently formed "Grand Creatives" group is bringing together artists and creative talent to obtain official designation as a Colorado Creative District, receive federal tax-exempt status and realize an "Art Trail" in Grand County.
DiAnn Butler, with Grand County Economic Development, said Grand Creatives' mission is to "promote, support and expand the creative industries to drive the Grand County economy, grow jobs and enhance quality of life."
So far, Grand Creatives has brought together creative groups from throughout the county, including the Granby, Grand Lake, Kremmling, Hot Sulphur Springs and Fraser Valley areas.
The Colorado Creative Industries Division, which works to help communities brand and invest in a creative sector, officially certifies creative districts to help encourage economic hubs in neighborhoods and towns. And official certification has its perks. It provides inclusion in a statewide branding campaign and economic assistance to attract artists and further grow a local creative economy.
Certification is competitive. It takes a letter of interest to the Creative Industries Division to become a candidate. If accepted, Grand Creatives will work on a two-year certification program. So far, only seven communities have received official Colorado Creative District designation. Another seven, all on the Front Range, are candidates working toward certification.
Butler said the efforts of the Grand Creatives group will provide valuable benefits to the county, regardless of receiving state recognition and certification.
"Whether we get picked as a candidate or never do, the vision is still strong to collaborate and strengthen the community," she said in an interview. "We feel we have a strong county-wide model."
That model includes developing the Grand Creatives group, along with a five-year strategic plan and the "i am Grand" branding campaign that encourages visitors and residents to shop locally.
On Feb. 2, county commissioners approved a $10,000-service contract with consulting group Centro Inc., part of the economic development office budget, to help realize these goals.
On Wednesday, Feb. 13, the Grand Creatives group welcomed Jamie Lick, president of Centro Inc., as a facilitator for their first brainstorming and planning retreat. According to Butler, the retreat is meant to foster lively discussion on creating a road map for achieving Grand Creatives' goals. Ideas will be incorporated into a five-year strategic plan.
Beyond creative district certification, the strategic plan will also work toward federal status as a 501(c)3. This status will allow Grand Creatives to receive charitable donations, grant funding and sponsor more creative development in the county.
Residents and visitors can also expect to see a Grand County "Art Trail" in the future, which will help them identify areas of current and historical artistic value.
Fostering the arts and creative industries "is a key component of Grand County's community and economic development planning," Butler said in a statement. Those creative industries will include everything from customized snowboard manufacturing, to publishing, to architecture, to performing arts and numerous other creative pursuits.
"With this retreat and their collaboration with Licko and Centro Inc., Grand Creatives are placing themselves at the forefront of this movement in the promotion, eduction and support of culture, art and creative industries in Grand County," Butler said in the statement.
Leia Larsen can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext. 19603.