Grand County: Art adds to local economy
May 30, 2008
Have you ever considered the benefits to a community that is provided by a creative work force? Throughout Grand County there is live theatre, art galleries, architecture and landscaping firms, photography studios, jewelry designers and a wealth of organizations that promote live music.To support it all, there are several Colorado Arts Council grants available. A local group recently received one such grant to organize a Creative Economy Seminar to get the word out about the funding and economic opportunities of a creative business economy in Grand County.Grand County Business Economic Development, the non-profit organization that partnered with Neville Studio, helped apply for a $1,000 matching grant via the Small Steps program to help educate the county on the merits of public art and the benefits of what is called a Creative Economy during a two-day seminar.In support of its 2006 Comprehensive Plan Economic Restructuring policy that supports publicly led initiatives undertaken to diversify the local economy, the town of Grand Lake helped sponsor the event. Other sponsors include the Town of Fraser, Grand Lake Art Gallery, Western Riviera, Elmer Lanzi, Allegiant Management, Grand Lake Plumbing and Heating, Mountain Parks Electric, Inc., the Circle H retreat and center, and artist April Lang.Community-based events, such as this one, greatly impact the local community by further promoting a more-diverse and full-time, year-round economy, said Abbi Jo Wittman, town planner during BEDAs presentation to the town.The mission of BEDA, which offers small business loans, technical assistance for small businesses, and a variety of other services; is to promote Grand County business. Executive Director Becky McBride said a Creative Economy is another form that can boost the local economy. Artists bring beauty into our life and creativity into our community.Sponsorships are being sought to help BEDA and Neville Studio bring in the expert guest speakers for the event in increments of $50 to $250 or more. Pledge forms are available at BEDAs Web site and sponsor names will be announced at the event and will appear on all promotional materials included in articles, advertisements, and in e-mail promotion blasts.The seminar is designed to increase public awareness of economic development efforts through the creation and expansion of a Creative Economy. The concept is an economic development strategy that aims at attracting a Creative Class.Its to pull together people from both sides, to let them know whats available for them, said Howard Neville of Neville Studio. He said theres thousands of dollars out there thats available to put art in and around local public buildings and help recognize Grand County as an artistic destination like that of Santa Fe, N.M.Look what we already have here, McBride said, and why not expand on that?The seminar targets community leaders and business owners. This information is there for them as well, Neville said. If they know about it, then theyll be more likely to take advantage. Just to get them to come and listen will make such a difference. Our guest speakers and artists are going to tell them how the Creative Class and grant process works and how a creative economy is possible.It will also highlight several guest speakers. Participants at the cocktail and appetizer reception on Friday, June 6, will meet several guest speakers, including Aleem Kanji, who is with the Creative Class Group in Toronto, Canada. He is the director and team member of Dr. Richard Florida, author of The Rise of the Creative Class and Flight of the Creative Class. Kanji is set to speak on the benefits of incorporating a Creative Economy into the community and seeking out the Creative Class.Allison Sarmon, the cultural arts coordinator for the city of Grand Junction will also share the success of the Art on the Corner sculpture exhibit program, which was awarded with the 2007 Governors Arts Award. She will speak on Creating a Grand Community Through Public Art & Creative Industries. Chad Scott of the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre is also set to speak Friday night.Artists are invited to display their work and share their experiences in creating public art within their communities on Saturday. During the festivities, participants will be introduced to host April Thomas, an off-hand glass blowing artist who will be hosting a demonstration. She is creating a studio at the Circle H and a place for people to watch and learn, with the building also set for an eventual arts center.Lang (new co-owner at the Circle H with her fianc Ken Hilton) is also providing the first art walk of the summer season in the Three Lakes area that day. Artists interested in displaying a sample of their work at the Circle H Saturday are encouraged to e-mail McBride by 5 p.m. Thursday, May 29.