The Ignacio Creative District checked off another box Monday in its quest to become state-certified with help from the town of Ignacio.
Ignacio community members began the process of forming a creative district in 2019, expecting the process to take two years before the COVID-19 pandemic caused delays.
The community must complete a 12-step application process to become certified. With buy-in from the town board Monday, the district achieved step 10.
“It sounds like a wonderful, wonderful project,” said Mayor Stella Cox during a town board meeting.
A creative district is a geographically defined area of culture and economic activity. Colorado has 23 creative districts that are certified by Colorado Creative Industries, a branch of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade.
Certified districts get access to national promotional opportunities, technical and professional assistance, access to capital, marketing support, and connections with the Southwest Creative District corridor.
To accomplish step 10 of the application, the district needed a local entity to approve the certification of the district and pledge support and/or resources for the district.
“The creation of the Ignacio Creative District can really help the town move forward on some of its major goals,” said Marcia Vining, a district board member, during a presentation to the Ignacio board of trustees.
The district aims to expand community engagement, help revitalize the downtown area and assist with business development, Vining said. It could help improve the quality of life in Ignacio and improve relationships with the Southern Ute Indian Tribe.
“Just the consideration of our strategic plan, the energy, the data, your organization, I’m definitely interested in a letter of support,” said Mayor Pro Tem Allison deKay.
The town board unanimously approved a resolution Monday offering support and approving certification of the district. Trustee Sharon Craig abstained from the vote because she is on the Creative District board.
The district is also requesting a similar resolution of support from the Southern Ute Tribal Council, Vining said.
“Research shows that when community members come together to meet new people and develop deeper connections with existing acquaintances and friends, trust is established,” Vining said during the presentation.
Creative districts help nurture the economy driven by creative industries. In Colorado, arts and culture industries add $14.4 billion to the economy, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. That’s 4.4% of the state’s gross domestic product – more than transportation, mining and agriculture individually.
North Adams, Massachusetts, was on the verge of economic collapse with unused, vacant or disused buildings, Vining said. And in 2017, they created Mass MoCA, which became the largest museum for contemporary art in the world.
The Creative District committee has already created mission statements, identified 12 months of programming, established a leadership structure, gained nonprofit status and developed a preliminary budget.
The Ignacio Creative District also recently received a $1,000 Ballantine Family Fund grant that will help fund an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer placement.
In 2019, Ignacio was selected to participate in the Rural Technical Assistance Program’s Creativity Lab, which has helped further the development of the district.