Residents will have a chance in coming weeks to shape a new creative district in Durango, meant to help diversify the economy.
Creative districts have been set up in communities across the state to draw in visitors to areas with galleries, museums and performance centers.
Online polls and meetings in coming weeks will decide the mission and vision of Durango’s district and its new logo, said Monique DiGiorgio, executive director of Local First, a nonprofit that represents locally owned businesses and nonprofits. Local First is helping lead the work to establish the district.
Hundreds of people have become involved with the proposed district that could help grow the local creative economy, a sector that includes arts, entertainment, restaurants and skilled professionals, such as architects, she said.
“We are really thrilled with the amount of interest, participation and enthusiasm,” she said.
Plans for the district are likely to be completed this summer, and the district could be certified by the state in early 2020, she said.
The district has raised $12,000 to help fund its formation and continues to raise funds, she said.
As part of the effort, Local First plans to submit an application to the state to certify the district. The state certification would provide promotion, seed funding and technical expertise to help develop the district, she said.
The state has certified 23 creative districts in communities such as Telluride, Mancos and Ridgway.
Once established, the district could be run as a stand-alone nonprofit or as part of another organization. Work through the new entity would continue on the yet-to-be-determined mission of the district. The group running the district may work on events, resources and regional marketing, said Colleen O’Brien, the city’s business development and redevelopment coordinator.
O’Brien is one of 17 members of a steering committee that includes representation from the Durango Arts Center, Fort Lewis College and the Durango Chamber of Commerce, among other nonprofits and businesses. Working groups are also setting up an entity to run the district and determining the district’s boundaries.
While working on the district’s mission and vision, DiGiorgio said she heard from some community members who said they are interested in celebrating Durango’s identity, including the gutsy and gritty character of the area.
“We are survivalists, we’re rugged,” she said.
To learn more, donate or sign up to be notified about polls, visit durangocreativedistrict.org. The first poll about the district’s logo will occur April 3.