A boundary line has been proposed as part of a new creative district meant to spur artistic innovation and spark economic investment in town.
The creative district is expected to encompass downtown, north Main Avenue, Fort Lewis College and Bodo Industrial Park, said Hayley Kirkman, interim director of the district.
District organizers considered a smaller district, but determined a larger area that highlights areas going through a renaissance, such as north Main Avenue, would be best, she said.
“Our mission is to celebrate, unite and expand our local creative economy,” Kirkman said.
The creative district is intended to promote each area of town and attractions within them, such as the Durango Arts Center, to draw in tourists and make the neighborhoods appealing to entrepreneurs within the creative economy sector.
The creative economy can include artists, nonprofits, businesses that make craft products and skilled professionals, such as graphic designers.
The state has certified more than 20 similar creative districts across the state and has invited the Durango district to apply for certification in October. If the Durango district is selected, it could receive financial and technical support.
The state will evaluate the district’s proposed area, plans for funding and community support, she said.
A larger district will allow district staff to highlight attractions for tourists in each area, such as Bodo Industrial Park and FLC, on a map, Kirkman said.
The college and Bodo areas will have fewer attractions than the other two areas of town, but they have fairly significant community institutions, such as the Community Concert Hall at the college and Ska Brewing in Bodo, she said.
“We would be remiss not to include them,” she said.
Highlighting Bodo could also help attract creative entrepreneurs who need industrial space, she said.
In addition to promoting Durango, the creative district staff could seek funding to offer financial support to the arts, Kirkman said.
The district asked the city of Durango last week to consider setting aside half a percent of the city’s general fund revenue for two years to help get the district started and provide block grants to nonprofits, she said. The city funding would provide an estimated $210,000 in 2020 and $214,200 in 2021.
The city should consider increasing its arts funding because it is far below what other cities provide, Kirkman said.
In 2015, Durango spent $1 per person on arts and culture. Fort Collins spent $35 per person and Salida spent $69 per person on arts and culture in 2015, according a district presentation.
City investment in arts and culture attractions can also draw tourists who will spend money in town and generate tax revenue, she said.
In the long term, the district could be funded by an increase in lodgers taxes, she said. The city’s 2% lodgers tax is paid by people staying in hotels. The city lodgers tax is one of the lowest in the state. Much of the lodgers tax revenue is spent on marketing the area as a destination, which would be in line with the creative district’s mission.
However, the creative district plans to research other ballot measures that could provide funding, she said.
If the district does not receive city support, Kirkman said she expects the district could keep operating through donations and grants. Since October, the effort to establish a district raised $16,000, she said.
firstname.lastname@example.orgThis story has been updated to clarify the Creative District is researching a variety of funding sources, not limited to a lodgers tax increase.