I came across a fascinating term over the weekend – creative placemaking.
So, I looked into it to see if the term might apply to our community and essentially to the role and function of Durango Arts Center – and by golly, it sure does. If not by some degree already underway, these principles of creative placemaking lend inspiration to DAC’s vision of hosting a community hub for the arts and supporting our community in working toward becoming known as an arts district.
DAC and the arts community of Durango and Southwest Colorado contribute to creative placemaking without even knowing it. We have First Thursdays Art Walks, semi-annual gallery walks, the Open Studios Tour, Autumn Arts Festival, our Public Art Commission’s rotating public art and the ongoing exhibits, theater, music and events around town all year long. We even had Zap Mama play in Buckley Park!
Here are some of the principles of creative placemaking (sourced from ArtPlaceAmerica.org). These are not foreign concepts:
Leverage the creative potential already present in a place: Leveraging local artistic and organizational talent and assets increases the value in a community and the commitment to it, while nurturing an enduring sense of place.
Create opportunities for people of all income levels and backgrounds to thrive. As its value increases, a place that is intentionally inclusive and connected is more likely to spur economic opportunity and allow people to succeed where they are.
Support economic diversity in the community. The more economically integrated a community is, the more access to opportunity exists for all.
Create interesting places that capitalize on distinctiveness. What sets a place apart can attract tourists, artists, entrepreneurs and ultimately more diversity into the system.
Contribute to a mix of uses and people that makes places more diverse, more interesting and more active, thus making spontaneous interaction more likely.
Foster connections among people and across cultures. The relationships built among diverse groups of people create safer, more open places that create more opportunity and foster a sense that everyone is welcome.
Create a place where business wants to be. As a place becomes more active, commerce is likely to respond, thus giving people even more reasons to be there.
As the community center for arts and culture, one of DAC’s central goals is to bring people together to explore and engage in arts and culture through diverse in-house exhibitions. We host year-round exhibits in the Barbara Conrad Gallery featuring local, national and internationally recognized artists. Supporting a practice of diversifying such as visitor’s experience, each exhibit includes special events like workshops, demonstrations, lectures and film screenings.
There are many ways to get involved in creative placemaking – at DAC and throughout Southwest Colorado. I hope you do, so we all may continue to enhance this creative necessity in our community.
firstname.lastname@example.org. Elsa Jagniecki is marketing coordinator at Durango Arts Center.