In December of 2019 Durango became the 26th Creative District in Colorado. The program launched in 2010 under Governor John Hickenlooper, created a certification process through Colorado Creative Industries, honoring towns that create an atmosphere where artists can thrive. Haley Kirkman, the Executive Director of Durango’s Creative District (DCD), outlines the mission Hickenlooper initiated, “The benefits of the Creative District program, which include but are not limited to, enhancement of economic and civic capital, more funding opportunities for arts and culture, celebrating and strengthening of our community’s unique identity, and attracting more creative entrepreneurship to our community.” Through many local sponsors who share the same vision, the DCD is able to develop projects enabling them to complete their goals. Their website states the following goals, “…beautify the Durango community, create a collaborative and cultural vision for our community, diversify our local economy, advocate for sustainable funding for our beloved arts and culture nonprofits organizations, attract creative entrepreneurs to our community, celebrate and strengthen our unique identity, and improve our local quality of life.”
Art is not classified as one specific product or form; but rather many. These range from visual, artisanal products, craft food and beverage, film, and performing to name a few. Kirkman herself indulges in painting and ceramics to make her own solo pieces as well as contribute to collaborative projects. She helped coordinate and add to multiple murals in town through her Creative Director position at Local First. DCD’s first project to promote local artists was in 2019 when they partnered with Durango’s Business Improvement District and Creative Economy Commission to create The Empty Storefront Project. Six artists were chosen to display an array of art to fill vacant storefront on Main Avenue. In 2020, creators participated in The Spark Series. Community members were able to attend informative and inspiring discussions. Topics varied from “Taking the Jump: Starting a Creative Business”, “Grain of Salt: Giving a Taking Feedback in Stride”, and “Value Proposition: Pricing Your Work” to name a few. The latest project is The Durango Art Brigade which is a temporary initiative to promote economic recovery. Eleven different artists had a variety of products displayed through October 2020 and another 17 sites will feature art in 2021. Kirkman gives us insight, “The next program of the Durango Creative District will be the outdoor Durango Art Market hosted at 11th Street Station.” The official start date is to be determined but it is definitely something to look forward to!
Covid-19 has undoubtedly affected artists; in response the DCD, in partnership with 1st SouthWest Community Fund, has initiated the first revolving Creative Loan Fund intended to help individuals, small businesses, and nonprofits continue their work. A range of loans from $5,000 to $10,000 have been made available and have already helped Durango recipients. Additionally, the DCD’s website has a page dedicated to Durango’s artists and galleries making up The Creative Directory. Kirkman describes this directory as, “Durango’s local Etsy page, your one-stop-shop to find local makers and creatives. The Creative Directory serves as a free outlet for creatives to list their goods/services. It also serves [as] a map for visitors to find the most local and unique creative stops in Durango.”
We would love to talk with you about the bountiful ways Durango can support you and your family, or about ways to support local artists and shops, please don’t hesitate to reach out!
Read more the Durango Creative District on their website here: https://durangocreativedistrict.org