Estes Park arts community working on ‘creative district’ certification

photo: Stanley hotel
The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park

The Estes Park creative community hopes to form a new art association called Estes Arts Presents with the intention to eventually become a state-certified creative district.

Last fall, art business and organizations, as well as individual artists, began meeting to discuss viable ways to promote and support arts and culture in Estes Park and the surrounding area.

“We evaluated our art assets and inventory and were shocked with all that we had,” Estes Park artist Cydney Springer says. “In light of that inventory, we realized that Estes Park is already so rich in the arts, but we need to tell our story.”

Cultural assets in the area include the Fine Arts Guild, the annual Scotsfest, the Rocky Ridge Music Center, the Oratorio Society of Estes Park and the Stanley Hotel, which sponsors the Estes Park Music Festival among other arts events.

Springer is also a chairwoman on the newly appointed Estes Arts Presents Task Force. This committee of community members and arts professionals has been working with Colorado Creative Industries (CCI), the cultural division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade, and neighboring Certified Creative Districts to better understand the process.

“Research is our priority right now,” Springer says of the task force’s next steps.

Once the task force feels it has enough information, it will present its recommendations for a sustainable art association infrastructure and invite public feedback.

CCI will start accepting the next round of applications for the program in 2016, and Estes Arts Presents hopes to meet that deadline.

In 2011, Governor John Hickenlooper and the Colorado Legislature signed a bill into law that encouraged the creation of Creative Districts to boost economic and creative activity in communities and neighborhoods across the state. CCI manages the program.

"The program serves as a magnet for creatives to have a supportive environment in which to live and work," CCI director Margaret Hunt told CPR last spring. "It also serves as a magnet to draw people to communities."

Since the program’s inception, 12 communities have become Certified Creative Districts -- including 40 West Arts in Lakewood, Downtown Colorado Springs and, most recently, Longmont Creative District. Nine Candidate Creative Districts are currently working toward certification.