Evergreen selected as candidate for creative district designation

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By Sandy Barnes

A vision for the community has become a reality with the acceptance of Evergreen as a candidate for creative district designation by Colorado Creative Industries.

“Recognition identifies our district as an arts and cultural destination, and will increase our visibility both statewide and nationally,” said Joan Mickelson, secretary of the Evergreen Downtown Business Association. 

Since the announcement last Friday, reaction has been very positive in the community, Mickelson said.

Although the official designation for Evergreen is as a candidate for a creative district, it is exciting news for EDBA and its partners in the effort: the Center for the Arts Evergreen, the Downtown Evergreen Economic District and the Evergreen Area Chamber of Commerce, she said.

“We’re given two years to prove ourselves,” said Mickelson. ‘We’re going to try to tie it all together. We will work with other creative districts and closely with CCI staff to receive professional assistance and training."

In addition to benefiting artists and arts organizations in Evergreen, creative district designation can make a positive impact on the economic development of the business community, Mickelson said.

“It’s about leveraging the arts to increase business for everybody,” she said.

People who come to arts events and performances also shop at businesses and go to restaurants, she said.

The Evergreen creative district is defined as the concentration of businesses, arts and cultural assets within walking distance from downtown, Mickelson explained.

The creative district extends from Keys on the Green and the Evergreen Lake House to the point where Highway 74 becomes Main Street and passes through the core business district. At the intersection with Meadow Drive, the district boundary extends to include Highland Haven Creekside Inn. Following Meadow Drive, the boundary extends to the Hiwan Homestead Museum.

Although the Center for the Arts Evergreen is not within the creative district boundary, Steve Sumner, CAE director, said he is very pleased that the designation finally happened after years of effort.

“This is a big win for all of Evergreen,” Sumner said. “It’s been a long time in coming to Evergreen.
“Those of us who sit outside will be the friends of the district,” he remarked.

Sumner also commended the efforts of Mickelson and the EDBA in working through the process, which included applications and extensive reviews.

For the past 25 years, Evergreen has been developing its arts community, said Mickelson.

“Now we have been granted this opportunity to further develop and strengthen Evergreen’s identity as an arts and cultural center.”

Colorado Creative Industries is a division of the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Four new creative districts recently were certified, and seven candidate districts were accepted into the Colorado Creative Districts program.

The newly certified districts are 40 West Arts District in Lakewood; Downtown Colorado Springs; RiNo Art District in Denver; and the Greeley Creative District.

Candidate districts entering the program along with Evergreen include the Mancos Creative District, Manitou Springs Arts Council Creative District, Crestone Creative District, Crested Butte Creative District, Downtown Fort Collins Creative District, and the Carbondale Historic Downtown Core.

“These 2014 certified and candidate creative districts are great examples of how the arts create exciting places for people to visit and live," said Gov. John Hickenlooper. “These districts not only increase quality of life, they also help with economic vitality of the area and attract people from all over Colorado and the country.”