(Want to learn about some of our fellow Colorado Creative Districts? Click here.)

How We Got Here


In 2011, in collaboration with Ouray County and the City of Ouray through numerous public meetings and pursuant to a request from the State of Colorado for a “Bottom Up” Economic Development Plan, a county-wide economic development plan was created. Goal 3 of this plan called for participation in statewide efforts to grow and nurture creative industries as an economic development driver for the State. The Goal 3 (“G3”) committee was formed of volunteers from Ouray County, Ouray and Ridgway, and this committee tracked the implementation of this legislation through the Office of Economic Development and International Trade/ Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) Division. The G3 Committee approached the Ridgway Town Council for support and leadership in submitting an application to become a certified Creative District with the State. The City of Ouray, Ouray County and Town of Ridgway volunteers all agreed that the Town of Ridgway would be the applicant for District certification in 2012.

15 awards were issued through CCI, and Ridgway was one of 5 districts awarded Prospective District status. This status provided the Town with financial and technical resources, which were expended, in part, in developing the strategic plan.[hyperlink this to an abbreviated strategic plan]  

On May 2nd, 2012 the County-wide G3 Committee held a public outreach event with nearly 60 citizens in attendance to hear about the formation of the Ridgway Creative District. Nearly all attendees signed up to volunteer and assist with the development of the district, including many applications to participate on the committee. The G3 Committee selected 9 candidates to participate on the Ridgway Creative District Committee, and on May 17th, 2012, the Ridgway Creative District Committee convened for the first time.

The Ridgway Creative District was awarded Prospective Creative District status in 2012 under the State of Colorado legislation, House Bill 11-1031, signed into law by Governor Hickenlooper in 2011. After a year as a Prospective District, on June 26th, 2013, Colorado Creative Industries and the Boettcher Foundation announced that the Ridgway Creative District had achieved State-Certified Creative District Designation!  

In 2011, the Colorado legislature passed, and Governor Hickenlooper signed into law, HB11-1031 encouraging the formation of Creative Districts in communities, neighborhoods or contiguous geographic areas.

The purpose of the bill was to:
    • Attract artists and creative entrepreneurs to a community, infusing new energy and innovation, which in turn will enhance the economic and civic capital of the community;
    • Create hubs of economic activity, thereby enhancing the area as an appealing place to live, visit and conduct business, as well as create new economic activity;
    • Attract visitors;
    • Revitalize and beautify communities;
    • Provide a focal point for celebrating and strengthening a community’s unique identity;
    • Showcase cultural and artistic organizations, events and amenities;
    • Contribute to the development of healthy communities; and
    • Improve the quality of life of the State’s residents.

The legislation charges Creative Industries with providing leadership and a helping hand to local communities desirous of developing their own creative district by certifying Creative Districts, offering available incentives to encourage business development, exploring new incentives that are directly related to creative enterprises, facilitating local access to State assistance, enhancing the visibility of Creative Districts, providing technical assistance and planning help, ensuring broad and equitable program benefits and fostering a supportive climate for arts and culture. 

The legislation is written broadly enough to ensure that the Creative District concept is relevant to places large and small, urban and rural, well-established and new. Creative Districts are defined as contiguous area that includes a mix of uses within their boundaries and are typically small enough to be walkable. All include a concentration of arts and cultural organizations and businesses, both nonprofit and for-profit. Most will incorporate complementary non-arts businesses such as restaurants, offices, retail stores, housing and lodging. All will be characterized by vigorous arts and cultural activity such as art walks and arts festivals. Often they will include community gathering places. 

Colorado Certified Creative Districts have completed a 2-year candidacy protocol, meet the requirements and standards of the program (listed below) and are approved by the Colorado Creative Industries Council for 5-year Certification.

Requirements of Candidates in the Program:
    • Complete a two-year intensive technical assistance program
    • Must match $5,000 grant from Colorado Creative Industries with non-state funds such as: local business, government or foundations, membership, donations or grants for each of the two years of Candidacy (Total match of $10,000 from District over two years)
    • Must attend two Candidate District meetings annually (Paid for by CCI)
    • Complete 30 hours per year of technical assistance with CCI’s Professional Advisory Network of Consultants (Paid for by CCI)
    • Complete a training webinar series that addresses 7 Steps of Creative District Development
(Paid for by CCI)
    • Collect value measures including: participation and visitorship. district characteristics (# of creative
jobs and businesses), activities available to visitors, leverage through new partnerships and new sources
of funding
    • File annual report with CCI
    • Promote creative district status on all electronic and print media
    • Communicate with local elected officials 

Benefits of Becoming a Colorado-Certified District:
    • Eligibility to apply for competitive Colorado Creates grants (Up to $10,000)
    • National and statewide marketing, advertising and social media opportunities
    • CDOT signs marking Certified Creative Districts on state highways
    • Technical assistance from professionals for district-specific identified needs
    • Customized economic impact data from the Creative Vitality Index provided by Westaf
    • Training webinars by world renowned consultants
    • Assistance with community asset mapping by ESRI
    • Access to capital through OEDIT funding and CCI community loan fund
    • Ability to leverage funding for additional funding and partnerships
    • Mentoring and coaching from other Colorado Certified Creative Districts


Boettcher Creative District Leadership Awards

The Boettcher Foundation is a partner of the Colorado Creative Industries in establishing the Colorado Creative District Program.  Current Certified and Candidate Creative Districts are eligible to receive a Boettcher Creative District Leadership Award.

The purpose of the Boettcher Creative District Leadership Awards is to assist in creating sustainable operations and successful ongoing programs through a matching grant of $25,000 per Creative District. The funds are to be used to help the Creative Districts currently in the program to achieve the administrative structure, funding streams, community engagement processes, strategic planning and staff structure that provide both immediate sustainability and opportunities to evolve.

Founded by the Boettcher Family in 1937 to effectively assist, encourage and promote a better quality of life for the citizens of Colorado, the Boettcher Foundation invests in Colorado through “minds and mortar.” The Foundation funds Scholarships, biomedical research and teacher training, as well as capital grants for nonprofits. For more information, visit www.BoettcherFoundation.org.