Downtown getting creative district funds

Mancos selected as candidate for Colorado Creative District designation

The state of Colorado selected downtown Mancos as a candidate for Colorado Creative District designation last week.

The Mancos Valley Cultural District will receive funding, new signage, professional assistance, training and will participate in networking that will help develop creative industries and tourism.

The core downtown area of Mancos is designated as the official district and is one of seven in the state to be selected. It will remain a candidate and part of the state's incubator program for two years.

Representatives from the town of Mancos, the chamber of commerce, the arts council, the historical society and other groups all worked together to get the town into the program, said Rena Wilson, president of the Mancos Valley Chamber of Commerce and member of the steering committee that put in the application.

"It'll put Mancos on the map," she said.

The candidacy will help Mancos qualify for grants to fund public art, pocket parks among other improvements. The increased signage and promotion through the state will also encourage more tourists to stop in town, she said.

"There are so many possibilities that we didn't have before," she said.

The value of program benefits averaged $32,000 per creative district from 2012-2014, according to Colorado Creative Industries.

"The goal of this program is to help Colorado Creative Districts achieve the administrative structure, funding streams, community engagement process, strategic plan and staff structure that provide both opportunities to grow the creative economy," said Margaret Hunt, director of Colorado Creative Industries. She heads the office that runs the program.

The officials with the state did not say what set Mancos apart for designation, but they were very excited and positive during their visit, Wilson said.

"They were very impressed by the quality of the local artisans. Not just the fine artists like photographers and painters and jewelry-makers, but the folks making items such as western hats (Nathaniel's), saddle-making, blacksmiths, etc." Town Administrator Andrea Phillips said in an email.

As one of the first steps in the program, representatives will be sent to training in August.

The other newly selected candidates are Manitou Springs Arts Council Creative District, Crestone Creative District, Crested Butte Creative District, Downtown Fort Collins Creative District, Carbondale Historic Downtown Core and the Evergreen Creative District.