State creativity lab coming Friday

A diverse group of artists, businesses, government agents, techies and philanthropists are working to step up Grand Junction’s creative game.

Called the Grand Valley Creative Alliance Task Force, the group secured an award from Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) — an initiative of Gov. John Hickenlooper’s Office of Economic Development & International Trade — that will bring the Creativity Lab of Colorado to Grand Junction’s Avalon Theatre for a public workshop on Friday. Grand Junction was one of only two cities in the state to be awarded a creativity lab.

The workshop is intended to guide community members in brainstorming how the Grand Valley can transform into a creative hub.

While the collaborative experts at the Creativity Lab organized the workshop, the task force was instrumental in making it specific to the needs of the local community, said Gisela Flanigan, the task force’s chair, who applied for the grant that’s bringing the lab to town.

The task force sees a need in the valley for an established alliance across the area that will bring together those interested in creativity, the arts and creative entrepreneurship.

“Our main goal is to create community,” Flanigan said.

Ideally, the task force, with the help of the Creativity Lab, will become the Creative Alliance, she said, a structured nonprofit that can further artistic endeavors around the valley far into the future.

“What we hope is that as we become an organization, we can do creative things for our community,” said Flanigan, adding that such things will enrich the lives of people already living here and draw in new creative talent.

Bringing the Creativity Lab to town is a special honor for Grand Junction and a major step in identifying the city as one of Colorado’s Creative Districts, said Robbie Breaux, a CCI board member who also serves on several artistic-minded boards in Grand Junction.

She said part of Grand Junction’s Strategic Cultural Plan for 2017 was to apply to become a creative district through CCI, and bringing in the lab is a critical step toward that happening.

“These guys know what they’re doing,” Breaux said. “They have done this in other communities around the state and provided them with the information they need to be successful.”

The valley needs a collective like the Creative Alliance to functionally put artistic programs together and work toward goals, Breaux said.

“We have so much art out here,” she said, adding that many of the pieces of becoming a creative district are in place.

Colorado’s creative districts — they’re in places like Denver, Ridgway and Crested Butte — are known for being artistic centers, featuring creative energies, a plethora of art, theaters, innovative cuisine and the like.

Both Breaux and Flanigan underlined that the success of the lab depends on participation from a wide swath of the valley’s residents.

“We would love for all our community to come participate,” Flanigan said. “The more people, the more perspectives we have, the better vision we will have for our community.”

The workshop, free and open to everyone who would like to contribute to the creative future of Grand Junction and the Grand Valley, will be held Friday from 9:30 a.m. to 12 p.m. in the Avalon Theatre’s Encore Hall.


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