Time to get creative with cultural amenities
The Grand Valley is home to a variety of artistic and cultural organizations, each with its own admirable goals and initiatives. But there is no single group that looks at the broad, valley-wide picture on arts and culture. It may be time to consider such an organization.
“To what end?” some people might ask.
✔ Critically important is consideration of the economic benefits of cultural amenities. While it may not be possible to calculate them precisely, it is important to consider them in marketing for the entire Grand Valley. A single organization that takes a broad look at all of the valley’s cultural amenities could play a key role in that regard.
✔ As an article by Melinda Mawdsley detailed in The Daily Sentinel last week, the Downtown Development Authority has been seeking community input about the future of the Art on the Corner program. As those discussions take place, there is also interest in including sculpture along Horizon Drive and North Avenue as those key corridors are improved.
✔ Could some organization or project tie in artistic and cultural amenities from Palisade to Fruita, and even beyond? As Harry Weiss with the DDA put it, Grand Junction’s downtown “is one of the gems of the Grand Valley, but we recognize that we are part of a larger setting.” The wine country surrounding Palisade, the mountain biking and other outdoor activities near Fruita, Colorado National Monument, North Avenue and Horizon Drive all contribute to the success of downtown, he noted, so it makes sense for all of these to work together regarding their artistic and cultural amenities.
No, we’re not proposing a new attempt to create a tax-collecting cultural and scientific district, although we have supported unsuccessful efforts to create such a district in the past.
Instead, there are several different entities that might be employed to assist here.
Some communities in Colorado have created nonprofit organizations to be umbrella groups to the many individual cultural entities and help give broad direction to those organizations.
Additionally, the state of Colorado has authorized the establishment of what are known as creative districts. These are not taxing districts, but rather coalitions of creative organizations — artistic, scientific and such —- that are eligible for state money to help market the creative work of their communities.
They can be narrowly focused geographically, encompassing just one part of a community, or much broader, to include several neighboring communities.
They could also be involved in examining other potential forms of providing revenue for cultural improvements, such as tax increment financing, which doesn’t require either a tax increase or a TABOR override.
All of these are ideas worth exploring, but they will require some organization that can take a 30,000-foot view of our artistic and cultural situation to make real progress.