RIDGWAY – The Ridgway Creative District is throwing itself a “coming out party.”
“Is that the same thing as a debutante ball?” asked RCD board member and creative massage therapist Red Bear Taylor, tongue firmly in cheek.
Not exactly, said fellow board member Jan Kudek, a fiber artist recently moved to Log Hill from Denver. “It’s a reaching out to the community to ask what they would like to see the Creative District become.”
“A party to get everyone together in the same spot,” Red Bear ventured. “An attempt to get everyone pulling together on the rope in the same direction.”
After six months of hard work, RCD is ready to present itself, its vision, its logo, its strategic plan, to any and all Ridgwayites interested in creativity, economic development, and the town’s status as a Colorado Prospective Creative District.
The party is Friday, March 1, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Sherbino Theater. Food will be provided by local restaurants, music by the harmonizing, bass-slapping, guitar-strumming, Heather and Doug.
“This is our way to check in with the community and get feedback,” said Town Manager Jen Coates, who has been helping the committee navigate the new and admittedly nebulous waters since creative districts were first proposed, by Colorado Creative Industries, in 2012. “Are we on the right track? What’s good? What isn’t?” Like Kudek, Coates is looking forward to sharing the committee’s work so far and getting feedback.
“I think this is one of the most exciting things I’ve worked on,” said Mayor John Clark at last Wednesday’s council meeting. “It’s a chance to create a new identity for the town.”
The vision statement the group will present on Friday night is not that Ridgway should become an “artist colony,” if such a thing were possible. According to Kudek, the vision is a much broader notion: that Ridgway “be a community that cultivates creativity.” And that could be via entrepreneurship, problem solving, inspiring others to creative endeavors. “It could be farming, it could be beer making. It could be a kid digging in a mud hole,” said Red Bear. “That’s creativity.”
The tagline on the new Ridgway Creative District logo says: “Cultivate Creative Community.” The logo is the work of Ridgway High School grad Bryce Chismire, now at art school in Santa Fe, who whipped off the design during his holiday vacation last December.
The design incorporates the “word cloud” concept. The words came from last summer’s Imagination Day in Town Park, during which community members of all ages wrote on large canvases about their hopes for Ridgway, and their thoughts on creativity. The words that appeared most often on the canvases appear largest in the word cloud. In Chismire’s design, the word cloud is circumscribed by a classic western lasso, which also traces the iconic Courthouse/Chimney Peak skyline east of town.
Also to be presented Friday is a “B-roll” video filmed during Imagination Day and edited with help from Mayor Clark by Ridgway High School students.
And, finally, topping the list of presentations is the group’s just-completed Strategic Plan, assembled with technical help from Telluride planning veteran Amy Levek. Part of the plan is to map out the group’s application to go from “prospective” to “full” creative district. Prospective status netted Ridgway $4,000 from CCI last year. Full status would mean more money and more help from the state in furthering “creative” economic development.
But gaining full status will not be easy. There are only two with that designation now, one in Denver’s downtown arts district and the other in Salida. Ridgway will be competing with Telluride and potentially dozens of other communities for full status.
“The B-roll film will be a part of the next application,” Coates said.
As will the results of all community outreach, including next week’s coming-out event. The Creative District is still actively creating itself.