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Colorado started creative districts 13 years ago. Are they working?

The program created a statewide incentive for bolstering Colorado鈥檚 creative economy. But how does a single program cater to 30 wildly different communities?

Basalt resident Taylor Hale takes a break from work in front of a mural in one of Colorado's creative districts, March 28, in Carbondale.
Hugh Carey/The Colorado Sun

The signs are everywhere: A royal blue square with a tri-color squiggle and the words “Colorado Creative District.” Sixty of them stand beside main streets, thoroughfares and country roads throughout the state, two per creative district.

Though they’re uniform in appearance, the signs mean something different to every community that boasts them. They can point to a sculptor’s enclave, a photography haven or a small town full of woodworkers and cabinetmakers. They can signal a well-established arts ecosystem or an up-and-coming area. 

The variety of creative districts is one of the strengths of the 13-year-old state program that provides communities with a $10,000 grant, technical assistance and two blue road signs. The program’s flexible parameters allow towns and cities, of all shapes, sizes and creative economies, to be a part of a larger network. 



Whether a district’s goal is to turn a聽聽or to create an infrastructure for entrepreneurs, a lot of it comes down to prioritizing and leveraging that status. And money. A lot of it comes down to money.聽

Read more from Parker Yamasaki at


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