Annual Colorado Creative Industries Summit gets underway this week

Painted pianos were among the ideas Avon officials found themselves motivated by during the 2015 2015 Colorado Creative Industries Summit in Fort Collins. The 2017 summit starts today in Breckenridge.
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Wolf: Creative districts require creativity in follow through

Local musician Jake Wolf, as a member of the Avon Town Council, has attended the Colorado Creative Industries Summit for the last few years.

This year, however, he’s staying home.

Himself motivated by the event, he’s hoping other people from Avon will go in his stead and become as motivated as he has been.

“This will be the largest event that we’ve had yet.”Christy CostelloProgram manager, Colorado Creative Industries

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“Arts has always been a priority for me,” he said. “But for others, I think this Colorado Creative Industries Summit really has the power to put arts at the forefront of their thoughts.”

And what, in Wolf’s mind, would prove to him arts are a priority in Avon?

“Long term I want to see art fairs on the mall, the Seasons building lobby decked out with art from local artists, and those artists I want to be set up in an artist in residence program,” he said. “But in the short term, I’m just hoping to get these pianos out of the parking structure on Swift Gulch and into the streets once and a while.”

The last example, says Wolf, was an idea he received at the 2015 Colorado Creative Industries Summit, held in Fort Collins, where a painted piano display caught his eye.

“We got the pianos, now I want to put people out there on a Saturday and have one person playing it while another person paints it,” he said. “But getting these things together takes some creativity in itself.”

The recently released 2017-18 Avon strategic plan touts the completion and activation of the town’s Main Street Mall, located between West Benchmark Road and West Beaver Creek Boulevard, among its recent successes. In 2014, as the mall was being built, the town’s 2015-16 strategic plan discussion included the formation of a creative arts district on the mall, farmer’s markets and/or arts’ markets on the mall, and the formation of a creative arts committee.

“Sure, there’s been some concerts on the mall and we moved the bronze statues there, but I wouldn’t exactly describe the mall as ‘activated’ and a success as of yet,” Wolf said. “Especially when we say this is where we want this creative arts district to be.”

Avon’s 2017-18 strategic plan lists pursuing a Colorado Creative Arts District designation as a Tier 1 priority. Wolf says that goal has been on the strategic plan for years, and he doesn’t think enough has been done to earn it.

“Forming a creative arts district was a Tier 1 priority in 2014,” Wolf said. “When we failed to get it then, they said there was no creative businesses in the area, no steering committee, our statues along the mall idea was interesting and one thing we had going for us was we hired an Economic Initiatives Director. We no longer have that position at the town, we have no creative steering committee, and no creative businesses in the area. We go to these summits and say ‘we should do this, we should do that,’ but then we don’t follow through.”

Mayor Jennie Fancher said as the town looks into the planning for the area the includes town hall, the police department and the fire department buildings, all of which are expected to be vacated in the coming years, hopefully some of the ideas from the summits can be incorporated into the planning.

“Outdoor musical instruments are fantastic and Jake got a few to try out during the 2015 events,” she said. “I am hopeful we will get these installed in the park and pedestrian mall areas. The pianos on parade are also something great that pulls in artists from the community and then parlays into pianos placed around town for anyone to play.”

—By John LaConte

Summit starting up

Members of Bravo!, Vail’s Art in Public Places, the Vail Valley Art Guild and the town of Avon will head up to Breckenridge Thursday for the sixth annual Colorado Creative Industries Summit. Organizers are expecting more than 350 artists, creative businesspeople, nonprofit officials and city leaders for a gathering of individuals looking to better capitalize on their local arts and culture scenes.

The two-day summit will feature a variety of workshops, exhibits, performances, networking opportunities and keynote speakers, including Jane Chu, chairwoman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

Joining Chu on the lineup are Daniel Windham, director of arts at Wallace, and market research expert Bob Harlow, who will present information from various studies he’s undertaken and draw from his book, “The Road to Results: Effective Practices for Building Arts Audiences.”

Additionally, another presentation will feature Vince Kadlubek, co-founder and CEO of Meow Wolf, an arts collective behind the award-winning art experience “House of Eternal Return” in Santa Fe, New Mexico, which has generated a remarkable economic impact while supporting local growth and emerging talent.

Also at the summit, there will be the 2017 Governor’s Creative Leadership Awards luncheon honoring community leaders who use art to impact social and civic change, with the awards crafted by local artist Martin Deegan.

The summit is all part of an effort to help creative entrepreneurs, communities and arts organizations expand their knowledge and reach, said Christy Costello, program manager at Colorado Creative Industries, who added that the summit always draws a wide audience, including some eccentrics.

For example, art cars — or fully functioning, elaborately decorated automobiles — seem to make it every year, Costello said, adding that one year at the Colorado arts summit she even saw a mini temple set ablaze — somewhat like the Burning Man festival in Nevada.

“This will be the largest event that we’ve had yet,” she said, explaining that generally the summit draws three main audiences — artists and creative business people, individuals representing arts organizations, and civic leaders who want to use the arts to better develop their communities.

Last year, the summit was in Carbondale, another Colorado mountain town about 20 miles south of Glenwood Springs, and Costello said they are especially eager to be heading to Breckenridge this year.

“Yeah, we’re really excited for everyone to see what they’ve done there,” she said of the town that recently earned a top national ranking in the annual Arts Vibrancy Index for small communities under 100,000 in population.

According to Colorado Creative Industries, the state also ranks in the top five states nationally for its high concentration of artists.

Colorado Creative Industries operates under the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade. Registration for the summit is $165. For more information, go to

–Eli Pace

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