On Tuesday, October 30, The Telluride Town Council voted unanimously to adopt an update of the Telluride Cultural Master Plan originally adopted in 1996. Telluride Arts facilitated the update in collaboration with the Town of Telluride and CCAASE, and with funding from Colorado Creative Industries to activate the Telluride Creative District.

Sixty-nine people contributed over 300 hours of focused meeting time to develop the strategies contained in the update. Included were representatives from the Ah Haa School, the Sheridan Opera House, the Palm Theatre, MountainFilm, Telluride Theatre, the Telluride Institute, Telluride Aids Benefit, the Choral Society, the Chamber Music Festival, Playwrights Festival, the Dance Academy, Telluride TV, the Historical Museum, Wilkinson Public Library, CCAASE, the Telluride Tourism Board, the Telluride School District, the Town of Telluride, The Telluride Gallery, Telluride Arts, local business representatives, and artists of all kinds.  Jim Lindheim, a retired professional and local playwright, facilitated the productive and positive meeting.

The consensus seen throughout the planning process was significant, and reflected many of the concerns identified in the 1996 plan. Among those challenges were branding and marketing for the arts, communication about events through a central calendar, shared services to strengthen arts organizations, addressing temporary housing needs for visiting artists, advocacy for the arts locally, and funding.


In February 2011, Telluride joined the American’s for the Arts “Arts and Economic Prosperity Survey” that measured the economic benefit of the arts in Telluride and established how the arts give back economically to our community. We hand-collected over 400 audience surveys and 24 organization surveys that reported 140,000 audience members and $16,000,000 in organizational expenditures.

In March 22, 2011 Governor Hickenlooper signed Colorado House Bill HB11-1031. In brief, that encourages the formation of Creative Districts in communities, neighborhoods, or contiguous geographic areas, for the purposes of:
• Attracting creative entrepreneurs and artists to a community, infusing new energy and innovation, which in turn will enhance the economic and civic capital of the community

•  Creating hubs of economic activity, thereby enhancing the area as an appealing place to live, visit and conduct business, as well as create new economic activity

• Attracting visitors

• Revitalizing and beautifying communities

• Providing a focal point for celebrating and strengthening a community’s unique identity

• Showcasing cultural and artistic organizations, events, and amenities

In November 2011, Colorado Creative Industries created a new incentive program to support a handful of communities to activate creative districts. Members of the Telluride community representing the arts, business and government formed a vision and established a management team and to respond to this opportunity.

In January 2012, the Town of Telluride established the Telluride Creative District, which follows the geographic boundaries of the town and encompasses a potent zone of arts activity.

In March 2012, Telluride was selected as one of 5 “Prospective” Creative Districts in the state, landing us in the top seven communities out of 44 applicants.

Funding and support that came with the designation helped support a community wide visioning process that culminated in the production of the 2012 Cultural Master Plan update. The Colorado Creative District legislation provided important context to that work, supporting the concept that if we get organized locally, we can strengthen the arts to enhance cultural and economic vitality into the future.

With a few thoughtful steps, we will further creative excellence, strengthen the arts and support artists in Telluride and be positioned to receive a Creative District certification from the state.

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