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Arts market survey shows need for creative projects

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Photo by Tamie Meck The North Fork Valley Creative Coalition, the organization responsible for the "Welcome to Paonia" sign, recently released the results of its Arts Market Survey related to the Space to Create Paonia Initiative at a public meeting at To

Advocates for the local arts community now have the data needed to move into Paonia's Space to Create, an initiative for building affordable live/work housing, studio space and shared creative space into the pre-development phase.

About 45 individuals, most identifying themselves as working in the creative sector, attended a Feb. 27 meeting at Paonia Town Hall to hear the results of the Space to Create Arts Market Survey. Completed last fall, the survey was created to assess local interest in new, affordable space in Paonia, and to collect information about those who identified themselves as "non-creatives" who want to support the Space to Create project.

Paonia is the third Colorado community chosen for participation in Space to Create (S2C), a state-driven initiative to build affordable housing and work space for creative-sector workers. S2C Paonia is a partnership between the Town of Paonia, the North Fork Valley Creative Coalition (NFVCC) and Paonia Creative District, with funding and support by the Colorado Creative Industries (CCI), the Colorado Department of Local Affairs and others.

Artspace, a national non-profit developer of live/work artist housing, studios, arts centers and arts-friendly businesses, worked closely with the NFVCC to create the survey. Artspace was chosen by CCI for its expertise in the field, said Creative Coalition board president Susie Kaldis Lowe. "We're really encouraged for the statistics and findings in the report," said Lowe. "The numbers in the survey indicate there is enough interest to move forward."

The survey is an "assessment of the six key areas Artspace considers essential to successful community-led development," according to the 32-page survey report. Of the 507 survey responses, 74 percent expressed interest in at least one type of new creative space. Of those responses, 22 percent expressed interest in live/work space; 27 percent are interested in private studio space; 47 percent in shared creative space; and 23 percent want a shared performing arts space.

The performing arts response was most surprising, said Wendy Holmes, senior vice president of Artspace.

The survey followed a Preliminary Feasibility study conducted in January, 2018. That study involved general assessment of the potential to develop new and affordable space for the creative sector.

Concerns about the effects of new development on parking, funding, and creating opportunities that already exist through other businesses and organizations, were raised at the meeting. "Arts Space has never seen a business close as a result of a development," said Holmes.

Lowe said there will be consideration about overlapping of existing businesses and organizations, such as the Blue Sage Center for the Arts, Paradise Theatre, and Elsewhere Studios. "We don't want those to go away," she said.

As S2C enters the pre-development phase, Artspace recommends using the data to begin conversations within the community about how to move forward with development.

As S2C enters the pre-development phase, three next steps are identified in the report:

1) reaching out to the Department of Local Affairs to discuss timing and support for pre-development and development and determine if there is energy within the town to make that relationship with DOLA stronger and to move the development phase forward;

2) identifying private partners and funders;

3) and sharing data with the larger community. Those who have a notion about starting a business with one of these spaces can now move forward knowing that the data to give them the confidence that the market is there.

An actual timeline is yet to be determined and will be based on community needs, said Artspace representatives. For example, Ridgway anticipates a timeline of three to five years, Trinidad's project took five years, and Loveland took six years.

Results of the survey and information on the S2C initiative can be found at northforkcreative.org.

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arts, Artspace, Paonia, Space to Create
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