Putting the “Creative” in Creative Districts…and Keeping it There

For rent sign in art district

Keeping the creatives in creative districts is an ongoing challenge. Photo by Jeff Taylor

A creative district is an area where there is a critical mass of creative talent, one that creates a sense of place that is attractive to other businesses including those that might not necessarily be labeled creative. Typically, these districts are found in lesser-developed and many times less desirable areas of a city or town.

Today, many towns and municipalities have efforts to grow their creative areas and in many instances to build them from scratch by attracting creative businesses. The growth of many creative districts has been the result of creative professionals being priced out of other areas and somehow finding themselves in close proximity. This could be a particular part of a town or many times an area a bit further down the road from a larger or more economically viable area.

The process is typically slow and seems to take off when a critical mass is reached. At this point a “sense of place” begins to be noticed and the creative district becomes a place where people want to be – an area that is vibrant and more often than not, socially diverse. Other businesses and residential developments begin to move into the area.

As the growth accelerates, rents and property values begin to rise and eventually many of the artists/creative people who initially transformed the area are priced out. As the area grows, it may or may not keep its sense of place as a creative or artistic hub and becomes what has been characterized as being “gentrified”.

The process of building a creative district is not unlike other experiences in economic development. For example, a car dealer may move to the outskirts of town because the land is more affordable and taxes are lower. Soon other car dealers locate nearby and before you know it you have a street lined with car dealers.

Read the rest of the article at ColoradoBiz Magazine: Putting the “Creative” in Creative Districts…and Keeping it There

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About Neil McKenzie

Neil McKenzie is an author, educator and consultant to artists and arts organizations. He is the author of The Artist’s Business and Marketing ToolBox – How to Start, Run and Market a Successful Arts or Creative Business available in softcover from Barnes & Noble and Amazon and as an eBook from iTunes, Amazon and Barnes & Noble. He has developed and teaches the course “Artrepreneurship” at the Center for Innovation at Metropolitan State University of Denver, and is also a visiting professor at University College at the University of Denver. Neil has over 30 years’ experience as a management consultant and marketing executive, working with some of the world’s top brands. Neil is a frequent lecturer to artists and arts organizations, a guest columnist for Colorado Biz Magazine, where he covers the creative sector of the economy, and the author of several articles for Americans for the Arts, a national arts organization. Follow Neil on Twitter: @neilmckenzphoto