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Public Statements

Issue Position: Arts and Creative Enterprises

Issue Position

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Hickenlooper for Colorado Values: Arts and creative enterprises are a clean and vital sector of Colorado's economy, providing jobs and enhancing our quality of life. The arts are an integral part of good economic development, workforce development and education in Colorado. We will broaden arts and creative enterprise opportunities throughout the State and make Colorado known as a home for creative entrepreneurs.

Key Priorities

* Cultivate private/ public support for Colorado Creative Enterprises.
* Support Arts Education in our schools.
* Empower local solutions and approaches to arts and creative enterprises.

"The essence of entrepreneurship is not the economic bottom-line, but the exploration of innovation and creativity." -John Hickenlooper


Even before he was Mayor, John Hickenlooper understood the value that arts bring to business. John hired the first art curator for a microbrewery, and encouraged other restaurants to help revitalize Denver's Lower Downtown neighborhood into the vital urban neighborhood it is now-including some of the area's most prominent art galleries and music clubs.

The creative sector is an important economic engine for Colorado. A recent study in 2008 commissioned by the Colorado Council on the Arts underscores the importance of the creative economy in Colorado, reporting that it constitutes 186,000 jobs in the state, making creative occupations the 5th largest cluster in Colorado's economy. Colorado is 5th in the nation in concentration of total artists, including architects, designers, writers and authors, photographers, producers, directors and musicians. Colorado's creative enterprises extend beyond the conventional artistic fields to include new media technologies, outdoor equipment design, green products, and craft-food and beverages.

According to the biennial study commissioned by the Colorado Business Committee for the Arts, arts and culture enterprises funded by the Scientific & Cultural Facilities District (SCFD) generated $1.7 billion in economic activity (primary and secondary) for Denver.

Colorado's cultural infrastructure and entrepreneurial spirit provide an opportunity for economic growth, branding and innovation that surpasses other states. Across urban and rural communities throughout Colorado, arts and creative enterprises provide jobs, revitalize main streets and neighborhoods, and help launch new industries. Creative entrepreneurship thrives across Colorado and can be seen in many of our communities where craft shows, arts displays and music and film festivals bring people together. Businesses as diverse as Gigbot, the Creede Repertory Theatre and EchoStar, are shining examples of arts and creative industries playing a significant role in the economic health of our state.

For Colorado's economy to thrive in the 21st century, we must have a high-performing workforce that rises to the challenges of a global economy, including workers who are skilled innovators. We need that entrepreneurial spirit to fuel fast-growing creative enterprises such as design, architecture and interactive media. At a time when employers demand a more creative workforce, 53% of high school students are not taking any arts courses. That is why John Hickenlooper's administration partnered with the Colorado Council on the Arts to create an annual Arts Education Summit, which for four years has incubated grass-roots initiatives to restore arts education to Colorado's classrooms by empowering parents, teachers and administrators to create programs that work for their own schools.

Strategies and Solutions

Public/Private Support of Colorado Creative Enterprises: We will explore initiatives that have worked well in other states and adopt them to grow Colorado creative enterprises. Examples include:

* Helping creative enterprises to access small business financing and other business development opportunities;

* Facilitating the ability of the Colorado Council on the Arts to raise dedicated private funds directed to programmatic efforts;

* Encouraging endowments, trusts, venture capital, angel investment funds and other long-term funds for arts and culture infrastructure;

* Branding Colorado as a place of innovation, entrepreneurship and lifestyle, in which the creative enterprises play a significant role;

* Encouraging place-based partnerships that leverage experience in local planning, economic development and real estate development. The creative sector is particularly important in rural areas that depend on cultural tourism. Several of Colorado's communities have developed strong identities around creative enterprises and cultural amenities such as sculpture in Loveland, theatre in Creede, and film in Telluride;

* We need to review current film production incentives and develop a sustainable model to grow the local film industry.

Arts Education: Arts education contributes to a well-rounded curriculum in our schools and after-hours programs. Given the crucial importance of creative skills to the 21st Century workforce, we will put the STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, ARTS, and Mathematics) in STEM by targeting private partnerships to enhance arts education in the schools.

Empowering Local Solutions: Many of Colorado's most successful economic growth strategies trace back to local initiatives. Since one solution may not work for the entire state, we will direct the Colorado Council on the Arts to convene regional meetings on issues such as attraction and retention of individual artists and creative enterprises, dedicated funding for arts and cultural institutions, and community strategies to implement arts education. For example, there is no reason we can't match community space and other under-utilized resources to provide low-cost space for artists' studios and multi-tenant space for creative entrepreneurs.

Cities and regions alike could work on joint campaigns to attract new creative businesses. We will encourage regional roundtables, spearheaded by local chambers, county commissioners and business leaders, to help communities identify their own needs and when necessary, we'll bring the power of the Governor's office behind these efforts.

Cultural Tourism: We will give specific direction to the Colorado Tourism Office, also housed within the Office of Economic Development and International Trade, to promote Colorado's many cultural assets.

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