In September 2017, Paonia was the community selected for Space to Create in Northwest Colorado…

Space to Create Paonia will advance a feasibility analysis of creative sector workforce space in the town of Paonia. The began with a preliminary feasibility study and community engagement work, and will now be followed by an arts market survey.

Space to Create Paonia, is one of a number of projects that will be launched in eight regions in Colorado’s rural, small town and mountain communities over the next three years. Each project will be driven by community needs for workforce housing and commercial space for artists and creative entrepreneurs.

Hooray, we have the preliminary feasibility study results! See them now

Susie Lowe and Elaine Brett Celebrate the Paonia Award

The first demonstration project was launched July 2015 in Trinidad, followed by the town of Ridgway in the Southwest region. Through the study process, both communities learned that projects are feasible and they are currently in the predevelopment phase. Regional selections are prioritized based on local needs including economic diversification, community readiness, public will, commitment of local resources and housing and space demands.

LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ARTSPACE PROJECT IN TRINIDAD

WHAT IS SPACE TO CREATE COLORADO?

Space to Create Colorado is a collaborative effort of multiple organizations to provide affordable workforce housing and working spaces for creative sector entrepreneurs and artists in rural, small town and mountain communities in Colorado. On July 28, 2015, Governor John Hickenlooper announced the first state-driven initiative in the U.S. for affordable housing for artists. Space to Create Colorado will advance mixed-use projects that blend affordable live/work space for artists and their families with non- residential space for creative enterprises and organizations that serve a critical community need.

Nine new projects will be initiated in eight regions of the state by 2019. The first Demonstration Project is in Trinidad. Ridgway was selected as the next community in the Southwestern Colorado region. Future sites will be determined through a competitive process.

Space to Create Colorado is directed by a steering committee comprised of invested partners. Artspace provides market, feasibility and predevelopment consulting services on behalf of Space to Create Colorado. Each of the projects will be customized to meet community needs for workforce housing and commercial space for creative sector entrepreneurs, artists and arts-friendly organizations.

WHO ARE THE PARTNERS & COLLABORATORS?

Led by Colorado Creative Industries (CCI) in the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and International Trade in partnership with Artspace, the Boettcher Foundation, Colorado Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), and History Colorado, this collaborative effort will assist Colorado communities in accessing state, federal, and local government resources, and include private sector and philanthropic support. 

WHO IS ARTSPACE?

Artspace is the nation’s leader in artist-led community transformation, with more than 35 projects in operation across the country and another dozen in development, representing a unique $600 million investment in America’s arts infrastructure. With headquarters in Minneapolis and offices in Los Angeles, New Orleans, New York, Seattle and Washington D.C., Artspace is America’s leading developer of arts facilities and has served as a consultant to hundreds of communities and arts organizations nationwide. To date Artspace has completed nearly 2,000 affordable live/work units for artists and their families as well as more than a million square feet of non-residential space for artists and arts organizations. (www.artspace.org)

WHAT ARE THE GOALS?   

This initiative will stimulate community and economic development in rural, small town and mountain communities by providing long-term affordable and financially sustainable workforce housing and working spaces for creative sector employment. Nine projects initiated across Colorado by 2019 will culminate in roughly $45 million of investment statewide by multiple partners and agencies in direct capital investment.

HOW WAS PAONIA SELECTED?    

After discussion with and approval by the Town Council, the Town and the North Fork Valley Creative Coalition submitted an initial application to CCI in January 2017. Paonia was then selected to complete and submit the full Space to Create application in April 2017. On September 21, 2017, Space to Create Colorado announced that Paonia had been selected as the Space to Create community for Northwest Colorado. Partners in Space to Create Paonia are: North Fork Valley Creative Coalition, Region 10, Delta County Housing Authority, Delta County Economic Development, Paonia Chamber of Commerce, Department of Local Affairs.

WHAT WERE THE CRITERIA FOR SELECTING A COMMUNITY?

Criteria for selection include such things as concentration of creative sector workforce, availability of historic buildings for adaptive re-use, available developable property, commitment of local resources by a local governing body, and a demonstrated ability to execute community-based initiatives such as the Main Street and Creative District programs.

WHAT IS THE DEFINITION OF “ARTIST AND CREATIVE SECTOR WORKERS”?    

Per CCI, the creative sector in Colorado includes things that are created in the human mind, made by hand or custom designed, and where art takes place, including such occupations as:

Actors, architects, audio and video technicians, art directors, book binding, painters, musicians, singers, song writers, music directors and composers, musical instrument designers and manufacturers, authors and writers, illustrators, publishers photographers, dancers, choreographers, sculptors, advertising and promotions, editors, commercial and industrial designers, sound engineers, interior designers, apparel and fashion designers and manufacturing, set and exhibit designers, reporters and correspondents, museum curators, technicians and conservators, film, television and video script writers and producers, camera operators, broadcast technicians, culinary arts, craftsmen, craft distillers and brewers, sign makers, public relations specialists, multi-media artists and animators, theaters, performance venues, museums, libraries, studios and galleries.

WHAT CAN WE EXPECT THE FIRST STEPS TO BE?

Artspace staff will meet with members of the community and the region in focus groups, representing Creatives, creative enterprises, arts and culture organizations, civic and nonprofit leaders, and the finance sector. A preliminary feasibility study report will be published. In early 2018, an Arts Market Survey will go live.  All Creatives and creative enterprises in our region will be invited to respond to this survey. (Send your email addresses to S2Cpaonia@gmail.com to participate!) The information gathered will be critical to the next phases of the project.

WHAT WAS THE FEASIBILITY STUDY ALL ABOUT?

The Preliminary Feasibility Study provides preliminary feedback about the feasibility of creating a live/work, multi-use, or other arts facility development. There are six areas of consideration:
1. Project Concept
2. Arts Market
3. Local Leadership
4. Funding and Finance
5. Potential Sites
6. Alignment with Community Goals

The study kick-starts the process of creating affordable space for artists. As part of this fact-finding process, the Artspace team met with artists, city officials, funders, and local business owners January 16-18. They looked at potential properties and held a public meeting to welcome community participation, answer questions, and generate buzz.

The Artspace team will provide a written report summarizing their findings and recommending next steps.

WHAT IS THE MARKET SURVEY AND HOW CAN I PARTICIPATE?

As a crucial step in the pre-development process, it is instrumental to determine the size and nature of a market. Artspace Consulting will work with the Paonia team to customize the online survey to reflect the unique characteristics of the project and local arts scene. Developing the questionnaire, publicizing it, collecting data and analyzing the results take about four to six months.

The Purpose of the Surveys:
• Quantify the overall demand for arts and creative spaces.
• Identify the types of spaces, amenities and features that artists want/need.
• Inform site selection, design, and programmatic decisions.
• Maintain community involvement throughout the project.
• Help build support and secure additional funding.

We will have an “official” launch for the online survey sometime in April. Everyone in Paonia, as well as the surrounding areas, will be invited to participate by using a web link. We will be notifying the communities by email, social media, print, radio and on websites.

WHAT IS THE TIMELINE FOR THE PROJECT?

We are following the progress of the other Space to Create communities, Trinidad and Ridgway, and the Artspace process. Based on the available information, we are estimating

Announcement: September, 2017
Phase 1. Launch. November, 2017
Feasibility and Market Studies. January – July, 2018
Reports delivered. July – August, 2018
Phase 2. Pre-development meetings. October 2018
Secure funding and resources 2018-2019
Phase 3. Development. 2019-2020
Phase 4. Grand opening and occupancy. 2020-2021

WHAT IS THE TOWN’S ROLE? WHAT IS THE CREATIVE COALITION’S ROLE?

Because this is a State initiative through the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade (COEDIT) and the Department of Local Affairs (DOLA), the Town of Paonia is the primary applicant. The Town views Space to Create as an economic development opportunity that will bring new tax revenues by new and expanded businesses and residences. The Town of Paonia is providing meeting space and office resources. The Town Administrator, two Trustees and a Planning Commissioner are members of the Space to Create Executive Team and are involved in all communications and decisions.

The Creative Coalition is a nonprofit partner in Space to Create. The Coalition’s Mission is to “foster economic growth in Western Colorado through the Creative Industries.” Members of the Coalition have also been appointed to the Space to Create Executive Team. As a nonprofit, NFVCC can fundraise through grants and private donations.

HOW IS THIS PROJECT BEING FUNDED?

By being selected by Colorado Creative Industries, Paonia received commitments from the Boettcher Foundation ($250,000) and DOLA ($35,000) matching grant to start the process. The Town has committed minimal amounts and the NFVCC has received some funding from an anonymous donor. At this point, all local work has been on a volunteer basis.

Once we have a direction for how the development will go, Artspace and CCI will work with us to define sources of funding. These could come from federal or state economic development or housing programs or from private investors. There is a lot of interest around the country to support rural areas in creative placemaking projects.

WHAT IS THE COST TO THE TOWN OF PAONIA? HOW MUCH MONEY ARE THEY REQUIRED TO COMMIT?

So far there has been very little cost to the Town of Paonia. The Feasibility and Market studies are being funded by the Boettcher Foundation and DOLA. Once sites and facilities are identified, we will be looking for creative ways to finance the projects. It is fully recognized that the Town budget is tight and that roads, infrastructure and safety take priority.

WHO WILL OWN THE FACILITY? WHO WILL MANAGE THE FACILITY?

It is too early to tell what the ownership and management plan will look like. There are many variables to consider. For example, one variable is the source of funding and how we may have to abide by the funder’s guidelines. In Trinidad, housing Tax Credits are being used. The ownership and management is split between the City (Creative District) and Artspace.

CAN ANYONE APPLY TO RENT A SPACE OR CAN ONLY ARTISTS APPLY?

Artspace live/work project are unlike most affordable housing in that we use an “artist preference” policy to fill vacancies. For each project, Artspace appoints a committee that includes diverse artists who are not applying to live in that project. The committee interviews income-qualified applicants to determine their commitment to their chosen art form or creative pursuit. It does not pass judgment on the quality of an applicant’s work, nor is it permitted to define what is or is not art.

Although the IRS challenged the “artist preference” policy in 2007, it dropped the challenge after the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 became law. That law states: “A project does not fail to meet the general public use requirement solely because of occupancy restrictions or preferences that favor tenants…who are involved in artistic or literary activities.”

WHAT SITES ARE WE CONSIDERING?

There are many possibilities to consider. Paonia has an interesting mix of Public-owned properties and privately owned properties. Artspace consultants will help us determine the best options for proceeding.