Paonia selected for Space to Create initiative

Paonia has been selected for a program to provide affordable housing and commercial space for artists and other entrepreneurs working in the creative arts sector and in turn bolster economic development.

The Space to Create program will begin with a feasibility study and arts market survey.

“Having felt the devastating effects of two mine closings and a recession that has lasted a decade, we are thrilled to have been selected for a Space to Create project,” said Paonia Mayor Charles Stewart. “The creative industries are becoming a major part of our economy, and the Space to Create project is a substantial step forward in developing this resource and moving us toward a sustainable financial future.”

Irv Halter, executive director of the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, said Space to Create Paonia will unite local and regional partners in an effort to create a catalyst for economic development.

The department has joined with the Colorado Office of Economic Development and International Trade and its Colorado Creative Industries Division as well as Artspace and the Boettcher Foundation in the effort.

Artspace, a leading developer of arts facilities and consultant to communities  and arts organizations nationwide, will act as a lead consultant with the Colorado Creative Industries.

“Artspace is honored and excited to participate in the Space to Create process and to assist the Town of Paonia and its creative sector in advancing its vision for affordable and sustainable creative space,” said Shannon Joern, vice president of national advancement for Artspace.

Space to Create Paonia is one of a number of projects that will be launched in eight regions of Colorado. Carbondale and Crested Butte also submitted applications for the program for the northwest region

Project sites will be selected on the basis for the need for economic diversification as well as community readiness, local resources and housing and space demands.

A demonstration project was launched in 2015 in Trinidad, followed by a project in Ridgway. Studies have determined  efforts to develop housing and commercial space  in Trinidad and Ridgway are feasible.

“Housing and economic development of creative industries are vital needs in rural Colorado. The Space to Create initiative advances both of these issues by harnessing the power of the public, private and philanthropic sectors as well as the creative community to elevate rural economies,” said Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper.