Town, Methow Arts to apply for ‘creative district’ designation
The Town of Twisp and Methow Arts Alliance are developing a plan to make the town one of the state’s first official creative districts.
The town and the arts nonprofit hope to submit an application for creative-district status to the Washington State Arts Commission “by November at the latest,” Methow Arts Executive Director Amanda Jackson Mott wrote in an article posted on the organization’s website.
The state’s creative district program began in 2017 as a way to spur economic development by heightening a community’s brand as a center for arts and culture. So far, three creative districts have been recognized by the Arts Commission: Edmonds, Chewelah and Olympia.
The Town Council heard a presentation about the creative district program in June from Annette Roth, the Arts Commission’s creative districts program manager. Roth also met that week with people in Twisp’s arts community.
Town and arts leaders were enthusiastic about the project after Roth’s visit, and they initially hoped the town would submit an application to the state by September, with help from Methow Arts. Council members, however, balked at Methow Arts’ request for up to $2,275 to put the application together.
Under an agreement reached recently by Jackson Mott and Twisp Mayor Soo Ing-Moody, the town and Methow Arts will be co-applicants, Ing-Moody said, and Methow Arts will complete the application at no cost to the town.
Once the application is ready, it will come before the Town Council for approval before it is submitted, Ing-Moody said.
Methow Arts and the town will host an open house in mid-October, when the public can learn more about what a creative district is and how the designation might benefit the community. The date of the open house hadn’t been set by press time.
Benefits to town
Creative districts receive $5,000 in grant funding from the Arts Commission. The grant requires a $5,000 match from the applicants.
The program also provides free highway signs to help travelers find arts-based destinations in a community. A marketing package for creative districts is supposed to be provided by the state Department of Commerce, but that program hasn’t started yet.
The Arts Commission’s website describes a good candidate for creative-district status as a walkable community with a clearly defined concentration of artistic or cultural activities. Creative industries recognized by the state include everything from galleries and theater companies to restaurants, landscapers and industrial designers.
Town Council member Mark Easton, who is an artist, said creative-district status would benefit Twisp.
“It’s another way of putting us on the map,” he said in an interview in June, adding, “it’s another way to make us attractive to people,” particularly tourists.
The Twisp Chamber of Commerce and TwispWorks are both active supporters of the creative district effort. The Methow Valley School District got on board as well, recently agreeing to partner with the town and Methow Arts to advance the goals of the creative district.
The school district, the town and the arts organization will be “working together to promote economic vitality through the arts, and at the same time, opportunities for our students” to develop skills they can continue to pursue after graduation, Superintendent Tom Venable said.