June 15, 2017 Vol. 16 No. 30
It’s official: State program certifies Manitou Springs Creative District
Written by Rhonda Van Pelt   




Boulder-based “motion artist” Peter Davison performs his science and circus arts show for an admiring crowd at the Manitou Springs Library on Thursday, June 8. Go to or call 685-5206 for information about this summer’s events for all ages.

Courtesy image

It hasn’t been easy, but the state of Colorado has designated Manitou Springs as an officially certified Creative District.

Colorado Creative Industries, which oversees the Creative District program, announced the news on Tuesday, June 13.

Manitou was accepted along with Steamboat Springs and Denver’s Westwood area. They join the current 18 districts, including downtown Colorado Springs, across the state.

061517_MSCD_N_Johnson“It only took a creative community, hundreds of participants, collaborations galore, multiple boards and committees, city support, 3.5 years and a little good old-fashioned stubbornness,” Creative District Executive Director Natalie Johnson said Tuesday.

“Manitou Springs is a certified Creative District. Always was. Always will be,” she said, echoing the defiant tagline included on the MSCD’s logo after the Manitou effort was denied in May 2016.

A state panel reviewed applications, looking at district characteristics, management and planning, and community buy-in.

To achieve certification, applicants had to meet minimum standards including a high concentration of creative organizations and businesses, sustainable funding sources, paid staff and a strategic plan.

The wannabes also needed to show they had support from local government, which the MSCD certainly did.

“It’s thrilling to receive the Creative District designation. Manitou Springs embodies creativity in every sector of our community and greatly appreciates the committee’s recommendation,” Mayor Nicole Nicoletta said Wednesday.

Each Creative District receives an award package including financial and marketing support, technical assistance, access to grants, Colorado Department of Transportation highway signs and leadership training. Certification lasts five years, at which time districts can re-apply.

“These 2017 certified Creative Districts are great examples of how the arts create exciting places for people to visit and live,” Gov. John Hickenlooper said in a release.

“These districts increase quality of life, help with economic vitality of the area and attract people from all over Colorado and the country.”

MSCD also recently was approved by City Council to serve as a champion for Manitou’s continued economic development, with the city and chamber helping pay Johnson’s salary to lead that effort.