(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)
SELECTED: Creative District to be a catalyst for the arts, tourism, and growth in Chewelah…
In June, collaborative partners for the City of Chewelah Creative District were notified that they were unanimously approved by a selection panel to become the second designated Certified Creative District in the state, joining the city of Edmonds, which was approved in December of 2018.
The designation culminated more than a year’s work by, at times, up to 40 people in the area to prepare, plan, network and present the city as a viable location for one of the state’s Creative District designations through the Washington State Arts Commission or ArtsWA.
Certified Creative Districts, or CCDs, are categorized by their overseeing body, ArtsWA, as a defined area where art, culture, social, and economic activity may take place and were passed into being by legislation in May of 2017. What constitutes arts, culture, etc. varies widely as the designated CCD page suggests with multiple pages of business types and trades listed.
Chewelah had a leg up with some of these businesses and trades already in place, such as Qaurtzite Brewery, Trails End Gallery, blacksmithing, quilting, the Farmers Market and several arts/cultural organizations, which were all noted in the application process. ArtsWA touts becoming a CCD as an opportunity for economic growth in the community, listing potential for growth through increased tourism, becoming a more attractive location for start-ups and artists and boosting livability in the community. They also provide resources to CCD communities through specialized resources, grant opportunities, trainings and networking and tracked progress of the community’s creative economy.
Organizers of the CCD application for Chewelah believe they can utilize the designation to build up Chewelah in many ways.
“We are looking forward to utilizing the Creative District designation as a catalyst in Chewelah becoming a ‘beacon’ for artisans, entrepreneurs, tourism and continued economic growth of the Chewelah area,” Mike Bentz, member of the collaborative team and Vice President of the Chewelah Chamber of Commerce, said.
Things picked up later in 2018 when the Chewelah Chamber of Commerce voted to be the lead partner organization in the venture. The Chamber of Commerce hopping on board as the lead partner helped push things along further, though there was still much to do to get the application together.
“There was a checklist provided by the Washington State Arts that we followed,” Bentz said.
The checklist was then broken down into sub-sections, which Bentz says were then given to the different collaborative partners to work on and compile into a workbook. Once the workbook was mostly complete, Bentz said the partners went through an organizational mapping exercise provided by Debra Hansen, of Washington State University Extension in Colville, to establish priorities, values and concepts. This work lead to the formal application process beginning, with a goal of submission by May 15. The group beat that timeline by a couple days, getting the application in on May 13. There were initially close to 40 people involved in the process that eventually became 15 collaborative partners, Bentz said. This included representatives of the City of Chewelah, TEDD, PACA/Kiwanis, Libraries of Stevens County, Chewelah Schools and many more.
Chewelah beat out places such as Port Townsend and Olympia for the designation.
The designated geographic area for the CCD stretches from King Ave. on the south end up to East Park Lane on the north end and goes as far west as 2nd St. West, with the boundary flowing north along Chewelah Creek, and east to 5th St. East before narrowing to 3rd St. East at East Webster Ave.
Collaborative partners will have a call in mid-July to lay out a list of accomplishments the State requires to be completed in the first year, Bentz said, adding that part of the process for the team has already begun in setting up an organizational chart, promotional meetings, and building a tentative roll- out time frame. So as the work progresses, be ready for some exciting things to come Chewelah’s way.