Aurora Cultural Arts District

Through accountable public action and investment, we are determined to grow quality jobs and increase entrepreneurship, ownership, and wealth within the district. We work with local businesses and artists to create free art classes, public art opportunities, free or reduced activities for residence.

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Cultural Planning

Class

Arts, Culture & Humanities 

Beneficiaries

Blacks, African Heritage
Ethnic/Racial Minorities
Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges
Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, Transgender
Migrant Workers

Description

ACAD and district partners are working to deploy street teams to gain a comprehensive understanding of the needs of the diverse population we serve. With that knowledge, we will adapt existing marketing efforts and build new strategies including through social media and online platforms to ensure alignment of all programming with our core values. Many community artists and creative businesses are without any online footprint or support in the District. While they are part of the area, many seem excluded from the district. Through this project we also intend to provide these individuals and businesses with access to online marketing tools and platforms.
ACAD will revise and rebrand our leadership team to better serve the District. We will work to foster and grow within the District and work with the city and community to bring in more artists and desired creative enterprises to our area. Our partnerships will foster suitable revenue through memberships and collaborative events. We will bring in cultural linguistic specialists and diversity and inclusion experts to help implement viable cultural marketing strategies. A marketing company will be contracted to help ACAD executive the plan. ACAD will create a quarterly check-in process to ensure cultural marketing productivity is efficient and on track for implementation. While the planning process will only take up to a year, we expect the implementation process to continue in perpetuity to maintain our efforts and commitment to the local community as the District experiences growth. The intent is to make sure that all community voices are heard and that artist events and efforts are a true reflection of the cultures and the community that lives here.
ACAD and the City of Aurora are looking to do things a little differently with our District. Through this process, we plan to uncover what is most essential for ACAD to be the vessel for our creative community. Our ultimate goal, while interlaced with marketing, is to do what we can to protect the District from gentrification and avoid its adverse impacts wherever possible. Instead, we are looking to uplift the community as it exists. We are pushing to be the change that many cities have been looking for when it comes to striking a balance and allowing revitalization without gentrification and displacement. Cultural aspects of the District have worked as barriers when they could be assets, but through our proposed cultural marketing plan, we can educate the public on the importance and uniqueness of the District. Our goal is to assist and create a cohesive understanding of the community in and out of our District.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

The ACADIA Project

Class

Arts, Culture & Humanities 

Beneficiaries

Immigrants, Newcomers, Refuges

Description

This exciting new program will identify refugee and immigrant artists in Aurora and help them build their creative businesses to market and sell their works. This program is open to artists working in the visual arts, culinary fields, makers and other creative endeavors. As part of this program artists and creatives will receive free mentoring, marketing and portfolio workshops, access to financing, display space and help presenting their work to American buyers.

The majority of program activities will be located in the Aurora Cultural Arts District, along the Colfax Corridor. This area is among the most culturally diverse areas in Colorado, with nearly 40% of the adult population identifying as foreign born. 136 languages are spoken in Aurora's public school system and communities. These refugees and immigrants bring with them a set of artistic skills and abilities that are easily transferrable to America, where they find a ready audience that seeks out unique artistic expression. The target area has high levels of poverty, 43% of families living below the poverty line; therefore, assisting newly arrived individuals with developing their artistic endeavors addresses economic challenges, ensures the success of the local community and diversifies the local art scene.

The idea for the program was borne from community conversations with over 18 partners in early 2015. These groups desired more engagement with our refugee and immigrant neighbors, varied approaches to economic development and support for these groups.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

This year was the start-up year for the ACADIA Project program. The first of the year our team met and created an action plan, timeline, bi-lingual application, distribution strategy, and guiding document to begin the program.

We created and distributed bi-lingual program applications with our partners at Community Enterprise Development Services and Fax Aurora and spent a considerable amount of time getting the word out about the program to community organizations in Aurora. We found outreach to area partners was key in building trust and connecting with potential candidates. We accepted all of our applicants as part of our first-year program.

Participants in this year's pilot program included eight immigrant and refugee artists and
creatives from Aurora, Colorado. These included an Indian dance instructor, three Hispanic
dance company leaders, a Russian glass blower, two photographers from Iraq, and an African art and music event promoter.

Once we pulled together a solid pool of interested people we set up interviews with each
creative to assess their artistic business goals and needs. After our interviews were complete, we held a kick off meeting with the artists and creatives in our program so they could better get to know our team and the other candidates.

At the kick off meeting we continued to work with our participants on what they were
interested in achieving and began connecting them with opportunities and mentors in their
chosen fields.

In tandem, the management team continued our fundraising efforts to raise additional dollars. ACAD secured additional funding from the City of Aurora for $7500 and additional sponsorship dollars from Conoco/Phillps and Walmart for $2500. These dollars helped our team create a series of special events called the Colorado Immigrant Festival, IMMI-FEST for short, to showcase the work of the creatives in our program as well as attract and promote other immigrant and refugees in Aurora. Each festival focused on a different cultural group. (African, Caribbean and Latino) All three partner organizations contributed other resources to the project including staff time, rehearsal and performance space, equipment rental, materials, advisement and operational support.

Our initial timeline was to complete our program with each candidate by the end of the year.
We found the timeline needed to be adjusted as we needed more time than expected with
some of the candidates to find the appropriate mentor and create their final portfolios.
We will continue to mentor each candidate for 2018. We will be providing all the candidates
with a free Home-Based Business workshop provided by Fax Aurora and the Aurora Cultural
Arts District. CEDS is still continuing to work with our candidates on their financial needs and
professional connections.

Throughout the year we have had a lot of interest in our program and now have a waiting list of interested participants. Next year, we will continue to engage stakeholders in the creative
community and refugee/immigrant populations living in zip codes 80010, 80011, and 80012.
These zip codes are among the most racially and ethnically diverse areas of Colorado. The district is a recipient of two financial awards this year for the program from the Denver Foundation and Arts in Society.

ACAD Community Gallery Exhibitions

Class

Arts, Culture & Humanities 

Beneficiaries

Asian/Pacific Islander
Ethnic/Racial Minorities - General
Hispanics
Homeless
Immigrants/Newcomers/Refugees

Description

The ACAD Gallery is currently being programmed to support local artists in our community. We often provide free space to organizations in need of exhibition space in the district. These include Tonos Latino, Aurora Warms the Night, Project Worthmore, Picture.Me.Here and the Asian Pacific Development Denver. We are expanding this program to highlight the district's cultural assets.

Photos

Evidence of Program's Success

Our event attendance over all in the district in increasing. In 2013 we tracked 75,000 visitors in the district. 2014 we welcomed 97,000 visitors to our district. We also poll our partners and they have provided us with data that their direct events are attracting families and individuals directly from the neighborhood. The two fundraising events we've held for Project Worth more have generated over $28,000 for their refugee organization.

Key aspects of this profile information have been reviewed by Community First Foundation staff. Each organization is exclusively responsible for the content that appears on the profile page. Community First Foundation offers general guidance as to the purpose of each area but does not require or encourage charities to include anything in particular in each section.