Keeping Our Community Unique And Thriving

First Southwest Bank • February 5, 2019

Imagine a supported creative community with ample collaboration, inclusivity and financial support; a community that unites the creative individuals and organizations that keep Durango unique and thriving. First Southwest Bank believes in this vision and is excited to be helping the Creative District initiative in Durango.

We asked Local First representative, Hayley Kirkman, to tell us a little bit more about what a Creative District is, why Durango should create one, and what the process looks like. Here’s what she had to say:

Creative District. We’ve heard the phrase, but what exactly does it mean?

The Creative District Certification process focuses on defining specific geographic areas that can attract artists and creative entrepreneurs to a community, infuse new energy and innovation and enhance economic and civic capital. Creative Districts are hubs of economic activity, enhancing the area as an appealing place to live, visit and conduct business, as well as generate new economic activity. The Creative District process in Durango began in 2011.

Why do you think this would be such a great thing for the City of Durango?

Most importantly a Creative District in Durango would unite different creative individuals and organizations — many community members have stated that they would like to see more collaboration between creative entities, more inclusivity, greater support from the city and more education on the importance on the creative economy that keeps Durango unique and thriving. In addition to actively engaging our community and developing our very own creative goals, Durango can leverage its status as a Creative District to receive ample marketing opportunities, more grants/funding on state and national levels, and greater partnerships with other Creative Districts in Colorado.

I am personally passionate about this initiative because we get to work together to develop a unique brand and narrative for our creative residents — an "umbrella" that community members will take complete pride in. I am excited for Durango to be able to position itself as an economic hub for incredibly talented makers and artisans. When we achieve this, we will poise our community for success and establish greater value for people in these creative fields.

Sounds awesome! How can people get involved?

This is truly a community-powered effort and we’re excited about the overwhelming support.

Community members are welcome to learn more and sign up for our newsletter at From there, they can learn about joining a working stakeholder group that interests them. There are five groups that persons of any age or creative affiliation can join an include strategic planning, legal structure, branding, community outreach and funding, creative asset mapping, and geographic inclusion.

Community members are also encouraged to "mix and mingle" at our fun Creative Connection hours. The inaugural event will be held at Sorrel Sky Gallery on Wednesday, February 6 from 5-7pm. Enjoy refreshments while getting to know your community! These events will be held every other month, and are hosted in different creative venues throughout the year.  

Finally, people can help the Creative District effort by donating. We have a goal of raising $20,000 before the Fall of 2019 to go towards Local First staffing operations! We are a few thousand dollars short of reaching this goal, and we need the community's support. While we have formed a broad coalition of volunteers from multiple organizations, in-kind consultants and in-kind marketers, the Local First team is still contributing 10-20 hours weekly to facilitate the stakeholder meetings, engage the community, and write grants for this organization.


First Southwest Bank is dedicated to giving back to local, independent businesses and donated $4,000 towards the initial stakeholder process. The funds will be used to fund the lead organization needed to facilitate the stakeholder meetings, organize “Creative Connection” hours around town, write grants, and manage the Creative District’s web and social media presence. In addition to being a “Creative Kickstarter” for this community-wide effort, the FSWB team is working with the steering committee to institute a creative loan fund program.