NASAA Notes: April 2024

April 3, 2024

Idaho, Nebraska, Washington: Tri-State Partnership for Creative Districts Webinar Series

Creative districts are a powerful strategy for encouraging place based economic activity and community development, and 17 state arts agencies currently run cultural district programs that oversee more than 400 individual districts. To assist cultural district and creative development managers in running their districts, the Idaho Commission on the Arts (Arts Idaho), Nebraska Arts Council and the Washington State Arts Commission (ArtsWA), have partnered to present a Tri-State Webinar series on creative district and community development strategies.

Creative Districts Tri-State Webinar Session 1: Community Engagement. Video courtesy of Arts Idaho, Nebraska Arts Council and ArtsWA

The first webinar session, Community Engagement, highlights four necessary components for growing creative districts: building the process, inclusion, language and communication, and relationship building. Each part of the conversation provides detailed practices that prioritize intentional planning and community buy-in.

The first step, building the process, focuses on how new and up-and-coming districts can prepare for success:

  • Determining staff and individual capacity
  • Engaging in long-term planning, for example, using ArtsWA’s Community Readiness Toolkit
  • Identifying extant community groups, like service organizations, libraries and craft circles, that can help provide initial outreach

Inclusion refers to the process of creating a sense of belonging. For bourgeoning creative districts, this can mean:

  • Finding physically accessible and neutral spaces where community members feel welcome
  • Identifying community assets, individuals and organizations and reaching out to those who are missing from your meetings
  • Analyzing the demographics of your community and whether you have an accurate representation during your planning

Relationship building is about building long-term trust and mutually beneficial programs, which appears as:

  • Considering how to keep post-certification and post-project conversations alive
  • Conducting feedback sessions and use a variety of survey tools to gauge process and level of engagement

Intentional language and communication is essential for building partnerships, and creative district managers should consider:

  • Developing a communications plan that outlines with whom, and how, you will communicate
  • Defining what your creative district will be for your specific community and how it will benefit your local community
  • Finding community and state partners who can translate and communicate across all languages present in your community

Each of the three state arts agency representatives presenting in the webinar draws on their expertise in directing their state’s cultural district program or community development initiatives. You can read more about the creative districts at ArtsWA and Nebraska Arts Council and the community initiatives at Arts Idaho by following the respective links:

The second session in this series of workshops took place on March 28, discussing organizational structures, sustainability strategy and leadership models for creative districts. A webinar on creative districts within rural communities was released in 2022 that featured the challenges and opportunities unique to rural creative districts. For more information, contact Arts Idaho Community Development Director Alison Espindola, Nebraska Arts Council Program Specialist Rachel Morgan or ArtsWA Community Development Manager Annette Roth.

You can read more about state arts agency strategies for cultural districts in NASAA’s Cultural Districts Strategy Sampler and Cultural Districts Policy Brief.

In this Issue

From the President and CEO

State to State

Legislative Update

The Research Digest

Announcements and Resources

More Notes from NASAA




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