CRAFT Case Study: Crestone Creative Districts, Crestone

Crestone Creative District celebrates the widely recognized creative arts community of Crestone Colorado. Established in the 1800's as a gold mining town, today Crestone is a cultural center, alive with diversity and futuristic vision. It is also a wilderness hub, next door to pristine alpine lakes, sand dunes, a wildlife refuge and mountains which attract recreationists who come to experience the extraordinary beauty of the landscape and what many consider some of the best climbing and hiking opportunities in the State of Colorado. Over 25 spiritual centers with their monasteries, stupas. ashrams, labyrinths, medicine wheels, and sweat lodges attract thousands of visitors each year. The U.S. News and World Report in November 2007 designated Crestone, Colorado as one of the 13 most spiritual places in the world. Like the hidden, remote city of Shangri-la, Crestone beckons travelers to come, to experience – and to remember.

Mentor: Gaylene Ore
A travel, tourism and consumer marketing specialist, Gaylene brings more than 25 years of related experience to her client relationships. Before starting Ore Communications in 1999, she worked as marketing and PR director for luxury
resorts, Sol Vista Ski Area (previously Silver Creek) and the Winter Park & Fraser Chamber, which later became her first client. Gaylene has worked in media markets throughout Colorado and the nation, earning recognition for companies and nonprofit organizations. She has garnered placements in major metropolitan and national newspapers and magazines, for major wire services, websites, TV and radio.

CRAFT Project Overview, Deliverables and Results:

  • Provide facilitation and drafting support, with active participation and input by the Crestone team, to create the marketing plan.
  • Create a brief focused written marketing plan that aligns with the Crestone Creative District Strategic Plan.
  • Provide early implementation support that can strengthen messaging, website, free press placement, media content (video), and promotion of the town.

“Our assigned mentor, Gaylene, was simply wonderful. She guided us through the thickets of effective marketing, definitely not our strong suit, and put us into a 'jump start' mode. The CRAFT program was the spark we needed.” Kairina Danforth, Crestone Mayor and Executive Director of the Crestone Creative District.

Results To-date:

  • Prices for local artwork are climbing.
  • More tourists (statewide, national, and even international).
  • Increased marketing collaboration and joining together of the local community, its Baca subdivision neighbors, and the generally isolated spiritual centers.
  • Social media outreach is now in place, with creative, effective, and timely administration.
  • Gaylene Ore secured coverage by Fox 21 News, which resulted in a four segment series promoting Crestone Artists annual Studio Tour.
  • A community created vision for the Creative District's signage and way-finding plan is nearly complete.
  • Recognizing the need for more effective marketing efforts, Crestone events and attractions are, for the first time, included increasingly in tourism publications.

Words of Encouragement for Peers:
“The results speak for themselves. That 'leg up' is helping our district develop a new, state of the art website and use social media, free press opportunities and the resources of the Colorado Tourism Office far more effectively. We are hoping potential CRAFT grantees will watch our recently premiered film. A long time ago, the Native-Americans had a name for Crestone. It was A'taynang, which meant a place of the heart. “ Kairina Danforth

Clicking on the following link will take them to a short (eight minute) recently premiered film about Crestone. It is entitled, 'A Place of the Heart'.

Has your new venture inspired further expansion with your project or others in your community?
Three businesses have nominated Crestone for $500,000 CDBG national grant for the transformation of a small town. The awarded towns are selected through a nationwide online voting. Their new social media and web site will increase their exposure/presence and odds of winning the voting. The grant would be used to develop sidewalks, downtown beautification.

“Thank you for helping us now to find the real gold in Crestone.” Kairina Danforth