CRAFT Case Study: Grand County

Grand County was awarded a CRAFT Recovery Mentor program by the Colorado Tourism Office in fall 2020 to advance recovery efforts related to the COVID-19 pandemic and the 2020 wildfire season.

The objective of this CRAFT Recovery Mentor program was to convene an inclusive and collaborative group of Grand County Creative Industry stakeholders to support individual and collective artist and art organizations and build the destination’s reputation through COVID-19 and regeneration from the East Troublesome Fire.

CRAFT Mentor Program Results

Grand County was paired with Heidi Pankow, a CRAFT Mentor with over 30 years experience in tourism marketing, rural and collaborative destination development, communication, and public relations, to achieve the following outcomes: 

  • Convened and facilitated five meetings of creative arts industry stakeholders to solicit participation in a county-wide creative arts coalition.
  • Developed a governance structure for the Grand Creative Coalition, including main points of contact. 
  • Facilitated stakeholder discussions focused on shared visioning and action planning for collaborative project implementation. Priority actions for the Grand Creative Coalition included: 
    • Create a survey for county-wide creative stakeholders, artists, and community and arts organizations to collect contact information, survey the types of artists in the county, and gauge interest in county-wide collaborations. 
    • Integrate the county’s creative industries in the newly developed arts and heritage mapping platform Vamonde. 
    • Support all the creative businesses that offer classes to use a shared platform managed by one of the local arts organizations, allowing visitors and locals to access learning opportunities in one central location.
    • Expand the role of the coalition to provide regular county-wide communications, collaborative events and opportunities. 
    • Begin discussions about offering county-wide studio tours, demonstrations, events for residents and visitors.
  • Built awareness of the coalition within Grand County creative industry stakeholders, artists, and arts organizations. Tactics included:
    • Distribution of the survey through direct contacts of the county liaison, chambers, tourism boards and arts organizations to collect contact information, identify creative assets, and individual interest in participation in the coalition. The survey  received 58 responses. 
    • A press release about the coalition and the link to the survey that was included in the Ski-Hi news March 3, 2021. 
    • Planning and facilitation of a county-wide virtual workshop with 29 attendees to review survey results, provide a case study of the Colorado Creative Corridor, and guide discussion on action planning. 

“The CRAFT Recovery Mentor program was critical in moving the Grand Creative Coalition forward.  This group unites artists, venues, entrepreneurs and others to work together to cross-promote all products and events in the region.  In March 2021, the committee and the mentor organized a community meeting to announce the group and learn about the possibilities with examples from other communities.  That was followed up by a planning meeting in April with project announcements such as an online marketplace, upcoming collaborative events, and regional partnerships to promote the Historic, Cultural, Arts and Heritage hidden gems of the county.”  DiAnn Butler, Grand County Economic Development


About CRAFT Mentor


The Colorado Tourism Office (CTO) developed the Colorado Rural Academy For Tourism (CRAFT) to support communities across the state integrate tourism into their economic development strategies and develop new visitor experiences aimed at attracting increased traveler spending.  

The CRAFT Recovery Mentor program provides up to 50 hours of mentoring for Colorado tourism partners to advance one or more tourism strategies that bolsters their response to a recent crisis or natural disaster.


DiAnn Butler
Grand County Economic Development Coordinator