Space to Create Colorado

Program Summary

Space to Create Colorado assists communities with the development of affordable live-work and commercial spaces. Non-residential spaces are available for creative enterprises and organizations that serve critical community needs. The program is the nation’s first state-led initiative for affordable housing for creative sector workers in rural areas.

Space to Create Colorado will support nine projects throughout Colorado’s rural communities. In 2015, Trinidad was selected as the community for the first demonstration project.

Communities selected for Space to Create Colorado include Trinidad, Ridgway, Grand Lake, and Salida.

Each project is customized to meet local community needs and goals. After a community is accepted to Space to Create Colorado, artists and creatives can apply for residency in those projects. 

Space to Create Colorado utilizes Artspace as the lead consultant for feasibility and market studies. Space to Create Colorado projects are eligible for funding from the Boettcher Foundation.

Map of Space to Create projects in Colorado


Type: Consulting/technical assistance and grant

For: Municipalities with Colorado Creative Districts

OEDIT division: Colorado Creative Industries

Read more: Artspace Colorado Case Study

Communities are prioritized based on readiness, public will, local resources, and housing demands.

The following communities have been selected for Space to Create Colorado projects:

  • Trinidad 
  • Ridgway 
  • Grand Lake
  • Salida
  • Carbondale

Requirements for consideration

To apply for this program, your community needs to have:

  • certified as a CCI Creative District
  • geographically distant from urban areas
  • a creative sector workforce
  • historic buildings available for adaptive re-use
  • property available for development
  • a local governing body and local partners willing to provide money and other resources
  • a steering committee to manage the project

Requirements after selection

If your community is selected for Space to Create Colorado, you need to:

  • enter into a memorandum of understanding with local partners and include it in your full application
  • enter into a memorandum of understanding with Space to Create Colorado
  • identify a $35,000 cash match for feasibility and art market studies
  • designate a local point of contact for planning documents, payments, community engagement, site selection
  • identify paid staff from community partners to lead public engagement meetings for the feasibility study and art market study, marketing the art market survey, and communication with community groups about the process
  • prove capacity and willingness to contribute to project pre-development and capital expenses
  • remain a certified creative district

If your community wants to receive matching funds from the Colorado Department of Local Affairs, your lead applicant needs to be a municipal government.

Preferred qualifications

To make your application competitive, you will need to:

  • describe the financial health of the municipal budget
  • identify up to $35,000 to fund part of feasibility, art market, and pre-development studies
  • develop capacity and willingness to contribute to project development and capital expenses (project predevelopment costs are typically 10% of total project cost)
  • organize a group of local leaders to provide logistical and tactical support for community engagement during the study phases
  • identify necessary municipal staff resources of time and capacity
  • develop a proof of concentration and types of creative sector and workforce
  • make sure that affordable live/workspace for creative enterprises and artists are part of the community’s planning documents and strategic plans
  • identify available properties and buildings
  • know the property owners in and around the creative district and Main Street program or development area
  • work with your Colorado Department of Local Affairs regional manager and update them of your community’s work and progress

Currently, applications for potential projects are being reviewed through the Community Revitalization Grant Application. After your application is approved, the phases are:

  • feasibility and market studies – seven months
  • predevelopment, including site control, architectural work, and securing financing – one to two years
  • construction – one to three years

The Space to Create Colorado initiative is currently using the following application process:  

  1. Submit a Community Revitalization Grant pre-application through the Colorado Creative Industries Grant portal. Log in to your account or create a new account.
  2. The Steering Committee reviews pre-applications and invites selected communities to submit a full application.
  3. After the community signs a memorandum of understanding with Space to Create Colorado, the community engagement and feasibility phase will start. When the feasibility and market studies are complete, Artspace will determine whether a project is feasible and can continue.

Letter of interest

A community’s letter of interest needs to be at most two pages and include:

  • name of the applying municipality
  • description of a community’s readiness for the Space to Create Colorado Program
  • background in creative sector development
  • reason for community interest
  • statement of community financial readiness
  • steering committee or partnership makeup description
  • description of how the public and how creative industry representatives will participate in the process
  • example of a completed collaborative community project
  • description of any work your community has already done to identify the need for creative sector work and live spaces
  • other relevant information such as planning documents that include
  • creative sector and/or housing and commercial space as an economic development strategy or priority

Community Revitalization/ Space to Create application

We recommend typing your answers in a word processing program, checking your word counts, then copy-pasting the text into the online application. The application narrative should include some of the following:

  • summarize the goals of Space to Create for your community 
  • describe the organizational structures of the partners submitting this application for Space to Create 
  • describe how the partners plan to engage the community in the Space to Create process 
  • describe how the community has budgeted funding for the matching funds of $35,000 for Feasibility Study and Arts Market Survey 
  • describe the economic development resources available to support the Space to Create project. For example, urban renewal authority, business improvement district, enterprise zone, housing authority, council of governments 
  • describe the time and capacity of municipal staff to manage the Space to Create project. How will the municipal staff work with other community organizations to host public meetings, market the arts market survey, and communicate among local and state organizations? 
  • submit a current municipal budget

Attachments should include:

  • memorandum of Understanding between the lead applicant and the local partner organizations
  • resolution by the municipal government that endorses the application and pledges $35,000 for the feasibility study and arts market survey
  • list of steering committee members, including names, titles, and affiliations
  • three letters of support from local partners, combined into one PDF
  • list of the available property with site control status, which you will include on the Creative Industries Asset map (Excel file)
  • Creative Industries Asset map for your community. The map should include: 
    • creative businesses, both for-profit and nonprofit
    • public gathering places such as plazas and parks
    • historical sites, buildings, and/or districts
    • public art
    • available property listed in the attachment
  • up to three additional items that make the case for your community to participate in the Space to Create program

You will need to contact the community’s project lead organization to find out how it is accepting applications for future tenants. The entire Space to Create process takes several years to complete. Communities typically start accepting applications closer to the date of the grand opening of the building.

The following communities have been selected as Space to Create communities:

  • Trinidad - Fully leased
  • Ridgway - Applications open
  • Grand Lake - Applications not yet open
  • Salida - Applications not yet open

If you are interested in learning more about Space to Create Colorado, please fill out the form below.

Community Partners

Program Manager

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