York earns Creative District status and grant

YORK — The York Creative District was recently granted verified Creative District status by the Nebraska Arts Council and was awarded a $10,000 Nebraska Arts Council Certification Grant, according to York City Administrator Dr. Sue Crawford.

The Nebraska Creative District Program utilizes the arts as an economic driver to support communities in Nebraska by telling their stories and elevating the value of the arts.

The York Creative District includes the downtown area and extends to include York University and York Public Schools. The application for Creative District designation identified the uses for the first $10,000 grant. Those projects will be happening in this first year. The largest project will be a cultural and musical event later in 2024. Other projects supported by the initial grant include micro-murals, or small pops-of-art and the creation of a digital strategy and tools to connect individuals to art opportunities and art performances across the community. The grant included additional three-year and five-year goals and projects to expand arts events and opportunities.

“One of the amazing parts of the process has been the different activities that have already happened in our community because we were having these conversations,” said Dr. Clark Roush, a member of the city’s advisory committee for this project. “One example of arts that came out of the initial conversations was the Summer Concert Series co-sponsored by Kilgore Memorial Library and Allo Communications this summer. The transformation of the ivy-covered brick wall that sits at the entrance of the downtown from the south was another.”

Dr. Crawford helped to facilitate the early meetings and helped with the grant-writing process. According to Dr. Crawford, only 21 cities in Nebraska have earned Creative District status. “The status not only invigorates our local efforts, but it also qualifies us for additional arts grant funding to support more ambitious projects in the community,” she said.

The advisory board and volunteer committees will begin meeting soon. The volunteer committees include: Visual Arts, Theater, Music, Events, and an Involvement Committee that will focus on fostering participation in the committees and events. If someone is interested in getting involved with any of these committees, they are asked to take the volunteer interest survey. They can find a link on the front page of the city website (www.cityofyork.net). The survey will be available through December 10.

Work to create and certify the York Creative District began with an informal group of volunteers who met about once a month to build momentum for the arts in the community. These conversations then led to conversations about getting the York Creative District established and certified. Dr. Roush, Endowed Chair for the Performing Arts at York University, led several community conversations with people of different ages and backgrounds to develop the application materials. Over 100 people from York completed a survey to indicate the kinds of arts programming they like in the community and what they would like to see expanded. The survey reinforced the volunteer committee’s belief that performing arts were a strength in York and that demand for more performing arts and cultural events exists.

A broad range of community organizations in York came on board to support the York Creative District including, York University, York Public Schools, Yorkshire Theater, York County Development Corporation, Greater York Chamber of Commerce, York Visitor Bureau and the City of York. The community organization support includes committing to providing at least one person for the York Creative District Advisory Board and one person for one of the York Creative District Committees. The Advisory Board will also include an additional artist in the community and a person who runs a creative business in the York Creative District. Dr. Roush has agreed to serve as the York Creative District director.

In 2020, the Nebraska State legislature passed a bill to create the Creative Districts program. The program works to promote and support economic development and placemaking opportunities in communities dedicated to growing their arts-related economic sectors.

Nebraska Creative Districts must submit a letter of interest, an eligibility assessment and a strategic plan as part of the approval process.  Goals can include attracting artists and creative enterprises, encouraging business and job development, establishing the district as a tourist destination, preserving and reusing historic buildings, and promoting the district’s cultural and historical heritage.

For more information about the Creative District program, visit the Nebraska Arts Council website at www.artscouncil.nebraska.gov/explore/creative-districts/ or call the office at 402-595-2122.

For more information about the York Creative District, contact Crawford, City of York, 402-363-2600, scrawford@cityofyork.net. Or go to cityofyork.net – Creative District Link: City of York – York Creative District. 




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