More than two decades ago, visionary leaders in Loveland saw the value of arts in our community and decided to act on that vision. They made funding arts a priority and passed the Arts in Public Places Program, setting aside 1 percent of all Loveland capital projects to be used toward the arts. This wouldn’t have happened in a lot of communities around the country. But Loveland isn’t like a lot of other communities. We have a history of recognizing the important role arts play in our local economy, culture, and quality of life. And we have a history of supporting initiatives that increase rather than diminish that role. It is that history that makes me believe we are on the verge of once again being a leader in the arts, and becoming the first community in Colorado to partner with ArtSpace Development to bring a work/live space for artists in Loveland.
At last night’s City Council meeting, the council gave the nod to city staff to move forward on the pre-development of an ArtSpace project downtown. This project would provide artists with affordable living, working and gallery space, and is drawing widespread interest from our community and throughout Northern Colorado. We still have a long way to go to see this project to fruition, but last night was one big step forward.
Credit certainly goes to the members of City Council who supported this move and those in the community who worked so hard over the last several months – sometimes longer. The folks at Novo Restoration deserve a special shout out for seeing the opportunity to bring ArtSpace to Loveland, and then relentlessly pursuing it for more than a year.
ArtSpace promises many great things for downtown Loveland, and is just one in a series of exciting projects in the mix to redevelop downtown. It increases density – an important component in smart growth, creates another destination downtown, and brings more people and dollars into the cultural core of our city. It’s also an excellent example of private-public partnership, as ArtSpace will be responsible for the facility’s operation and management. Those costs won’t fall on the city.
Last night’s City Council meeting was exciting whether you’re an artist, an art enthusiast, a downtown activist, or just someone who cares about the community in which you live. But it’s important to remember that this is just one in a long list of important projects for downtown. That’s because no project can invigorate the arts community or revitalize downtown on its own, whether it’s ArtSpace, the Rialto Bridge, museum expansion, the Pullium Building, and the Loveland Arts Economic Development Center. It would be a mistake to think of this list as a menu in which you can pick one or two and then pass on the rest. Each project will of course have to be judged on its merits, but we should look at them as part of a feast, needed for a downtown that has been lacking nourishment for too long.
So I hope Lovelanders will come together in working to make all these projects happen and make our community an even better place. I believe that by following our history of looking forward, we can reinforce our reputation as a hub for the arts, and we can all enjoy the revitalized downtown and stronger economy that go with it.