Around 40 people attended a creative district community meeting at the Midwest Theater in downtown Scottsbluff Monday.
As residents snacked on soda and popcorn, residents learned more about the process behind the proposed Scottsbluff creative district.
Members of the district steering committee, which was formed in fall 2021, presented its plans.
Kristin Wiebe, a member of the steering committee, said, “The idea is that any day of the week … you know there’s something going on in the district, and I think we already see the excitement for that.”
The proposed district would be located along Broadway and its surrounding streets in addition to East Overland. The Creative District Program is overseen by the Nebraska Arts Council.
Several other cities across Nebraska have creative districts already, but steering committee members told the audience that Scottsbluff would be inidividualized.
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“A creative district in Scottsbluff will not look like a creative district in another part of the state. It may have some of the same elements but it should be shaped by the creative community that is here in this case,” Wiebe said.
The committee’s current plans are to build a directory of the local creative community, start a committee to plan murals, complete a required workbook process from the Nebraska Arts Council, and reach out to as many local businesses as possible for input.
“The steering committee has been involved in making sure everyone’s at the table and thinking about what those pieces are, spelling out the plan to go forward,” Wiebe said. “…Each person here represents an interest different to each other, but we share a sense that this is our town, our place, and we see a potential for arts, music and making spaces here for creative forces to grow.”
She said the steering committee consists of both economic development experts and talented “creatives” to reflect multiple goals of what the creative district could offer Scottsbluff.
“We want to build this for everybody. We don’t want to just build it for the creatives … we want all the business people and all our monuments and museums to be involved,” Michele Denton, the director of the Western Nebraska Arts Center and another steering committee member, added.
During the meeting, attendees were tasked with coming up with six-word stories to demonstrate what they’d like to see in a creative district. These were added to the numerous goals and ideas that members of the public had thought of at previous informational sessions earlier in the year.
The public also provided a few suggestions to the committee. They wanted it to include more outreach to businesses on East Overland, more attractions that would appeal to children and teenagers and a way to ensure that the community would actually support participating creatives.
The committee members said they’d be providing a survey in both English and Spanish to get more input into what community members prefer a creative district to be like. Future steps are to compile branding and marketing and to host the Nebraska Arts Council for a site visit in late October.
As Wiebe put it, the district is still a work in progress. She said it’s important for the committee to field ideas as to what its priorities should be.