Op Ed: Ten Ways RiNo Is Advocating for Its Artists
Rino Art District

Op Ed: Ten Ways RiNo Is Advocating for Its Artists

We ran into artist Tracy Weil, who co-founded the RiNo Art District more than a decade ago, at the opening of CRUSH on September 11; during the seventh edition of this annual event, 100 artists from around the globe are creating murals in the greater RiNo area. But the RiNo Art District's work with and for artists is a year-round commitment in this rapidly changing neighborhood. "Contrary to popular belief," says Weil, "we actually have more artists working and exhibiting in the art district than ever! Yes, it's ever-changing, that's for sure, but I feel like what we are doing is making a difference in keeping artists and creatives here long-term."

Keep reading for Weil's list of ten ways RiNo is advocating for artists.

RiNo on the first day of CRUSH 2017.EXPAND
RiNo on the first day of CRUSH 2017.
Kenzie Bruce

1. The RiNo Business Improvement District (BID) has spent $40,000 over the past two years to further the development of the ArtSpace project in RiNo. This project will create 100 to 130 affordable live/work spaces for artists and musicians, slated for completion in the next few years in the RiNo Art District.

2. The RiNo BID has contributed $50,000+ each year to assist in the CRUSH street mural event in the district. The RiNo Art District has also contributed staff time, marketing support and artists' stipends to this project over the past few years. All funds are specifically focused toward local artists.

Artist Pat Milbery at RiNo's World Trade Center Denver Collaboration at OZ Architecture.EXPAND
Artist Pat Milbery at RiNo's World Trade Center Denver Collaboration at OZ Architecture.
RiNo Art District

3. Through sponsorship and grant funds, the RiNo Art District has provided dollars directly to artists for other public-art projects district-wide. This includes the 38th Street Underpass project with the Arts & Venues P.S. You Are Here Grant, which will create an artistic lighting and mural intervention; the budget for this alone is over $100,000.

4. The RiNo Art District led the charge in working with the City of Denver on moving the Safe Occupancy Program forward. The program includes a conditional building occupancy for un-permitted spaces that will ensure life safety, limit displacement and allow extended deadlines and collaborative solutions to achieve code compliance. RiNo is working with city leadership on developing a fund for artists to be able to bring their DIY spaces up to code.

The first day of CRUSH 2017EXPAND
The first day of CRUSH 2017
Kenzie Bruce

5. The RiNo Art District, with help from the RiNo BID, will open its new RiNo Made store in early 2018. The RiNo Art District has also funded various RiNo Made pop-up events where our artists and makers can sell their work. Artists receive 60 percent of the proceeds of the sale; 40 percent will be put into operating costs and other artist initiatives district-wide. The district was just awarded a grant from Colorado Creative Industries for $10,000 that will help fund the store’s artist education and training as well as business support.

6. The RiNo Art District continues to advocate for its artists and galleries, as it has since its inception. This includes constantly communicating with stakeholders and developers on the importance of keeping artists in the district long-term. GRACe, Bindery on Blake, Formativ, Zeppelin Development, Ken Wolf Properties and Backyard on Blake are some of our success stories.

RiNo Art District surveying artists earlier this year.
RiNo Art District surveying artists earlier this year.
RiNo Art District

7. World Trade Center Denver Collaboration: The RiNo Art District recently put together a workshop with the developers (Formativ) and architects (OZ Architecture) of the new World Trade Center Denver. This workshop included 45 artists who contributed ideas and ways that art and artists can be included at this new world destination. This will be an ongoing series, involving artists from the beginning of the project and also creating ways for artists to be involved long-term, from studio and gallery space, to paid public-art commissions, to sister-city exhibitions and trade.

8. RiNo Park Art Center: The RiNo Art District is working on collaborating with Denver Parks & Recreation and the Denver Public Library on creating a new art center concept in the RiNo Park slated for completion in 2019. This space will have temporary maker and studio spaces as well public outdoor space for performances and festivals. The art center project will focus on engagement with the four historic neighborhoods that RiNo Art District is part of: Globeville, Elyria/Swansea, Cole and Five Points. The RiNo Art District will also collaborate with area non-profits as part of its mission.

RiNo on the first day of CRUSH 2017.EXPAND
RiNo on the first day of CRUSH 2017.
Kenzie Bruce

9. The RiNo Art District has also been working with the neighboring communities to identify their emerging artists and makers to provide opportunities and help them hone their craft and market their work. This effort will also produce unfiltered creative projects that communicate the impact of change that all of our artists and community members are experiencing. Watch for more in the coming months.

10. Affordability Overlay: The RiNo Art District is working with the City of Denver and Denver City Council to create an affordability overlay at the 38th and Blake Street commuter-rail station. Typically, these types of overlays are for residential only; this new overlay is unique and will include a commercial component as well as residential. The overlay will focus on uses that will serve our community, with efforts to provide more affordable artist and creative space.

Artists at the World Trade Center Denver Collaboration at OZ Architecture.EXPAND
Artists at the World Trade Center Denver Collaboration at OZ Architecture.
RiNo Art District

Bonus.  Pay-What-You-Can Artist Memberships: Artists located in the district can join the district at a pay-what-you-can level. Membership includes a listing on the RiNo Art District website and inclusion in all of our marketing materials, events and promotion.

We encourage artists to get involved and be present to help shift the paradigm. As artists, our voices can help drive change.

Artists statistics for the RiNo Art District from 2005 to 2017.

Artist Tracy Weil is the creative director and co-founder of the Rino Art District. Find out more about the district at Rinoartdistrict.org; learn more about Weil's own art at tracyweil.com. CRUSH 2017 continues through Sunday, September 17; get all the details at crushwalls.org.

Westword occasionally publishes op-ed pieces about local issues. Have an opinion you'd like to share? E-mail editorial@westword.com.

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