Create Denver gets a makeover in 2013

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Last month Create Denver invited residents to Come Play in the Park, an informal BYO-picnic celebration designed to raise awareness of the sights and amenities of Civic Center Park and its newest cultural jewel: the refurbished McNichols Building, the one-time Carnegie Library reborn as a gallery and event space. It also showcased The City Beautiful 2.0, a Create Denver co-working space and collaboration with local artists, architects and designers, and culminated after dark with large-scale video mapping directly on the back of the building. That program detailed, in changing patterns and light, the progression of the structure through history into a morphing receptacle of creative energy.

See also: - City Beautiful 2.0: Bringing the Outside In - Arty Party: Come Play in the Park - Best Civic Makeover - 2013: McNichols Building

It was also a less obvious metaphor for the changing face of Create Denver, which this year canceled the culturally concentrated annual Create Denver Week in favor of year-round programming. But as Create Denver's Lisa Gedgaudas notes, that's not really all the division does: "People usually think we are programming-based, but the efforts are year-round for business development, district development and economic development around Denver's creative sector. One of my next pieces of work will be around mapping cultural assets through open data sources and possible crowd sourcing." The project takes cues from the City of Philadelphia's online CultureBlocks cultural atlas, which can be used by people seeking out the city's arts assets, as well as by creatives looking for amenable studio spaces and neighborhoods.

Though Create Denver Week is gone, Gedgaudas is enthused about the continuation of the Create Denver Expo, a CDW centerpiece aimed at working creatives. "The expo will be our next endeavor in McNichols," she explains. "I've decided to partner with Denver Start-up Week this year and help to create a more creative track for businesses. The dates of the expo will be September 20-21, at the end of the week. Friday will be a more TEDx-style forum with professionals and 'pecha kucha' type events, and Saturday we'll have our workshops supporting the growth of creative businesses. And there are talks with Wynkoop Brewing on bringing 'Catalyst Ale' back for that week, with new ingredients and collaborators."

A Denver Music Summit with concerts, speakers and expert talks is also planned down the line in November, as a way to place the local music scene in the limelight. And in the meantime, smaller events will continue to pop up at McNichols, including the thriving Warm Cookies of the Revolution civic discussion series, and small-scale seminars and workshops.

But Gedgaudas stresses that events are only the tip of the iceberg. What goes on under the surface -- from revolving loan programs for artists to simply finding new ways to open up a dialogue with creative thinkers and strengthen their presence as a force in Denver -- is the real work of Create Denver. And 2013, it seems, is the year we'll really find out what that means.

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