The Arts

Real plans for a vibrant, safe, affordable Denver:
Making Denver A City of Artists

Denver is one of the greatest cities in America; it’s vibrant and brimming with talent. Denver’s creative industry supports nearly 100,0001 jobs, mostly concentrated in the music, theater, dance, and visual arts space. But while the number of these creative jobs jumped by nearly 29% over the last decade, the average price of rent in the Denver metropolitan region nearly doubled.2 To encourage the growth of our arts scene, we need to make deliberate and purposeful decisions to make Denver one of the art centers of America. Denver is brimming with opportunity, but we need a mayor with the commitment and vision to execute these plans.Here is my plan. As with every part of my policy platform, we know it works and we know how to pay for it.

1. Bolster support for the arts by creating a campus to house a permanent Artists-in-Residence program. Rising rent costs are discouraging new artistic entrants into the city. We can solve this issue by providing housing for artists in residence by converting a building into a campus for aspiring artists. Artists will receive a two-year fellowship that includes housing, stipend, materials, and studio space for them to create beautiful art that inspires the city. Each artist will receive housing and a stipend. These artists will create public projects that enhance the civic life and cultural fabric of the city.

  • Create a Fellowship to encourage students of the arts. Selected by an appointed commission of community art leaders and city agency representatives, the program would work in partnership with our groundbreaking RedLine program to provide artists with a generous stipend and studio space to work in for a year. Up to ten artists would be chosen per cohort.
  • Partner with philanthropy to acquire a campus to host our Artists-in-Residence during their fellowship years.
  • Give Each Artist a Public Canvas and a Stage: Each cohort would give public presentations on the progress of their work and culminate their fellowship with at least one public-facing component.3 For a visual artist this could be a public building for a large scale mural; for a playwright it could be a theater space for a premier production; for an author it could be a book tour throughout Denver and prioritized distribution in our libraries; or, for a filmmaker it could be a premiere opening in one of our partner theaters.. Artists would also be encouraged to present their work to students at local schools to foster creativity and communicate the importance of the arts from an early age, which has been found to be associated with remarkable improvements in test scores and reductions in disciplinary infractions.4 Projects in similar city-sponsored programs have included murals and artist-led workshops for vulnerable populations.5
  • Similar to the Public Art Program, the Denver Arts and Venues department will guide the implementation of this fellowship. The Public Art Program has added over 400 public artworks since its inception,6 and while this new program would have similar tangible outcomes, there will be a deeper focus on the artists themselves, their processes, and their involvement with the Denver community. The City of Denver will serve as the artists’ gallery; making the city a more vibrant, colorful locale.
  • We know it works. Artists-in-Residence programs in cities like New York City and Boston have shown extremely promising results. In the city of Boston, 84% of surveyed city partners and organizations agreed that the program increased their opinion that artists can be thought partners in their work and 74% said that AIR increased their belief that Boston is a city rich in creative expression.7

The Budget

Free housing for all artists in
residence via conversion of existing
building into campus with
20-30 units for burgeoning artists
$10 Million$10 million from philanthropic
sources or in kind land contribution
from community leaders.


  1. See https://www.artsandvenuesdenver.com/assets/doc/2020DenverCreativeEconomyReport_Final-d4b586353d.pdf, page ii
  2. See https://www.artsandvenuesdenver.com/assets/doc/2020DenverCreativeEconomyReport_Final-d4b586353d.pdf, page ii
  3. See https://www.lacountyarts.org/sites/default/files/pdfs/creativestrategist_evaluation_fullreport-1.pdf
  4. See https://www.brookings.edu/blog/brown-center-chalkboard/2019/02/12/new-evidence-of-the-benefits-of-arts-education/
  5. See https://www.nyc.gov/site/dcla/publicart/pair.page
  6. See https://denverpublicart.org/about/#:~:text=In%20accordance%20with%20the%20Public,in%20the%20Public%20Art%20program
  7. See https://drive.google.com/file/d/1KGuz_LljjZyy-puLlorN6d5iIVC8dtpY/view

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