For the past twenty years, downtown Wilmington has been undergoing successful revitalization projects, many centered around the work of art and artists, arts education, hospitality, commercial business expansion, and living or live-work projects. In all of these initiatives, the Wilmington Renaissance Corporation (WRC) has been an instigator or a pivotal partner.
WRC was founded in 1993 as Wilmington 2000, a public-private partnership between the Office of the Mayor and the corporate community. Privately funded, nonprofit and nonpartisan, WRC’s mission is to invigorate downtown Wilmington through strategies and projects that stimulate the city’s economy and vitality and that solidify it as a center of educational, cultural and social activity and an exciting place to live, work and visit. Some of WRC’s ground breaking projects include renovation of the rejuvenated downtown LOMA neighborhood; the establishment of the innovative Delaware College of Art and Design; the attraction of world-class cycling competition; and the creation highly successful four-year public art program.
In 2013, WRC’s board of directors engaged a broad base of community thought partners in a discussion about Wilmington’s “next Big Idea.” What resulted were many ideas, but one in particular took root – one that was grounded in the idea that Wilmington’s economy could grow and create economic opportunities for all if our economic development strategies in the areas in and adjacent to the downtown business district were to focus on arts and culture as an economic driver. From this idea the Creative District was born.
In preparation for the its work on the Creative District, WRC visited and studied ground-breaking projects nationwide, including the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and Pittsburgh Cultural District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; AS220 and The Providence Foundation in Providence, Rhode Island; Station North , Live Baltimore and the Central Baltimore Partnership in Baltimore, Maryland; the LowerTown Arts District in Paducah, Kentucky; and a number of innovative projects in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania including NextFab , The Enterprise Center , The Dorrance Hamilton Center for Culinary Enterprises , Philadelphia Mural Arts Program , and the New Kensington Community Development Corporation .