Every day, Wilmington’s Creative District is growing – growing with new creative people making, living, working and innovating in spaces and places that are nourishing their creative spirit and enhancing our city’s reputation as an exciting place to be. As part of a national wave of creative placemaking initiatives that seek to transform urban areas, the Creative District encompasses the area bounded by Fourth, Ninth, Market and Washington Streets. And, with the active engagement of a variety of partners from the private and public sectors, the Creative District will continue the momentum of LOMA and Market Street, pushing interest and investment further West toward Quaker Hill and West Center City.
The Creative District is focused on encouraging and promoting creative production and consumption. It is a place where creative entrepreneurs — artists, musicians, designers, tech innovators, makers and manufacturers — and neighborhood residents thrive and where locally designed goods and original works are made and consumed.
This revitalization engages the community — current and future residents, as well as civic and business leaders — in a wide range of initiatives and programs that include:
greening and streetscape projects
real estate development
programming and community engagement
public art and public performance projects
centers for creative entrepreneurship
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 .
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The mission of the Wilmington Creative District is to implement creative placemaking strategies to:
Revitalize the area of Wilmington’s downtown between Shipley Street, Washington Street, Fourth Street and Ninth Street
Extend the experience and investment along Market Street further west to adjacent communities and areas beyond downtown
Establish Wilmington as a destination for producers and consumers of art, history, culture and creativity
the rich cultural history and historic architecture of the Quaker Hill neighborhood
the concentration of arts venues, institutions, and organizations along Market Street
the cluster of downtown companies and firms in creative industries
the millions of dollars of public and private investment along Market Street’s historic corridor
Wilmington’s Creative District is the city’s creative center focused on both creative production and consumption, where local creative entrepreneurs (artists, musicians, designers, makers, tech innovators, manufacturers) and residents thrive and locally designed goods and original works are made and sold.
The combined impacts of public and private investment and public policy over the past thirty years have brought transformative change to Wilmington’s greater downtown area, with corporate investment in Center City and the Riverfront Wilmington redevelopment bookending the smaller scale, more incremental revitalization of LOMA [lower Market Street]. This continued building of momentum in parts of Wilmington’s downtown is contrasted by the persistent challenges faced by nearby neighborhoods just beyond the reach of this reinvestment.
As seen in cities across the Country with revived downtowns, the success of past initiatives is an opportunity to expand in new directions. Wilmington has a long legacy of arts organizations and creative businesses. Those that are familiar with the City are well aware of the local benefits provided by major arts institutions as well as small creative non-profits organizations. This vision for a Creative District is about expanding and promoting a local resource that is often overlooked. With proactive guidance and investment, an established Creative District will help to improve local communities and the City’s overall economic position.
Read the full plan (PDF’s):
Government and Public Sector Partners
City of Wilmington: Mayor’s Office of Cultural Affairs
City of Wilmington: Department of Planning & Development
City of Wilmington: Department of Real Estate & Housing
City of Wilmington: Department of Licenses & Inspections
City of Wilmington: Department of Public Works
City of Wilmington: Hicks Anderson Community Center
City of Wilmington: Law Department
City of Wilmington: Police Department
State of Delaware: Attorney General’s Office
State of Delaware: Health and Social Services
State of Delaware: Department of Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement
State of Delaware: Delaware Division of the Arts
State of Delaware: Department of State
State of Delaware: State Legislative
Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control
NGO and Not-for-Profit Partners
Artist Ave. Station
Christina Cultural Arts Center
Chris White CDC
Connections Community Support Programs
Delaware Arts Alliance
First State Community Loan Fund
Interfaith Community Housing
Interfaith Veterans Workgroup
Kingswood Community Center
Latin American Community Center
Market Street Music
Pieces of a Dream
Quaker Hill Neighborhood Association
The Episcopal Church of Saints Andrew and Matthew (SsAM)
The Challenge Program
The Delaware Center for Horticulture
The Delaware Contemporary
The Nature Conservancy
University of Delaware: Partnership for Arts and Culture
University of Delaware: Associates of Arts Program
United Way of Delaware
West Center City Futures
Private Sector and For-Profit Partners
7th Street Deli
ab+c Creative Intelligence
Albert Greto Esq.
Buccini Pollin Group
Delaware Valley Development Corporation
Electricians IBEW 313
Gable Music Ventures
Groundswell Design Group
Monty's Neighborhood Snacks
Precision Color Graphics
Media Partners and Project Coverage
Delaware Business Journal
Delaware Today Magazine
Hoy en Delaware
Out & About Magazine
The News Journal
WDDE Public Radio
WHYY Public Television / First
WHYY Public Radio / Radio Times
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