about

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:

  • affordable housing

  • greening and streetscape projects

  • real estate development

  • programming and community engagement

  • public art and public performance projects

  • centers for creative entrepreneurship

History

 

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 .

Mission&Vision

 

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MISSION

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

By leveraging:

  • 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

VISION

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.

 

PLAN

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):

 EXECUTIVE SUMMARY (5MB) DOWNLOAD FOR PRINT (25MB)

 FULL PLAN (7MB) DOWNLOAD FOR PRINT (60MB)

partners

 

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

 

4Youth Productions

Artist Ave. Station

ASCAB Caporiera

Christina Cultural Arts Center

Chris White CDC

Connections Community Support Programs

Dance4Life

Delaware Arts Alliance

Downtown Visions

First State Community Loan Fund

Interfaith Community Housing

Interfaith Veterans Workgroup

Kingswood Community Center

Latin American Community Center

Market Street Music

Nemours

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

Wilmington Placemakers

 

Private Sector and For-Profit Partners

 

7th Street Deli

ab+c Creative Intelligence

Albert Greto Esq.

Buccini Pollin Group

Colonial Parking

Delaware Valley Development Corporation

Eastburn Graphics

Electricians IBEW 313

Gable Music Ventures

Groundswell Design Group

Marinelli Contracting

Monty's Neighborhood Snacks

Morningstar Development

NextFab

Precision Color Graphics

Sunbelt Rentals

Trophy Shop

 

Media Partners and Project Coverage

 

Delaware Business Journal

Delaware Today Magazine

Hoy en Delaware

Out & About Magazine

The News Journal

WDDE Public Radio

WILM Radio

WHYY Public Television / First

WHYY Public Radio / Radio Times

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