DCOCA Letter Regarding Rhinoceropolis

Dec 09 2016

As Denver natives, residents, artists, cultural workers and more, the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs was extremely concerned after hearing the news of a surprise inspection and mandatory evacuation order that was carried out for 3553 Brighton Blvd last evening.  In the wake of the deadly Ghost Ship fire in Oakland, conversations about safety are present and paramount.  The City of Denver has a duty to keep residents safe and will continue to take basic safety precautions to ensure this responsibility is met.  

This is a rather delicate topic, as 3553 Brighton Blvd is the home of Rhinoceropolis, a Do-It-Yourself art and music space that has operated and contributed greatly to the Denver creative community for over a decade.  The abrupt notice to vacate displaced a handful of artists and forces us to discuss and reexamine the severe lack of affordable creative spaces and housing in Denver.  As development and gentrification continue to impact Denver residents, artists, and creators of all kinds, it is easy to see how segments of our community are on the brink of real crisis.  Before rapid development began in this area of town, it was the artists who invested their time, energy and creative, social and economic capital to build a community that was inclusive, necessary, and cutting-edge.  When the people who made this area of town great in the first place cannot afford to live and work there, it is surely a disservice to the greater Denver Community. If we do not work immediately to ensure artists and creative businesses can continue to live and work in Denver, we will most certainly continue to lose the heart of our creative sector

The Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs values artists and creatives of all disciplines.  The Commission is dedicated to talking about economic growth and gentrification and displacement honestly and have worked diligently to find solutions that directly address our city’s affordability problem.  As stewards of Denver’s cultural plan, IMAGINE 2020, accessibility, and nurturing local talent are cornerstones of our daily work. We know that artists help shape the identity of our city and without them, we would not be the thriving city we are.  The Denver Commission on Cultural affairs is working with Denver Arts & Venues on long-term affordable housing options, including the Artspace program in “RiNo,” that will create 80-100 units and a mix of permanently affordable live-work units and nonresidential space for creative use.  We understand that the conversation regarding short-term affordable options is dire.  The Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs acknowledges the work that the River North Art District and BID have done to seek creative solutions to housing and creative space needs in the “RiNo” district, and will continue to partner with organizations and individuals dedicated to improving conditions for all of Denver’s residents, not just those lucky enough to afford it.

Mayor Michael Hancock, Denver Arts & Venues and the Commission on Cultural Affairs see it a priority to listen to and coordinate the voices of the arts community regarding housing and will continue to support the City of Denver and the creative community in finding solutions to our most pressing problems.

-The Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs 

For more information on the Denver Commission on Cultural Affairs, please visit here.

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