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The Idaho Commission on the Arts (ICA) commissioned Idaho Policy Institute (IPI) to gain a better understanding of the role and impact of the creative community in Idaho’s West Central Mountains (WCM)—covering Valley County, Cascade, Donnelly, McCall, and the Meadows Valley—and provide context for the establishment of a creative district pilot in the region.

IPI hosted two focus groups with local stakeholders and conducted a survey of individuals affiliated with the creative community. This feedback provided qualitative insight into the experience of creatives such as artists, makers, and retailers, as well as the perceptions of arts supporters, educators, and administrators.

Findings indicate:

    • The local creative community is largely perceived as strong or at least moderately strong, while few believe it is weak.
    • There is overwhelming optimism regarding creatives’ opportunity for economic growth and prosperity.
    • Artists, makers, and retailers want to be more connected with other WCM creatives.
    • Respondents are divided on knowing where to find information about creatives.

Based on focus group and survey data, the WCM creative community’s strengths include its community, value and impact, and optimism; weaknesses are lack of awareness and access; opportunities involve creating an online tool, expanding resources, and strengthening connections; and the creative community is threatened by growth and erosion of local character.

The implementation of creative districts in other states, particularly in Colorado and California, offer roadmaps for the establishment of a WCM district, including potential best practices, benefits, local partnerships, resources, and state-level assistance.


This report was prepared by Idaho Policy Institute at Boise State University and commissioned by Idaho Commission on the Arts.