The City of Fremont was recently named a certified Nebraska Creative District and was awarded a $10,000 Nebraska Arts Council Certification Grant. The Nebraska Creative District Program utilizes the arts as an economic driver to support communities in Nebraska by telling their stories and elevating the value of the arts.
The Fremont Creative District encompasses the historic downtown of Fremont, Nebraska which houses a number of longstanding cultural, commercial, and civic buildings. The district also encompasses John C. Fremont Park and satellite locations which include Keene Memorial Library and Louis E. May Museum.
Nebraska Creative Districts must submit a letter of interest, an Eligibility Assessment, and a Strategic Plan as part of the approval process. Goals can include attracting artists and creative enterprises, encouraging business and job development, establishing the district as a tourist destination, preserving and reusing historic buildings, and promoting the district’s cultural and historical heritage.
Angie Olson, City of Fremont Grant Coordinator said Discovery Partners from over 20 organizations representing Fremont’s business, cultural, arts and education sectors met regularly from April 2022 to September 2022 to plan for Fremont’s Creative District certification. In November, four community input sessions were held at the Opera House where participants were asked to dream into the future as well as identify key barriers to success.
“This project received a lot of interest and commitment from area organizations and individuals,” City of Fremont Grant Coordinator, Angie Olson explained of the project. “We hope to further connect our community and support growth within our city through the Fremont Creative District.”
Representatives from the city, Fremont Area Chamber, Fremont and Dodge County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Fremont Area Art Association developed a strategic plan for the district based on input from the Discovery Partners and community input sessions. “Throughout this process we have developed a strong group of Discovery Partners with the passion to turn this idea into a reality,” said Molly Paden, Executive Director of the Fremont and Dodge County Convention and Visitors Bureau who was part of the certification project. “I’m excited to see the arts and cultural growth to the district area with future grant funding.”
Currently, the Fremont Creative District strategic plan is being implemented including governance research from other Nebraska Creative Districts, discussions on applying for additional grant funding, plans for an amphitheater within the district and potential public art projects. Certification grant funds will be used for initial marketing of the district.
"I want to thank the over 20 Fremont organizations for their collaboration and coordinated efforts to establish a Creative District in Fremont,” Mayor Joey Spellerberg said. “This district will allow Fremont to be eligible to receive additional funding for projects that improve the quality of life and develop a stronger community connection with our residents. The Fremont Creative District will give us another tool to help retain and attract younger Nebraskans to live, work, and raise their family in Fremont. I am very excited about this announcement. We have a bright future."
In 2020, the Nebraska State legislature passed a bill to create the Creative Districts program. The program works to promote and support economic development and placemaking opportunities in communities dedicated to growing their arts-related economic sectors.
For more information about the Fremont Creative District visit www.fremontne.gov/977/Fremont-Creative-District and to learn more about the Creative District program, visit the Nebraska Arts Council website at www.artscouncil.nebraska.gov/explore/creative-districts/ or call the office at 402-595-2122.