Peggy Lyle is a woman on a mission. Spend more than 20 minutes engaging with her about what she does and you’ll feel simultaneously inspired and overwhelmed. As the director of the Downtown Fort Collins Creative District, Lyle has a vision for growing and expanding nearly all the creative aspects of the downtown community. She also has a front row seat- literally and metaphorically- to see a large number of local creatives do what they do best.
Trying to pin down exactly what the Downtown Fort Collins Creative District does, and conversely what Lyle does, is a bit of challenge. To see the downtown area of Fort Collins grow, the District (more or less) uses their collection of resources to assist the wide variety of local talent be the best version of themselves possible. The vision of the District is threefold- a physical arm, a connection arm, and a storytelling arm. The connections, frequently between two symbiotic parties, sees fruit through business consulting, service sharing, and encouraging the community to support each other through art. The storytelling, perhaps the most visual aspect, plays out in the District’s role to support local events like FOCOMX, Bohemian Nights, and StartUp Week.
As Director, Lyle sees it as her job to use the Creative District as a mechanism for creatives to share their work, their knowledge, and their connections. She personally specializes in getting musicians, artisans and other creative-minded persons thinking about their skills as a business, not just as a hobby. She encourages a sense of collaboration between people in different sectors or artistic endeavors; however, she also works hard to encourage artists to be aware of their own self work and ask for compensation, even from other artists.
“A lot of people still don’t see being in the creative field as a real career choice.” Lyle says. “But, if you combine all those in the creative industry, it would be the third largest employer in Fort Collins.”
Fort Collins is home to a huge number of creators. From monthly Art Walks to local breweries, award winning event centers (looking at you, Lincoln Center) to a huge annual festival, and a symphony in its 68th year to an iconic, historic downtown, no brightly colored stone has been left unturned. As not just a ‘Music City’ but as a broad ‘Creative City,’ the social, economic, and cultural impact of the local arts is undeniable.
“Many years were spent fostering Fort Collins as a Music City, so most people see it as such.” Lyle says. “It is actually much larger than that, we’re part of a group of sister Creative Cities.”
Some of those sister cities include Telluride, Salida and Greeley.
One of the ‘big picture’ roles of the Creative District program, which exists at both a state and national level, is to revitalize the rural American communities through art and culture.
Lyle has just been awarded Consultant of the Year for her work with the Larimer Small Business Development Center. Her next big project is ArtUp Week, a part of StartUp Week Fort Collins, which is a free, five day collection of workshops to provide resources for local startups and entrepreneurs. ArtUp Week will host over 40 sessions for local artists to learn valuable skills and make incredible connections. This event happens from February 26th from March 2nd.
For many of the artists that benefit from her direction and support, their story is just beginning.
Downtown Fort Collins Creative District Director Peggy Lyle. Used with permission.