It only took 25 years.

In 1989, Denver mayor Federico Peña led the charge to craft the city’s first cultural plan. It’s been revised in the decades since, but not with as much gusto as Imagine 2020, which was released yesterday, a 90-page manifesto on how the city is going to support and engage with arts, culture, and creativity over the next seven years. “This is a great day for Denver,” Mayor Michael Hancock said at the press conference. “This industry defines the soul of our city.” Indeed: Creative businesses contribute about $2 billion to the state’s economy.

The project began more than a year ago when Denver Arts & Venues asked citizens to contribute their ideas for what they liked about the city’s cultural offerings—and what we lack. More than 5,000 people answered the call. That feedback helped create seven “Vision Elements”—integration and accessibility among them—which serve as the foundation of the plan. Among Imagine 2020’s 50 goals, 10 have been highlighted as priorities. Four have already been implemented:

  1. Seven new pieces of public art, all created by Colorado artists, were installed at the Colorado Convention Center, including “The Heavy Is the Root of the Light” by Mindy Bray (pictured, above) and “Wall of Words” by Roland Bernier (pictured, right)
  2. A feasibility study for an affordable, mixed-use development in RiNo by Artspace.
  3. P.S. You Are Here, a new grant program for funding public activities in Denver neighborhoods, launched. Applications will be accepted starting in April.
  4. is getting a facelift. The goal: “an easy-to-use, comprehensive online event calendar.”

What do you think? Did Imagine 2020 get it right?

Take part: Head to the McNichols Civic Center Building at 4 p.m. on Thursday, March 6 for the official plan presentation and the unveiling of data on what the city learned about community perception of and engagement with the arts. Hang around—or show up just in time—for the party at 6 p.m. with music, hors d’oeuvres, and the opening of The New West: Contemporary Perspectives of the Rocky Mountain Region.

Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer
Daliah Singer is an award-winning writer and editor based in Denver. You can find more of her work at