A proposed economic development plan could lead to more growth and development for Carlsbad’s flourishing arts and culture industry.
Carlsbad’s Pearl of the Pecos Arts and Cultural District, New Mexico MainStreet and Sites Southwest sought public input during the first in a series of meetings Thursday for a plan promoting arts and cultural development in downtown Carlsbad.
Carlsbad MainStreet Arts and Culture District Executive Director Kat Davis said the community’s drive for an arts and culture district started in 2016. Two years later Carlsbad’s application to become a startup program through New Mexico MainStreet and the New Mexico Arts Commission was approved.
Since 2018 Carlsbad MainStreet has worked to meet goals and received designation as a state authorized Arts and Cultural District, according to Davis.
In 2021, Carlsbad MainStreet partnered with the City of Carlsbad and received a state grant to fund a cultural economic development plan for the community.
“This plan is one of the last steps for Carlsbad to receive that state designation as an Arts and Cultural District,” Davis wrote in newsletter for Pearl of the Pecos Arts and Cultural District.
Michelle Negrette, creative economy, and cultural planning specialist for New Mexico MainStreet, said Carlsbad met a series of benchmarks established nearly four years ago.
“It’s really exciting to have another community come into our programs,” she said.
Carlsbad citizens, business leaders and government officials met individually discussing a wide array of items during Thursday’s meeting at the Carlsbad Museum.
“We’re talking about better ways to support each other and collaborate and make it easier for everyone in the district and outside the district,” said City of Carlsbad Public Library Director Sarah Jones on the crafting of the economic development plan.
She said the library, located in the heart of the Arts and Culture District, would like to see more use of the Halagueno Arts Park located near the library.
“We try to utilize the space and bring arts and culture downtown and kind of celebrate what our community has to offer,” Jones said.
As an arts patron, Jones would like to see live theater performances downtown.
“We have two awesome stages out in the Art Park and to see those utilized I would like to see a Shakespeare fest or something like it for the community to enjoy,” she said.
Jones said once the economic development plan is official, she would like to see the entire Carlsbad community come together and support it.
Davis said the plan would integrate city planning, historic preservation, cultural tourism development, urban design and downtown revitalization.
Interest in Pearl of the Pecos grew from 2021 to 2022
Data released by Carlsbad MainStreet indicated increased growth in Carlsbad’s downtown arts and cultural properties during a one-year period.
During 2021 $83,000 was raised for district programs and events. Last year $3.75 million was raised for arts and culture programs in Carlsbad, according to MainStreet figures.
Fifty thousand dollars was spent during 2021 on public improvements, including a mural near the Eddy County Courthouse, new benches, trash cans and a new sign. Improvement costs increased to $180,000 in 2022 as crosswalks were repainted, roadways improved and beautification plaques were placed on various downtown properties, according to MainStreet.
Attendance increased by nearly 1,000 people from 2021 to 2022 for the third Thursday monthly art market held during the summer and fall. MainStreet data cited a 50 percent increase of participating vendors from 2021 to 2022.
Future MainStreet plans for 2023 include continued renovations at the Cavern Theater, increased downtown beautification projects and arts and cultural classes.