COLUMBUS, Neb. -- After being recognized as a creative arts district, Columbus received a $250,000 grant to promote arts in the city.

The city received an initial grant of $10,000 and will have access to $250,000 over the next few years.

According to Columbus Planning and Economic Development Coordinator Jean Van Iperen, the initial funds will be used to start marketing.

“We had to do a strategic plan over four or five years and so we broke that quarter of a million dollars over those years," Van Iperen said.

The first few years of funds will be used to set up programming such as way-finding signs.

Van Iperen said the focus for the grants will be on visual arts and adding to the sculpture walk.

She also said another goal is to make the downtown district more walkable. 

Columbus Arts Council Executive Director Elley Coffin said some of the funding will help create opportunities for arts in Columbus.

“One of the big pushes for the creative districts is to provide those outlets for those artists to be working within the community, to give them more of a spotlight within the community, and also provide them with pay and work," Coffin said.

Coffin said months of work was needed to be certified as a creative district and decades of progress.

Columbus joins 16 other Nebraska cities in gaining the certification.

“We are one of, I think, only 17 established creative districts right now in Nebraska," Coffin said. "This is something that the state is showing true investment in, which is massive for Nebraska.”

According to Van Iperen, the city contains 15 murals, both indoor and outdoor, and said the grant will help expand on the arts.

While the city is in the beginning of grant funds, Van Iperen and Coffin hope the arts will grow in Columbus and look forward to seeing what the grant will bring to the downtown area.