Cultural/Arts and Entertainment Districts
A cultural district or arts and entertainment district is a well-recognized, labeled, mixed-use area of a city in which a high concentration of cultural facilities serves as the anchor of attraction and robust economic activity. 600+ communities in the United States have designated cultural districts.
- are unique to the character, community, and resources available locally.
- have a significant economic impact on cities, attracting businesses, tourists, and local residents to a central part of the city.
- can help revitalize neighborhoods and increase the quality of life for its residents.
- serve as a vehicle to assist in the support and marketing of local nonprofit cultural organizations.
- serve as a focal point to brand a city’s unique cultural identity and embrace its historic significance.
- sometimes have formal boundaries lines with specific zoning ordinances and economic tax incentives.
- might have more informal, unofficial boundaries that become a focal marketing point to cluster arts organizations.
Twelve states have enacted statewide cultural/arts and entertainment district legislation:
|New Mexico||Rhode Island||Texas||West Virginia|
Types of Districts
City of Cumberland Arts and Entertainment District
Located in Allegany County, MD and managed by the Allegany Council on the Arts, the Cumberland Arts and Entertainment (A&E) Districts was established in 2002. Then it was expanded to almost twice its original size in 2007 and was officially re-designated by the state of Maryland for another 10-year period in 2012. The Cumberland A&E District has been a great success and is considered to be one of Maryland’s model programs.
The Cultural District
The Cultural District, a project of The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, is home to downtown's dynamic art and entertainment scene. For more than two decades, the Trust has led the cultural and economic development of Pittsburgh’s Cultural District by:
- presenting high-quality performing arts events and visual arts exhibitions,
- providing comprehensive education and community engagement opportunities,
- supporting and collaborating with Cultural District resident companies and hundreds of local arts organizations and artists,
- maintaining superior venues for resident companies, community organizations, and promoters,
- attracting 2 million people to the Cultural District annually to more than 2,000 annual events and activities,
- managing over 1 million square feet of real estate,
- creating and curating public art parks and gallery spaces, and
- by cultivating the city’s largest arts neighborhood.
Chicago Arts District
The Chicago Arts District encompasses several contiguous blocks of lofts, studios, and retail spaces for artists and gallerists. Every second Friday of the month, more than 30 galleries invite the public to view new and exciting exhibitions. Supported by Podmajersky, Inc., the independent staff of Chicago Arts District connects the public with the neighborhood and its artists through programs and outreach.
This white paper was completed for The Mayors’ Institute on City Design, a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the United States Conference of Mayors and American Architectural Foundation.
State Policy Briefs: State Cultural Districts
This brief is based on a review of existing state statutes and guidelines as well as extensive interviews with state program coordinators, local district managers, artists, and organizations working in cultural districts and includes expanded discussion of policy trends, evaluations, and recommended resources.
Maryland Arts and Entertainment Districts: Economic and Fiscal Impact Analysis FY 2008-FY 2010
A report detailing the economic and fiscal impacts of 19 Maryland arts and entertainment districts on Maryland’s economy. As one of the first states to develop this designation, Maryland’s districts serve as a case study and leading example for other states.
Cultural Districts Handbook: The Arts as a Strategy for Revitalizing Our Cities
This handbook reveals how local cultural districts are established, the processes and players that can help define their shape and strategy, and how cultural districts can best reflect the unique strengths of cities as well as support local artistic and redevelopment goals.