Power of Culture Blog
329 Local Cultural Councils to support public programs in every community in Massachusetts.
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On August 24, the governing Board of the Mass Cultural Council unanimously voted to redesignate nine state Cultural Districts and extend their participation in the Massachusetts Cultural District Initiative through August 2026:
“Mass Cultural Council is thrilled to extend the state’s recognition of these nine Cultural Districts,” said Michael J. Bobbitt, Executive Director, Mass Cultural Council. “Cultural Districts celebrate community, provide economic opportunities for host municipalities, and offer their residents and visitors the chance to visit, learn, support, and partake in cultural activities that make each District vibrant and special.”
Cultural District Reactions to Redesignation:
“The designation has inspired involvement from the Tribal and general communities. Working to improve the visitor experience has resulted in expanded offerings that include music, tribal, and other cultural events hosted by the Town and the Tribe. It has also increased visitation to the Aquinnah Wampanoag Indian Museum, the Gay Head Lighthouse and the commercial shops that support Wampanoag shopkeepers and artists. The cultural district designation has strengthened the Circle’s sense of place on the Island, and in the community in general.” – Aquinnah Circle Cultural District
“We created an ideal blend of municipal, corporate, non-profit, and volunteer assets to lift a $5,000 Cultural District grant to become a $40,000 district-wide public art and branding project, and the largest public art project in the history of Greenfield. We think we did well leveraging everything and everyone we could think of. And the good news is that we have not finished…we continue to receive new sponsorships even now.” – Crossroads Cultural District
“Cultural District designation facilitated communication between diverse Town committees and helped steward a more cohesive planning approach toward revitalizing our commercial center. Dedicated investment in the district allowed the Committee to create more intentional opportunities for individuals to encounter art experiences or learn about the Town’s fishing industry or be immersed in the multi-cultural heritages that forged our Town. Like attracts like, and our district businesses offerings include several new creative storefronts and more adventurous restaurants.” – Scituate Harbor Cultural District
What is a State Designated Cultural District?
State designated Cultural Districts are specific areas within a city or town that host cultural facilities, activities, and assets. Cultural Districts are walkable, compact areas, easy for visitors and residents to recognize. Cultural Districts drive economic growth, strengthen the influence of distinctive local character, and improve the quality of life across Massachusetts in our communities.
In FY22, state designated Cultural Districts are eligible to receive grants worth up to $7,500 to support marketing, operations, and programming from Mass Cultural Council. Additionally, the communities that host them may be eligible to receive additional economic development resources, including state tax credits and grant funding from other public agencies.
Mass Cultural Council administers the Cultural District Initiative on behalf of the Commonwealth. The program was established in 2011 through an act of the State Legislature. Currently there are 51 state designated Cultural Districts across the Commonwealth.
Communities interested in pursuing a state Cultural District designation or learning more about the program are welcome and encouraged to review the application process or connect with Program Manager Luis Cotto.