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Lauding Our Award-Winning Cultural Districts Initiative

Bethann Steiner, Senior Director of Public Affairs

photo of 8 people seated on bar stools in front of an audience, having a conversation
Roundtable discussion at CNU New England’s 2023 Fall Summit, including Mass Cultural Council’s Carolyn Cole (second from the right). Photo: Jon Ford, CNU New England 2023 Board.

The Massachusetts Cultural Districts Initiative, created in 2011 by an act of the state Legislature and administered by Mass Cultural Council, was honored on September 14 with a 2023 Urbanism Award from the New England Chapter of the Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU New England).

CNU New England is dedicated to creating, sustaining, and celebrating places that people love. For the 2023 Awards, CNU New England was seeking projects, initiatives, and partnerships that demonstrate excellence and courage in enabling social diversity, economic equity, and cultural inclusivity. In selecting the 2023 winners, the jury prioritized projects that contribute to the creation ofcreating walkable, sustainable, and equitable places in New England..

photo of David Slatery receiving a certificate from a CNU New England board member
Mass Cultural Council’s Deputy Executive Director David Slatery accepting the award at CNU New England’s 2023 Fall Summit. Photo: Ken Livingston, CNU New England 2023 Board.

Mass Cultural Council’s Deputy Executive Director David Slatery and Cultural Districts Program Officer Carolyn Cole accepted the award on behalf of the Agency and our vibrant network of 55 state-designated cultural districts at CNU New England’s 2023 Fall Summit.

State-designated cultural districts drive economic growth, strengthen distinctive local character, and improve the quality of life of families across Massachusetts within their host communities. By supporting arts, humanities, and science organizations, state-designated cultural districts attract tourists and entrepreneurs, which in turn help communities foster their cultural sector and expand their tax base.

The Cultural Districts Initiative embodies many New Urbanist Principles, which led to this award and recognition from CNU New England. While focused on collaboration through arts and culture, the Initiative’s emphasis of participatory planning and clear municipal governmental support provide a framework for achieving the principle of governmental cooperation, public policy, physical planning, and economic strategies. Further, the principles of supporting “identifiable areas” and “compact, pedestrian friendly” districts are consistent with the program guidelines for proposed cultural districts.

Learn More About the Cultural Districts Initiative

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