Leadership Conference

for Creating Arts and Cultural Districts in Virginia

Friday, May 15, 2009
9:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m
Fredericksburg, Virginia

Staunton Annouces Arts and Culture District

Staunton's new Arts and Culture District will be officially launched on Saturday, October 17. The City of Staunton and the Arts and Culture Council of Staunton are planning a joint news announcement next Tuesday, October 13, at 11 am to be held at the RR Smith Center in Staunton. In attendance will be city officials along with representatives of the arts and cultural community in town.

We will send out information about the culture district launch shortly. Meantime, in a related story, today Virginians for the Arts put out the attached news release on the economic impact of arts and culture in the Valley, mentioning several local groups including the American Shakespeare Center.

If you would like more information, please feel free to call Trish Poupore at Virginians for the Arts in Richmond at (804) 644-2787 or call me here in Staunton at (540) 885-5588 x 26.

Erik Curren
Arts and Culture Council of Staunton

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Arts and Economic Prosperity Calculator from AFTA

The Arts & Economic Prosperity III Calculator is a free and simple tool that makes it possible for you to estimate the economic impact of your nonprofit arts and culture organization—or even your entire nonprofit arts community—on your local economy. These analyses are based on research findings from the 156 communities and regions that were part of Arts & Economic Prosperity III, Americans for the Arts' national economic impact study of nonprofit arts and culture organizations and their audiences.

Before you use this calculator we ask that you learn more about these estimates, which are based on similarly populated communities and have a range of accuracy. We're confident that having a clear understanding of your numbers will bolster the strength of your economic impact argument.

Click the [Link] below to open the calculator.


Additional Resources

A State Policy Brief/Tools for Arts Decision Making, from the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
PDF file, 13 pp. with references, links.

An overview of intended outcomes and government leadership in creating zones favorable to arts and culture. Includes overview of process, challenges, adaptation to urban and rural needs; links to legislative guidelines; evaluation recommendations; and links to lessons learned.

Perspectives on Cultural Tax Districts: Seminar Proceedings, 2008.
PDF file, 144 pp., with references, links

Proceedings from a seminar on cultural tax districts sponsored by the Washington State Arts Commission and WESTAF. Held in Seattle, Washington, in February, 2008, seminar participants focused on the benefits, drawbacks, structure and impact of cultural tax districts. Participants examined several proposed, unsuccessful, and current tax district structures such as Denver's Scientific and Cultural Facilities District, which yields more than $42 million annually for arts and culture in a seven-county area. Printed copies of the proceedings are available upon request from WESTAF. For more information, please contact Erin Bassity at erin.bassity@westaf.org.

Arts & The Economy: Using Arts and Culture to Stimulate State Economic Development
NGA Center for Best Practices (National Governors Association)
PDF file; 33 pages

Includes state reports on economic impact studies; additional publication information on the relationship between arts and the economy, in cooperation with the National Governors Association, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Assembly of State Arts Agencies.

While this publication addresses shaping statewide policy to position arts and culture for economic development, many insights, recommendations, and model projects from both urban and rural areas are included. Includes: techniques to assess and understand cultural industries strategies to support the arts as economic engines procedures to incorporate the arts into community development plans recommendations to best position the arts into cultural tourism marketing

The ABCs of Creating a Customer Friendly Arts District

Creating Arts & Cultural Districts
May 15, 2009 • Fredericksburg, VA

Pawtuket Rising: Revitalizing a City Using Arts as a Catalyst

Pawtucket Rising” reflects the unlikely story of the revitalization of the city of Pawtucket, Rhode Island. Pawtucket was once a burgeoning mill city. It is the home to the Slater Mill, the birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution. Pawtucket's fortunes fell when the country plummeted into the great depression and it has never fully recovered.

When artists could no longer afford the skyrocketing real estate in nearby Providence they were forced to take their business elsewhere. Mayor James E. Doyle recognized that The Arts could be an important catalyst in his city's revitalization. The city seized the opportunity to invite these small businesses to relocate to Pawtucket. As a result, Pawtucket is now restoring and renovating mill and industrial space that had once sat vacant and decaying.

“Pawtucket Rising,” the documentary film profiling the project’s conception and realization, shows the history of the past decade revitalization of the city. The city is experiencing its greatest boom in decades.

The video is available for order from the Pawtucket Rising website (http://www.pawtucketrising.info/) for $19.95. In addition, the site hosts a blog and other information about the very successful arts and cultural district.

Below is a summary of Pawtucket’s story.

The ABCs of Creating a Customer Friendly Arts District
Herb Weiss
Economic and Cultural Affairs Officer
Pawtucket, Rhode Island

In 1793, Samuel Slater founded America's cotton industry on the banks of the Blackstone River. Cotton would be woven by machinery, powered by water, not woven by hand. America's industrial revolution began in the City of Pawtucket.

At that time, artisans and gathered around the mills springing up on the banks of the Blackstone River. Their artistic creativity and skills at forging metal would build and maintain the machinery.

Even today Pawtucket continues to attract artisans to live and ply their crafts. Nationally-recognized artists, Howard Ben Tre, Steven Weinberg, Morris Nathanson, Gretchen Dow Simpson, and Regina A. Partridge and Elizabeth Alexander Goddard, have established art studios in our artist-friendly city. More over, in the last six years, hundreds of artists
have joined them and relocated into our city, moving into mills to operate studios or to live.

Pawtucket's arts initiative has now changed Pawtucket's image of being a "hardscrabble" industrial city of 72, 958. While not wanting to lose our grit or blue collar-roots, Pawtucket has slowly becoming known as Rhode Island's newest regional artist Mecca.

The Providence Journal, Rhode Island's largest daily, has recognized Pawtucket for "walking its talk" in wooing artists. It's no smoke or mirrors here. Mayor Doyle concedes that Pawtucket is not a Boston or Providence. "We're this David that sits between the two huge Goliaths," he often says.

Doyle, Pawtucket's chief advocate for the art, sees the city as a small town with a growing arts community. Pawtucket's arts district has become a powerful economic engine that has brought attention to the City and has become a powerful economic engine, revitalizing the community. We have long viewed artists as small businesses.

Cities must utilize all their assets in their attempts to attract artists. Pawtucket has made use of Rhode Island's state income tax incentive program.

In 1998, more than 90 cities throughout the nation had arts districts. Pawtucket City officials went to the General Assembly that year and lobbied for the creation of a 307 acre district, encompassing 23 mills and sixty streets. Enacted legislation would allow artists living or working in this geographical area to receive state income tax benefits or the waiver of sales tax on one-of-a-kind art work sold. At that time, only Pawtucket, Providence and Westerly, had arts districts. Today, seven out of the state's 39 municipalities have arts districts.

Pawtucket also attracted artists because of its affordability in rents. Rental rates are competitive and can be very enticing to artists. Rental space for studios in Pawtucket can be found for about $5 per square foot (including heat) that would have cost upwards to about $12 to $18 in Boston's South End. Rates in Providence may range from $6 to $ 8 per square foot. Location was also a boon for the City. Pawtucket is split in half by Interstate 95, giving drivers quick highway access. It is only a 45 minute commute to Boston, a 5 minute drive to South Attoboro to catch the commuter rail, or a 10 minute drive to Providence.

Attracting artists is all about customer service. Pawtucket ratchets up the level of customer service it provides to artists, art groups and businesses. While all cities should roll out the red carpet, like Pawtucket, if they do we will make our carpet plusher.

From Pawtucket's experience, the following actions can help Cities or municipalities to become more "Artist Friendly."

First, appoint a Contact Person. This person should be extremely visible to the public. As Pawtucket's Economic and Cultural Affairs Officer, I serve as a liaison between the City and local businesses, art groups and artists. First and foremost, I am their advocate within the bureaucracy.

When an artist calls the City for assistance, every department, from the City Hall receptionist, the Mayor's Office, Zoning, Parks and Recreation, to the Tax Assessor's Office, knows where to locate me. It should not take dozens of phone calls to track the City's arts advocate down.

A City's arts advocate must become a pipeline of information, sharing knowledge about city, state and federal tax incentives, available properties for lease or for sale for studios and live-work lofts, and available city and state grants to support artist programming.

An "open door policy" is a key for a City arts advocate to assist artists. No appointments are necessary to see me - artists seem to like that.

If requested, I will give an artist my "dog and pony" show of Pawtucket, by driving them around the city to show properties that are currently available for lease or purchase.

Most important, a City can only become an artist-friendly community if the Mayor or City Manager demands that policy and commits the resources and time necessary for outcome.

A City's arts advocate must have cooperation among city departments, who must work together on behalf of an artist or arts group.

Here's one example. When Stone Soup Coffee House, one of the New England's oldest nonprofit coffee houses, relocated to Pawtucket, Public Works provided a large truck, a driver and helper to pick up more than 200 folding chairs and sound equipment from Providence and to deliver them to their new home in Pawtucket.

Without this assistance, the nonprofit group would have had to make dozens of trips in a small pickup truck to transport their belongings. Stone Soup's relocation to downtown Pawtucket has proven to city officials that one way to make an area safe and attractive and to revitalize a
particular area of the city is through music and the arts.

The City also provided assistance through the Public Works Department to help the Sandra Feinstein Gamm Theatre and All Children's Theatre to relocate to Pawtucket. Finally, one Providence-based small theatre group is seeking to relocate to another City. If they choose to relocate their office to our City we have already made them a commitment to send in the
Public Works trucks to assist in the relocation - at no cost.

We have found that the arts can enhance the quality of life, more importantly improve a poor image of a community. Mayor Doyle strongly supported the reuse of the historic 106-year-old Pawtucket Armory as a regional performing arts center. This project, overseen by the Pawtucket Armory Association (PAA), has become the lynch pin in the City's Arts &
Entertainment District and fits in nicely with the City's plan to revitalize its historic downtown.

The City sold the gothic castle like Pawtucket armory, for just $1 and the Pawtucket Armory Association is about to begin a $6.5 million fundraising campaign needed for renovations to create the Arts Exchange, a regional performing arts center.

Formerly from Providence, the Sandra Feinstein Gamm Theater now attracts theater-goers and art lovers from all over Rhode Island, southern Massachusetts, and even from Boston, just a short 45-minute drive away.

Also, the Pawtucket School Department has opened the first state-wide arts high school in the Pawtucket Armory. Mayor Doyle is very proud of this new educational opportunity for those students seeking a solid arts education.

Pawtucket's success at transforming itself into a nationally recognized artist community, in just six years and a half years, has been luck and successfully taking advantage of opportunities at best.

Recognizing its past success in embracing the arts, Pawtucket now looks to the future. Ann Galligan, a professor at Northeastern University, developed the City's cultural plan, which will provide us with a road map to develop sound policy, programs and services to support the growing artist community in Pawtucket. Internationally recognized Morris Nathanson, who designed the restaurants at Euro-Disney and the Capitol Grille, and Stanley's in Central Falls, heads a task force charged with taking Galligan's report and implementing its recommendations.

A huge infusion of dollars is not necessary for a City to fund an Office of Cultural Affairs. If you don't have money in a budget for a full-time arts advocate position, just expand some ones job duties. That's how it happened in my City.

In Pawtucket, customer service has proven to be an effective economic development tool for attracting artists and artist groups. Ultimately, the best and most effective publicity comes from the artist community as they tell their peers how your city reached out to them.

Is the Pawtucket experience all smoke and mirrors, or a reality? I say it's a reality and here's the proof in the pudding. Since our arts district was created six years and a half years ago, 11
commercial buildings, many vacant and unused and many underutilized in the historic downtown, have been purchased by artists or creative sector companies.

Also, in the downtown we now how two live-work condo projects up and running. Over 125 people reside in these mills. Moreover, Urban Smart Growth, a California-based developer has purchased the 500,000 square foot former Hope Webbing Mill to create spaces for light manufacturing, leased live work lofts, studios, condos, and restaurants. Recently, First National Development, a Connecticut-based developer, purchased the 300,000 square foot former Union Wadding Mill and plans to build 300 affordable live work condos in the City's historic downtown.

We are now becoming a home for a growing number of art groups. As a result of our arts policy, Stone Soup Coffee House, the Sandra Feinstein Gamm Theater, All Children's Theater, the Foundry Artist Group and Mixed Magic Theater have relocated into Pawtucket. The Pawtucket Arts Collaborative was just established after the City's arts district was created. This group has over 150 artists in its membership ranks.

Is Pawtucket a place where culture can blossom? I am pleased to report to you that the Gamm Theater has thrived in our City. In Providence, they had fewer than 100 season subscribers. Today, in Pawtucket, this number has skyrocketed ten fold, to over 1,000.

A growing number of restaurants are now interested in finding locations in the City's Arts & Entertainment District. Mad House Café will open its doors in September. LJ's BQ, on Douglas Avenue, called by national restaurant publications "one of the best barbeque restaurants in New
England is relocating to East Avenue, right next to Barney's Bagel's and the Garden Grill.

To respond to this interest, the Pawtucket Business Development Corporation, a nonprofit funding source for small and medium-sized businesses, revised its lending guidelines to create a revolving loan program to fund restaurant projects located in the city's art district. Also, a new class of liquor licenses has been created that ties licenses to the location. They are not owned, nor can they become an asset. If the restaurant leaves its location the license expires.

Experts say that it takes about ten years to create a thriving Arts & Entertainment District. In just over six years and a half years, Pawtucket has gained both state-wide and national recognition for its efforts to build an artist community. Our efforts have been reported in the New York Times, The Boston Globe, through AP articles and in the Christen science

For policy makers seeking to create an arts district in their community, it is important to "walk the walk," with the blessings of the Mayor or City Manager. A growing number of Rhode Island communities with mills are seeking to attract arts. The secret to Pawtucket's success is tied to
affordability, advocacy, combined with good old fashion customer service that makes it easier for the artists to find space and to their solve problems.

Creating Arts And Cultural Districts Excerpts from Sources

DOWNTOWN SUCCESS: Eight Common Themes

ONE: Synergy and Critical Mass. An arts or cultural facility by itself is unlikely to change its surrounding environment. Thus, it takes more than a single facility, even one with great drama and imaginative design, to bring life to a district or a downtown. Success is usually based on a blending of attractions that support each other over time.

TWO: Identity. The identity of a district is stronger than any of its individual components. Arts and cultural districts benefit from marketing the identity of their district. They communicate to a regional audience (often including out-of-town visitors) the happenings in the district. Creating identity markets a destination that combines an array of activities artistic and commercial for success.

THREE: Heart of Downtown. The best location is almost always in the heart of downtown. The greatest benefits for the cultural community, downtown and the region are derived when the arts are woven directly into the fabric of downtown. When downtown is the location, the widest audience is reached, and the greatest synergy is developed.

FOUR: Sustain a Vision. A successful arts or cultural district needs committed investors and a steward of the vision. Without people to lead and sustain the vision, even the best art and cultural models would not survive past the idea stage. The seven cities had committed public or philanthropic investors willing to put their resources at risk at critical times to ensure continued advancement of the vision.

FIVE: Historic and Cultural Anchors. New investment needs to use existing assets. Nearly every American city contains important cultural resources. Often the best way for downtowns to re-establish themselves as regional cultural centers is to build on existing strengths and historical anchors, not replace them.

SIX: Stretch the Boundaries. The most successful organizations have ventured far beyond traditional arts boundaries. Leaders of art and cultural districts must be prepared to do whatever it takes to create an atmosphere of success. It may be helping to restore historic storefronts, design streetscapes or open a ticket business. The best structures move freely between civic, commercial and cultural worlds.

SEVEN: Beyond Buildings. The hardest work comes after the buildings are built, not before. Even the best venue can fail with weak marketing, management and programming. Likewise, "weaker" venues or designs can succeed when management and marketing are strong. All venues need capable, professional staff to enhance their volunteer leadership.

EIGHT: Artist as Asset. Often, too little attention is paid to the viability of arts organizations and artists. Buildings don't make art; artists make art. Artists and art organizations are key to successful cultural centers. They are the reason venues draw people to downtown

BEYOND LOCATION: Five Success Factors

Five factors consistently impact the environment and context within which a performing arts center operates: Management, Identity, Partnership, Investments, and Leadership.

MANAGEMENT. Active management of cultural resources and the downtown environment are key to success. Every organization, whether government, private or nonprofit, must coalesce for the goal of making culture vital to downtown, and vice versa. Bricks and mortar alone will not create a successful, animated arts center. Stakeholders must assess their tasks, then implement strategy. There are many approaches, including creation of an arts/cultural district that can assume responsibility for culture's broader place in downtown.

IDENTITY. It is important to create a strong identity for existing arts and cultural organizations downtown so that each is seen as part of a whole "experience" rather than piecemeal independents. Such an identity provides marketing opportunities and connect complementary uses, such as day and nighttime activities, streets and shops. The identity helps to broaden the appeal of a downtown cultural center.

PARTNERSHIPS. Opportunites to form partnerships with nearby attractions should be mined to realize the full potential and marketability of a cultural center. Whether a sports complex, a convention center or a dining region, every opportunity to link art and culture with existing and planned attractions offer potential for increased success.

INVESTMENTS. In the same way that a cultural center will not thrive independently, nor can it be conceived of and built independently. The process is an excellent opportunity to consider what other investments might be needed to achieve the larger cultural and redevelopment objectives of downtown. For instance, surrounding streets and sidewalks often require upgrades to maximize appeal, and optimally, incorporate an overall urban design concept to connect an arts district. On a larger scale, long-term financial viability of the overall arts market requires attention and investment.

LEADERSHIP. The importance of early and strong leadership cannot be underestimated. All of the most successful arts centers have involved some combination of support from local (and in some cases state) government, business and philanthropic organizations. In many cases, one group rose above others to play an early, critical role in organizing stakeholders and providing a larger vision.

Research Questions for Seven Cities:
  • What have been the role of arts/culture/entertainment facilities in the redevelopment of downtown? What has been their impact?
  • Are there any studies or data that describe this impact?
  • Describe the type, capacities, location and attendance of downtown cultural and entertainment facilities.
  • Are there important connections between arts and cultural facilities and other significant elements of downtown (i.e. convention center, hotel base, sports arenas, retail centers, enteraintment venues, transit, downtown housing, tourism destinations or historic preservation objectives)?
  • What vehicles are used to manage and market cultural resources in downtown (i.e. an arts district, association, dowtown marketing organization, assessment district, etc.)?
  • How are these activities tied to the marketing, programming and management of downtown as a whole?
  • What are the budgets and funding sources for these activities?
  • Who have been the primary facilitators in creating and supporting these structures?
  • Are there non-downtown locations within your region that compete for arts and cultural attractions and audiences?
  • What has been their impact on downtown?
  • Are there maps, directories, marketing materials or other resources available for review?

From Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs site:

Research links

Building Arts and Cultural Districts, Speakers

Building Arts & Cultural Districts
May 15, 2009
Speakers Bios

Stephanie Coppula serves as the Director of Marketing and Communications for the Bethesda Urban Partnership, Inc.. As the director of the marketing department, Stephanie oversees the organization’s overall marketing plan which includes: large-scale festivals such as the annual Taste of Bethesda, advertising and public relations initiatives; downtown Bethesda’s Web site (http://www.bethesda.org/); specialized brochures and publications; the promotion of Bethesda’s 200 restaurants, 400 retail shops and numerous arts organizations. Additionally, Stephanie serves as the manager of Bethesda’s Arts and Entertainment District. During Stephanie’s tenure at the Bethesda Urban Partnership, she has spearheaded new initiatives for Bethesda’s Arts & Entertainment District that include The Trawick Prize: Bethesda Contemporary Awards, Bethesda Art Walk, Bethesda Fine Arts Festival, Dance Bethesda, Bethesda Painting Awards, Bethesda Artist Market and Play In A Day. Previous to joining the Bethesda Urban Partnership, Stephanie worked for Golin/Harris International, a public relations agency, where she worked on the McDonald’s Family Restaurants’ account implementing special events, media campaigns and crisis communication plans. Stephanie has also served as the Director of Communications for the Hotel Association of Washington, D.C. and on the Board of Directors for the Montgomery County Conference & Visitors Bureau and Suited for Change (SFC), a non-profit organization that provides professional clothing and ongoing career education to women who are transitioning from welfare to work.

Mark K. Flynn has been the Director of Legal Services at the Virginia Municipal League since 1998. A native of Southern Illinois and raised in Loudoun County, Flynn is a graduate of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (B.S. Forest Management, 1976) and Washington & Lee University Law School (J.D. 1980). He has served as county attorney in Tazewell and was the city attorney for Winchester for 11 years. He worked in private practice with the Richmond law firm of Sands, Anderson in 1997, specializing in local government and transportation law. Flynn is a past president of the Local Government Attorney's Association, an organization in which he has been active during his career.

Steve Galyean is a native of Galax, Virginia, and a graduate of Emory & Henry College in Emory, Virginia. He currently serves as the Virginia Tourism Corporation’s Director of Tourism Development. Prior to joining the staff of the Virginia Tourism Corporation in November 2005, he served as the Director of Tourism for the Abingdon Convention & Visitors Bureau in Abingdon, Virginia. Preceding his move to Abingdon, he was Executive Director of the Galax-Carroll-Grayson Chamber of Commerce in Galax, Virginia. Mr. Galyean has served two terms as President of the Virginia Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus, as well as Vice-President of Tourism Marketing and Treasurer of the organization. In addition, he is a member of the Board of Directors of the Crooked Road - Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail and has served on the boards of the Northeast Tennessee Tourism Association, the Virginia Highlands Festival, and the Tri-Cities TN/VA Regional Partnership.

Marjette Glass is the Director of the Office of Economic Development for the City of Lynchburg. Her responsibilities include working with existing businesses to help ensure their success in Lynchburg as well as interacting with businesses which may be considering locating here. To that end, she has helped foster communication and develop initiatives between City government, schools, colleges, and various business and manufacturing sectors. Marjette holds a degree from Mary Baldwin College and prior to her move to economic development, she was a successful sales professional in the trust banking and insurance industries and in telecommunications and data service sales. Her high energy style and varied talents serve her well in her commitment to service and the arts with numerous local organizations, which include serving as a Board Member for the Jefferson Choral Society, past Board member of the Friends of the Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra, Lynchburg Symphony Orchestra and the Dance Theatre of Lynchburg.

J. Lance Mallamo is the director of the Office of Historic Alexandria, the department of the City of Alexandria that is responsible for the stewardship and promotion of the historic City through the preservation of the City's historic and archaeological sites, artifacts and records, museum system, and for the use of these resources in accordance with professional standards of scholarship and museum procedures. The Office of Historic Alexandria is charged with providing heritage programs to enhance the quality of Alexandria's urban environment for visitors and residents by building a sense of community identity and continuity, preserving the historic cultural diversity of the City, and contributing to the City's national and international reputation. Other responsibilities include the administration of the Historic Preservation and Open Space Easement Program in cooperation with the Alexandria Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission, as well as providing staff support for the Historic Alexandria Resources Commission, the Public Records Advisory Commission, the Alexandria Historical Restoration and Preservation Commission and the Alexandria Archaeological Commission. From 1998-2007 Mr. Mallamo was the Executive Director of the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum in Centerport, New York, the former country estate of William K. Vanderbilt II, now Long Island’s largest general museum. Before that he was Director of Cultural and Historic Services for the Suffolk County, New York Department of Parks, the largest local park system in the United States, where he administered over 200 historic buildings and sites. Mr. Mallamo holds a Masters Degree in Urban Planning from Hunter College of the City University of New York, where he was awarded the James Felt Fellowship. He is also an honors graduate, with a major in History, of the State University of New York at Stony Brook.

Kyle Meyer, an urban and regional planner, specializes in community revitalization and historic preservation. While working at the Virginia Department of Historic Resources for the Rehabilitation Tax Credit Program, he developed a keen knowledge of certified historic rehabilitations, the historic registers, and preservation planning, in addition to green building and environmental management. Currently, Mr. Meyer is a Community Development Administrator for the Virginia Main Street program located in the Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development. Through Virginia Main Street he provides downtown and neighborhood commercial revitalization technical assistance and resources to designated Virginia Main Street communities and affiliates, to Community Development Block grantees, and to any other organizations, city, town or county governments across the state. He coordinates the Virginia Main Street training events and assists program managers in public relations and educational projects, and coordinates special downtown revitalization projects. Mr. Meyer grew up in the Richmond region, has an avid taste for music and art, and enjoys outdoor recreational pursuits and adventure travel.

Building Arts & Cultural Districts
May 15, 2009

Stephanie Coppula, Manager
Bethesda Urban Partnership
7700 Old Georgetown Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20814

Mark K. Flynn
Director of Legal Services
Virginia Municipal League
13 East Franklin Street
Richmond, VA 23219

Steve Galyean
Director of Development
Virginia Tourism Corporation
901 East Byrd Street
Richmond, VA 23219-4048
http://www.virginia.org/ (consumer)
http://www.vatc.org/ (industry)

Marjette L. Glass, DirectorOffice of Economic DevelopmentCity of Lynchburg828 Main Street, 10th FloorLynchburg, VA 24504434-455-4492

J. Lance Mallamo, Director
Office of Historic Alexandria
220 North Washington Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Kyle H. Meyer
Community Development Program Administrator
Virginia Main Street Program
Virginia Department of Housing and Community Development
501 North Second Street
Richmond, VA 23219-1321

PRESS RELEASE: Virginia Conference for Creating Arts and Cultural Districts Will Inspire and Educate Community Leaders

For Immediate Release, April 1, 2009

Contact: Peggy J. Baggett
Executive Director

Virginia Conference for Creating Arts and Cultural Districts Will Inspire and Educate Community Leaders

Richmond, VA – A statewide leadership conference for creating arts and cultural districts in communities across Virginia will be held on May 15, 2009 in Fredericksburg. The conference is hosted by The Arts & Cultural Council of the Rappahannock, and will take place at the newly renovated Catherine W. Jones McKann Center of the Fredericksburg Area Museum and Cultural Center.

Arts and cultural districts are special zones designed to generate businesses, attract tourists and foster civic pride by encouraging arts and cultural activities within the designated area. The conference will focus on how such zones are created and how an arts and cultural presence can serve as a catalyst for economic development and community building.

Conference attendees will learn about flourishing examples of such overlay programs and participate in a hands-on workshop to jumpstart a blueprint for establishing similar districts in their own region. Creation of arts and cultural districts has been aided by newly enacted state legislation, Virginia House Bill 1735, which empowers every community in Virginia to create an Arts and Cultural District.

Additional session speakers will share information about similar zoning programs, such as Virginia Main Street Programs, and Arts and Cultural District programs in other Virginia Communities. Presentations from the Virginia Tourism Corporation and the Virginia Municipal League will round out examination of districts from multiple points of view. Attendees will also be given a “hands-on” toolkit containing specific information about how to begin the process.
The conference is co-sponsored by Virginia Commission for the Arts, Virginia Alliance of Local Arts Agencies, Virginia Main Street Program, Virginia Municipal League and Arts & Cultural Council of the Rappahannock.

The registration deadline is May 8, 2009. A printable registration form and brochure are available online at www.rapp-arts.org.

About The Virginia Commission for the Arts
The Virginia Commission for the Arts is the state agency that supports the arts through funding from the Virginia General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts. The Commission distributes grant awards to artists, arts and other not-for-profit organizations, educational institutions, educators and local governments, and provides technical assistance in arts management. For further information about the Commission and its programs, contact the Virginia Commission for the Arts at 804-225-3132; arts@arts.virginia.gov; http://www.arts.virginia.gov/

Virginia Alliance of Local Arts Agencies
The Virginia Alliance of Local Arts Agencies strengthens and develops local arts agencies throughout the Commonwealth by facilitating networking, communication tools, research and meetings. For more information contact the Virginia Alliance of Local Arts Agencies at 804-852-9151; tiffanyglass@gmail.com; http://www.valaa.blogspot.com/.

Virginia Main Street Program
Since 1985, the Virginia Main Street (VMS) program has been helping localities revitalize the economic vitality of downtown commercial districts using the National Main Street Center’s successful Main Street Approach™. Main Street is a comprehensive, incremental approach to revitalization built around a community’s unique heritage and attributes. For further information, contact the Virginia Main Street Program at 804-371-7030; mainstreet@dhcd.virginia.gov; http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov/.

Virginia Municipal League
The Virginia Municipal League is a statewide, nonprofit, nonpartisan association of city, town and county governments established in 1905 to improve and assist local governments through legislative advocacy, research, education and other services. For further information, contact the Virginia Municipal League at 804-649-8471;
e-mail@vml.org; http://www.vml.org/.

Arts & Cultural Council of the Rappahannock
The Arts & Cultural Council of the Rappahannock serves the community of the George Washington Planning District (16) through support of the region’s arts and cultural organizations. The Arts Council helps those organizations build capacity and participate in the region’s cultural conversation; works with community and government entities to enhance educational, economic, and community-building activities; and engages the region in the cultural conversation of the state and the nation. For further information, contact the Arts & Cultural Council of the Rappahannock at 540-368-9080, by email at arts@rapp-arts.org, or on the web at http://www.rapp-arts.org/.