HB1735, initially sponsored by Chief Patron Delegate Shannon Valentine, proposed that all Virginia localities have the authority to create arts and cultural districts without individual authorization from the Virginia General Assembly.
The localities will have the authority to grant tax incentives and provide certain regulatory flexibility in the arts and cultural districts. The tax incentives include, but are not limited to, reduction of permit fees, reduction of user fees, and reduction of any type of gross receipts tax. The regulatory flexibility includes, but is not limited to, special zoning, permit process reform, and exemption from ordinances.
Arts and cultural districts are an increasingly popular economic development tool for local governments across the country. When theatres, performing arts centers, museums, art galleries, and artist studios are encouraged to locate in the same neighborhood, the neighborhood becomes a magnet for the general public.
Restaurants, gift shops, and art supply stores soon follow. Commercial enterprises, such as graphic design studios, advertising agencies, and architectural firms are attracted to such areas. When localities can achieve a critical mass of arts-related activities in a single area, these neighborhoods are appealing to what is often called the creative class of workers, many of whom prefer to live in and at least in close proximity to the arts and cultural districts.
Nine localities in Virginia have individually received authority from the Virginia General Assembly to create arts and cultural districts. These localities are the Cities of Alexandria, Charlottesville, Falls Church, Harrisonburg, Manassas, Petersburg, and Winchester and the Towns of Blacksburg and Chincoteague. These districts are in varying stages of development. There are also several communities in Virginia, including Lynchburg and Norfolk, that have not requested General Assembly authorization but that are actively promoting their arts and cultural districts without offering tax incentives or regulatory flexibility.
NASAA's Creative Economy Resource Center: provides practical tools, timely information and strategic technical assistance to cultural leaders at the state and regional levels. The resources included here are designed to help state arts agencies make informed policy decisions about the creative economy in their state.
Artist Space Development reearch conducted by Mario Rosario Jackson, Florence Kawasa-Green and Christopher Walker of the Urban Institute addresses the process, support systems, key players, finance strategies and challenges for the development of artist spaces.
Sample: The development of affordable spaces for artists to live and/or work is certainly an important matter for artists, but it can also be an important issue for people concerned with a range of social issues, including economic development, civic engagement, community collective action, and community quality of life. This report considers how artist space developments have been positioned and the arguments made to garner support for them, the advocacy strategies used, and the impacts claimed or anticipated.
Creativity and Neighborhood Development by The investment Fund demonstrates how the arts and culture con be key ingredients in neighborhood revitalization. The publication calls for investing in community-based creative activity and offers Investment ideas for three specific areas creativity, development and knowledge.
Cultivating “Natural” Cultural Districts, Authored by Susan Seifert and Mark Stern, University of Pennsylvania's Social Impact of the Arts Project. This brief uses existing research on urban culture and community arts to make a case for culture-based revitalization from the bottom up. This brief highlights a particular kind of social network—the geographically-defined networks created by the presence of a density of cultural assets in particular neighborhoods. Because “natural” cultural districts evolve through the self-organized efforts of local players, the challenge for policy-makers is how to do sensitive social investment that maximizes community benefits.
City Repair: an organized group action that educates and inspires communities and individuals to creatively transform the places where they live. City Repair facilitates artistic and ecologically-oriented placemaking through projects that honor the interconnection of human communities and the natural world. The many projects of City Repair have been accomplished by a mostly volunteer staff and thousands of volunteer citizen activists.