On March 29, 2013, the Massachusetts Cultural Council voted unanimously to approve downtown Gloucester, Massachusetts, as the Gloucester Harbortown Cultural District. What does that mean?

All cultural districts are very special areas within municipalities and focal points of pride and collaboration. As of Spring 2015, there are 27 districts within 24 Massachusetts' cities and towns that have earned cultural district status. They possess an absolute "it" quality for arts & culture and sense of place.

Interactive MA cultural districts as Google map

The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) is a state agency that promotes, educates, and advocates for arts and culture resources. Since the 1980s, more and more local and state governments, some with arts agencies like the MCC, have led the way in establishing policy that fosters economic growth and sense of place through arts and culture. These cultural districts, State certified or not, can vary greatly.

In 2010, the Massachusetts legislature authorized the Massachusetts Cultural Council's Cultural District Initiative, which launched in 2011. By June of 2011, Gloucester began a quest seeking designation for its already naturally vibrant downtown. With such a winning combination of talented partners, and with the full support and lead partnership from the City of Gloucester through the Office of Mayor Carolyn Kirk, WE DID IT!

The designation lasts for five years. Gloucester has two districts as does Barnstable. Boston has 3 as of fall 2014.

There are 4 Cultural Districts on Cape Ann and 6 on the North Shore (with more coming soon!):
Gloucester's Harbortown and Rocky Neck Cultural Districts; Rockport; Essex; Newburyport, and Lynn.
North of Boston includes Concord, Haverhill and Lowell.

More about the MCC:
The MCC receives funding from the MA state legislature and from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), Bank of America, and others. The MCC in turn funds programs across the Commonwealth. There is no funding for the Cultural Districts. The local Gloucester Cultural Council (GCC) in recent years has received annual funding from the MCC, between $5000-$6000.