On March 29, 2013, the Massachusetts Cultural Council voted unanimously to approve downtown Gloucester as the Gloucester Harbortown Cultural District. What does that mean?
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. All are very special areas within municipalities and focal points of pride and collaboration.
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!
As of November 2013, nineteen cities and towns within Massachusetts have earned cultural district status as they possess an absolute "it" quality for arts & cultures and sense of place. The designation lasts for five years. Gloucester is the only city or town with not one, but two districts!
As of April 2013, 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.
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.