BALTIMORE, MD (July 1, 2019) – Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kelly M. Schulz today announced the designation of two new Arts and Entertainment (A&E) Districts in Maryland. The Town of Easton and the area along the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor in Baltimore will join 26 existing Districts in the state. The Districts offer tax-related incentives to help attract artists, arts organizations, and other creative enterprises to these areas, and are aimed at developing and promoting community involvement, tourism, and revitalization. A&E District designations last for 10 years.
“Maryland’s Arts and Entertainment Districts serve an important role in revitalizing communities across the state,” said Secretary Schulz. “This designation helps attract artists and creative businesses and gives counties and municipalities the ability to develop unique arts experiences that engage residents and attract visitors. I look forward to seeing how these districts utilize the designations for community and economic revitalization.”
The Town of Easton on Maryland’s Eastern Shore has long been known for its vibrant mix of fine art galleries, performance venues, concert halls, art museums, and artist studios as well as a burgeoning artisan scene. The A&E designation comes at a time of heightened interest in arts-related business development within the historic commercial district, as well as a swelling of support for the expansion of downtown events and festivals. Along with encouraging arts activity in the town’s already thriving areas, the designation also looks to encourage community-led revitalization in areas of untapped development, extending the benefits that the arts have brought to the historic district to the East End of town.
The new Pennsylvania Avenue Black Arts & Entertainment District spans the Pennsylvania Avenue corridor in West Baltimore. The district’s application was spurred from a community-led revitalization effort that brought together several organizations looking to the corridor’s storied past as a hub of social, economic, and arts activity for Baltimore’s black community. In the area’s heyday, performance venues such as the Royal and Metropolitan theaters and social venues such as the Arch Social Club, Bamboo Lounge, Club Casino, and Club Tijuana hosted a who’s who of black entertainers, and black-owned businesses provided a stable community anchor and locus of commerce on Baltimore’s west side. Pennsylvania Avenue Black Arts & Entertainment District organizers plan to coordinate efforts to support arts, culture, entertainment, and creative enterprise that is of the community, and work towards eliminating blight and crime, creating a renewed Pennsylvania Avenue that is alive with the arts.
Along with the two new designations, the Frostburg A&E District has been redesignated for an additional 10-year period. During its second designation period, Frostburg hopes to elevate awareness of the district and the benefits available, secure funding for additional public art projects, attract artists, and market the town locally, regionally, and nationally as an arts destination.
A new economic impact study released this month shows that new businesses and events in Maryland Arts and Entertainment Districts collectively supported over $1 billion in state GDP, approximately $72.1 million in state and local tax revenues, and 9,987 jobs that paid over $320 million in wages in FY2018. Since the program’s inception in 2001, the growing number of districts across the state have helped communities spur economic revitalization and leverage the arts to work toward community-driven creative placemaking goals.
Managed by the Maryland State Arts Council, the designation program makes available a set of tax credits and incentives meant to encourage economic development through the arts. There are now 28 districts spread throughout 18 counties and Baltimore City, each working to promote its unique character while bolstering arts activity, promoting livability, and encouraging tourism. To learn more about the program, visit our website.