Benefits of being a Cultural District
Cultural Districts are well-recognized, labeled, mixed-use, compact areas of a city in which a high concentration of cultural facilities serves as the anchor. They are established to encourage city and county governments to partner with the local community to enhance the quality of life and enrich the local economy. They can also serve as destinations for visitors and for creative entrepreneurs who want to start businesses.
Fairfield, Iowa, is a superb example of the kind of city to which a Cultural District could bring great benefits. Having Cultural District certification will help draw attention to the cultural, historical and artistic attractions that already exist in Fairfield as well as build on those attractions, by encouraging further preservation of historic structures, promoting its artistic and cultural diversity, and promoting downtown Fairfield as an important regional cultural venue. It will lead to developing organizational, financial and business support systems to enhance the expanding creative economy in Fairfield.
Not coincidently, designation of the Fairfield Cultural District is consistent with the aims and objectives of Fairfield's ten-year Strategic Plan, particularly Goal # 4 - "to cultivate and promote Fairfield's cultural richness and recreational opportunities," and Aim 1B - "to revitalize our community's downtown as a hub of business, government and civic activity"
The impact of Cultural Districts is measurable. The arts and areas with historic structures attract residents and tourists who also support adjacent businesses such as restaurants, lodging, retail and entertainment. The presence of the arts and cultural opportunities enhances property values, the profitability of surrounding businesses and the tax base of the region. These districts attract a diverse and well-educated workforce -- a key incentive for new and relocating businesses. And these districts contribute to the creativity and innovation of a community.
The mere process of applying for and gaining certification as a Cultural District will create greater recognition of and encourage collaboration among Fairfield's many creative organizations, events and historic and cultural facilities. The formation of a Cultural District will bring added support for artists and art-based businesses of all types, and will draw more artists to live and work in the District. More tourists will visit the City, resulting in a vibrant, sustainable economy and a more interesting place to live, eat, shop and recreate.
More than ninety cities in the United States have planned or implemented a cultural district -- positioning the arts at the center of urban revitalization efforts. A cultural district is a well-recognized, labeled, mixed-use area of a city in which a high concentration of cultural facilities serves as the anchor of attraction. Cultural districts inhabit communities as small as Riverhead, New York (population 8,814) and as large as New York City (7.3 million). Cultural districts boost urban revitalization in many ways:
⚫ Beautify and animate cities
⚫ Provide employment
⚫ Attract residents and tourists to the city
⚫ Complement adjacent businesses
⚫ Enhance property values
⚫ Expand the tax base
⚫ Contribute to a creative, innovative environment.
No two cultural districts are exactly alike; each reflects its city's unique environment, history of land use, urban growth and cultural development.
The impact of cultural districts is measurable: the arts attract residents and tourists who also support adjacent businesses such as restaurants, lodging, retail and parking. The presence of the arts also enhances property values, the profitability of surrounding businesses and the region's tax base.