FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2012
Liakos, Communications Director 617-858-2700 x22720 or
Communications Officer 617-858-2700 x22724
Massachusetts Cultural Council Announces
Four New State-Designated Cultural Districts
(Lowell, MA) - Concord, Lowell, Natick, and Shelburne Falls are home to the newest Massachusetts state-designated Cultural Districts. The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) Board voted unanimously yesterday to approve the recommended designations during its meeting held in the heart of one of the new districts at Lowell’s Boott Cotton Mills Museum.
“I’m pleased to announce the designation of these four exceptional communities as the Commonwealth’s newest cultural districts,” said Anita Walker, MCC’s Executive Director. “Their striking architecture and unique histories fused with rich cultural offerings, makes them ideal places for citizens and visitors to explore and working artists to thrive. These designations will continue each community’s remarkable creative momentum for years to come.”
A cultural district is a compact, walkable area of a community with a concentration
of cultural facilities, activities, and assets. MCC’s Cultural
Districts Initiative grew out of an economic stimulus bill
passed by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2010. It is designed
to help communities attract artists and cultural enterprises,
encourage business and job growth, expand tourism, preserve and
reuse historic buildings, enhance property values, and foster
local cultural development.
Each new district will have signage, an online profile on the Mass. Office of Travel and Tourism and MCC websites, and other amenities. The Initiative builds upon one of the great strengths of Massachusetts: the distinctiveness and authenticity of its communities. Cultural Districts help cities and towns identify, support, and promote their unique identity and sense of place.
Other previously designated
Massachusetts Cultural Districts include – Boston’s Fenway
Cultural District, Gloucester’s Rocky Neck Cultural District,
Lynn’s Central Exchange Cultural District, the Upstreet Cultural
District in Pittsfield, Hyannis’s HyArts Cultural District, and
the Rockport Cultural District.
Concord Center Cultural District
The Concord Center Cultural District is a picturesque New England village that looks like a page out of history. 18th, 19th and 20th century buildings in a National Historic District are the backdrops for world-class dance performances, concerts and art exhibitions. Although you see a bit of history at every turn, you are invigorated by history being made today by goldsmiths handcrafting jewelry, artists creating works of art and teaching their craft, and performers taking an evening dining experience to another level.
The first battle of the American Revolution took place here on April 19, 1775. Listen to fife and drum corps from all over the nation as they march down Main Street at the annual Patriot’s Day Parade complete with marching Minutemen and historical re-enactors on horseback. The Concord Players traces its history back to 1856 and pays homage to its founder, Louisa May Alcott. Today, the Players perform at The Performing Arts Center at 51 Walden, which is also home to the Concord Band and the Concord Orchestra. And there are more than 50 resident artists at Emerson Umbrella Center for the Arts that open their studios twice a year. Concord’s ArtWalk, Sizzlin’ Summer Sidewalk Sales and Holiday Shopping Night bring Concord’s merchants, artists, and performers to the streets. Concord Center was the hub of activity for centuries of Concord residents and remains so today.
Lowell’s Canalway District
How many urban landscapes offer both whitewater rafting and Smithsonian affiliate museums right in their downtown? Lowell’s cultural district offers both, as well as a thriving arts community. Lowell National Historical Park, Whistler House Museum of Art, Angkor Dance Troupe, and Merrimack Repertory Theatre are just a few examples of the city’s flourishing creative network. With seven large-scale annual festivals, a wide variety of performance spaces, hundreds of concerts per year, innovative creative spaces for making and exhibiting artwork like The Arts League of Lowell, Brush Art Gallery and Studios, and unchARTed, and more than nine countries of cuisine in three city blocks, Lowell is the premier entertainment city of the Merrimack Valley.
Natick Center Cultural District
The Natick Center Cultural District’s majestic, late 19th-century, “neo-gothic” architecture serves as a visually impressive historic platform for the district’s numerous cultural offerings and its cultural anchors – The Center for Arts in Natick (TCAN) and the municipally-owned Morse Institute Library. Another key cultural amenity within the cultural district is the town common. Quintessentially New England, with its ample green space and wooden gazebo, the common provides an ideal stage for a busy calendar of free public concerts and festivals. The district is a culmination of over a decade of historic preservation and public and private investment in the town center’s streetscape and façade improvements, and cultural facilities. In 2003, TCAN opened its doors in downtown – following an impassioned rescue mission by a group of local citizens and the thoughtful restoration of Natick’s historic (c. 1875) Central Fire Station on Summer Street – into the premier performing arts center in the MetroWest area. TCAN drew nearly 20,000 attendees to its 300 performances, classes, lectures, film programs, and art exhibitions during the past year. The Cultural District is home to over 100 working artists and dozens of independently owned businesses. Events such as the yearly Natick Open Studios, the Art Walk and historic walking tours knit together the Cultural District’s many activities. And, just steps away from the Common, the world-renowned Walnut Hill School for the Arts brings artists from all over the world to Natick, and down to Main Street to perform in the heart of this wonderful little town.
Shelburne Falls Cultural District
This rural pairing of two villages on either side of the Deerfield River joined by an historic iron bridge – Shelburne and Buckland – is a delightful surprise. Honored as one of the “100 Best Small Art Towns in America” the towns are recognized as a nationally desirable cultural destination.
Shelburne Falls gets it all right – preserving its historic, small town character while being open to the best of modern life. It is a village with a thriving cultural community nestled in the heart of farms and country roads. Enjoy world class opera in Memorial Hall’s 1898 Met Live series. Visit eclectic art and crafts galleries and studios throughout the village. Enjoy the ambience of Mocha Maya’s Coffee House offering live music year-round. The Bridge of Flowers, once a busy trolley bridge, is now a world famous garden. Visit the trolley museum, or the candlepin museum, or the curious geological potholes. Linger in local eateries. Fun family friendly fairs and festivals throughout the year celebrate the arts cultural and nature of Shelburne Falls and the surrounding hill towns.
About the Massachusetts Cultural Council
The MCC is a state agency supporting the arts, humanities, and sciences to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts and its communities. The MCC pursues this mission through of grants, services, and advocacy for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists. The MCC is funded primarily by the state and through grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, and others. It achieves its mission through grants, services, and partnerships to nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists.