, Newburyport, MA

Local News

February 20, 2013

Port pursues arts district

Plan to create cultural area draws warm reception


Chamber President Ann Ormond highlighted a number of downstream benefits of establishing a well-defined cultural district, including enhancing property values, attracting more artists and increasing tourism.

Attractions located outside the boundaries of the district — such as Maudslay State Park and its resident Theater In The Open in Newburyport, Spencer-Peirce-Little Farm in Newbury and others — can also share in the benefits, provided they hold regular events within the bounds of the district.

Newly elected state Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives, D-Newburyport, who was recently appointed as co-chairwoman of the Senate’s Cultural Arts Committee, offered her assistance in helping the process along.

“Tourism is where it’s at,” she said, noting the Massachusetts Cultural Council is focused on helping communities grow.

With the requirement for a public hearing completed last night and a resolution from the City Council already in the works, Ormond said all that remains is to complete the application and submit the district’s inventory of cultural assets. That work will take a couple of months, she said.

Completing the cultural inventory is expected to be the most time-consuming aspect of the application process. A comprehensive list of cultural and historic assets, special events, artists’ spaces, businesses, public infrastructure and area amenities must be compiled.

With no funding currently available for the project, the Chamber and city are looking for assistance from the community to speed the process. Volunteers are being recruited for committees dedicated to outreach and planning, marketing and economic development.

Officials are hoping more volunteers will come forward to work on the three committees. Interested parties can sign up to help at the Chamber of Commerce office at 38R Merrimac St. on the Newburyport waterfront.

“This is a time for us all to come together,” Ormond said.

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