New Albany Plans to Apply For Cultural District Designation of It's Downtown

by ekramer on July 2, 2010

Elizabeth Kramer

New Albany has been featuring more arts and culture in its downtown in recent years, and now it’s looking to have that area become a state-designated cultural district. The city officially indicated this week that it will apply next month to the Indiana Arts Commission to receive the designation.

City plan commission assistant director Scott Wood says the downtown already has many features and events that can help it in its application.

“New Albany’s bicentennial is in 2013 and we’ve already begun incorporating public art as part of the celebration of our bicentennial,” he says. “Downtown is also listed in the National Register of Historic Places; there’s some great architecture.”

The idea of state-designated cultural districts has been gaining ground since Maryland was the first state to start such a program in 2001. Kentucky is working on a pilot program and Indiana launched its program last year. Their features vary. Some programs provide tax incentives to businesses and nonprofits within districts. Others, like Indiana’s, provide tourism marketing support.

Wood says he thinks New Albany could use that kind of support.

“New Albany has an impressive mass of cultural facilities in its historic downtown that we thought really deserved to be considered for statewide cultural district certification,” he says. “That certification would be yet another tool in our toolbox that would help tourism downtown, the Carnegie Center for Art and History and many of the other facilities we have downtown as well as our private businesses.”

Cities with areas accepted into Indiana’s Cultural District Program do not receive funding at this time, but some policy makers think that could change if the economy improves.

New Albany is the only southern Indiana city this year to officially indicate its interest in being part of the state’s Cultural Districts Program. Earlier this year, the districts in Bloomington, Carmel and Lafayette received official state recognition.

PHOTOS: The New Albany Riverfront Amphitheater (top); Flood, a large-scale video projection onto the YMCA building of the Ohio River water by Valerie Sullivan Fuchs and part of the The New Albany Bicentennial Public Art Project (bottom).

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sally newkirk July 5, 2010 at 9:51 pm

We applaud the city’s decision to apply to the Indiana Arts Commission for recognition of the downtown as a cultural district. There is a growing and very exciting vibe downtown and we are delighted to be a part of it along with the other arts and cultural attractions like Padgett Museum and the Gallery on Pearl.

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