MSAC Announces Maryland’s 25th Arts & Entertainment District in Oakland
Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) is pleased to announce Maryland’s Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill has approved the designation of the state’s 25th Arts & Entertainment (A&E) District in Oakland.
Effective July 1, 2017, the designation makes available a set of tax credits and incentives meant to encourage economic development through the arts. These benefits include property tax credits for development that supports spaces for arts enterprises and artist housing; income tax credits for artists living in Maryland who work and sell within any of the 25 A&E Districts; and exemptions from the admissions and amusement tax for businesses located within district boundaries. Previously designated districts throughout the state have leveraged the designation with great success, generating arts-centered revitalization and places for artists to live and work, with each district retaining characteristics that make them unique.
Oakland’s A&E District will look to the town’s past as a mecca for visual and performing artists as inspiration. The arrival of the B&O Railroad in 1851 brought an influx of visitors and with them came the growth of cultural activities available for both the resort guests and residents alike. The Oakland Renaissance A&E District will build on renewed interest in the town by artists and arts-related businesses to revitalize its downtown and attract tourism, seeking to make the town a thriving hub of arts activity once again.
Maryland State Arts Council's Arts & Entertainment Districts Program was established in 2001 to encourage community engagement, tourism, and revitalization through tax-related incentives that attract artists and spur economic and community development through arts-related businesses and activities. In FY2014, the state's 22 A&E Districts supported an estimated 6,000 direct, indirect, and induced jobs (more than $198 million in wages) and over $571 million in total state GDP.
Oakland’s application effort was spearheaded by Karen Reckner, executive director of the Garrett County Arts Council, at the request of the Greater Oakland Business Association and included input from representatives of the Garrett County Historical Society, the Garrett County Board of Realtors, Our Town Theatre, The Town of Oakland, the Greater Oakland Business Association, and Eloqui. Oakland’s Renaissance Arts & Entertainment Advisory Board is now in the planning process to begin to realize the goals outlined in the application.