Arts & Entertainment Districts

Maryland’s Arts & Entertainment (A&E) Districts help develop and promote community involvement, tourism, and revitalization through tax-related incentives.

Maryland's 29 A&E Districts are unique destinations, attracting audiences, artists, arts organizations, and other creative enterprises to specific neighborhoods in Maryland’s towns and cities. Each reflects the traditions and evolving culture of its community and invites residents and visitors to experience the best Maryland has to offer.

Program Information

The goal of the A&E Districts program is to develop, promote, and support diverse artistic and cultural centers in communities across Maryland that preserve a sense of place, provide unique local experiences, attract tourism, and spur economic revitalization and neighborhood pride.

In turn, this furthers the State’s goal of reinvesting in existing communities and creating places that help people, businesses, the economy, and the environment thrive as articulated in the Maryland Department of Planning’s Reinvest Maryland strategy. Click here to read more about Reinvest Maryland. 

 

Strategies supported by the A&E Districts program include:

  • creating accessible, unique arts destinations;
  • leveraging the State’s regional identities, natural resources, and heritage;
  • facilitating opportunities for dynamic arts experiences that actively engage community members and attract visitors;
  • enabling artists of all disciplines to live, work, and prosper
  • create an economically prosperous future; and
  • investing in the power of place.

In 2001, Maryland became one of the first states to create a designation program for arts or cultural districts. Since then, 29 districts have been designated and Marylanders have reaped the social and economic benefits the arts bring to communities. 

The program's most recent economic impact study shows that in fiscal year 2018, events and new businesses in 25 Maryland A&E Districts supported more than $1 billion in state GDP, approximately $72.1 million in state and local tax revenues, and 9,987 jobs that paid more than $320 million in wages.

 

A&E Economic Impact Report 2018

Click here to view the 2018 A&E Economic Impact Report. 

 

A&E Economic Impact Report 2016

Click here to view the 2016 A&E Economic Impact Report. 

  • Property Tax Incentives
    The owner of a manufacturing, commercial, or industrial property is eligible for a local property tax credit based on the difference between the pre- and post-renovation assessments of the property when it has been wholly or partially renovated for use by "qualified residing artists" or "arts and entertainment enterprises."

    The amount and duration of the tax credit, as well as the application process, is determined by the local government. Click here to find district manager contacts via the Maryland Arts Directory to inquire about the incentives available in a particular district.
  • Artist Income Tax Subtraction Modification
    A "qualified residing artist" who lives in Maryland and sells "artistic work" in any of the 25 A&E Districts throughout the State is eligible for the income tax subtraction modification on income derived from their in-district sales (for performing artists, this includes income derived from performances in a district; for all "qualified residing artists", this includes internet sales originating in a district.)

    Eligible artists should submit a Form 502AE with their annual state tax filing to claim the modification. Click here to access Form 502AE. On the website, hover over "Forms," and choose 502AE on the drop down menu under "Individual Tax Forms."
  • Admissions & Amusement Tax Exemption
    Local governments may exempt from the admissions and amusement tax gross receipts from any admissions or amusement charge imposed by an "arts and entertainment enterprise" or a "qualifying residing artist" in an A&E District. 

    Click here to visit the State Comptroller's Office website to learn more about the Admissions and Amusement tax or to contact the office for additional information.​​

To determine eligibility, review the definitions below and refer to the incentive descriptions above. The Income Tax Subtraction Modification (ITSM) flowchart (click here to view) can help determine eligibility for that incentive, as can the ITSM FAQ in the next accordion. If you have additional questions after reviewing these materials, click here to complete the A&E Districts Question Form. 

  • “Artistic work” means an original and creative work that:
    1. is created, written, composed, or executed; and
    2. falls into one of the following categories
      (i) a book or other writing;
      (ii) a play or performance of a play;
      (iii) a musical composition or the performance of a musical composition;
      (iv) a painting or other picture;
      (v) a sculpture;
      (vi) traditional or fine crafts;
      (vii) the creation of a film or the acting within a film;
      (viii) the creation of a dance or the performance of a dance;
      (ix) the creation of original jewelry, clothing, or design; or
      (x) any other product generated as a result of a work listed in items (i) through (ix) of this paragraph.
  • “Arts and entertainment enterprise” means a for–profit or nonprofit entity dedicated to visual or performing arts.
  • “Qualifying residing artist” means an individual who:
    • owns or rents residential real property in the State;
    • conducts a business in any arts and entertainment district; and
    • derives income from the sale or performance within any arts and entertainment district of an artistic work that the individual wrote, composed, or executed, either alone or with others, in any arts and entertainment district.

What qualifies an individual residing artist to receive the Income Tax Subtraction Modification (ITSM) incentive? 
To qualify, a residing artist must own or rent residential property in Maryland, conduct an arts business in an A&E district, and gain income from the sale, performance, production, or publication of an artistic work, produced individually or collaboratively within an A&E district. 

Are qualifying residing artists able to claim the sale of artistic work produced outside of an A&E district but sold within one?
The artistic work must be proven to have been produced within an A&E district and also sold within one of the A&E districts.

Is the sale of a qualifying artist’s artistic work through a gallery, or storefront eligible?
The sale of artistic work created within an A&E district, by a residing district artist, that is sold by an art gallery or business within an A&E district is eligible. 

Are internet sales of qualifying Maryland artists eligible for the income modification?
The work must be created by a qualifying residing artist in any A&E district with a current designation and sold in any A&E district. Internet sales are eligible, as long as the other qualifications have been met and the work is shipped from within the district..

Is there a time restriction on the original date of production for artwork and the sale of the artwork within a district?
There is no time restriction provided in the statute.

Do the royalties, or other future payments to district artists qualify for the tax incentive?
Future income such as: royalties, licenses, and revenue from the sale of publishing or reproduction rights are not eligible for the subtraction modification. 

Is the subtraction modification allowable for artist collectives, or other collaborative groups?
The incentive is available only to independent individual artists, and sole proprietor businesses. 

What types of artists or art forms are eligible to be claimed for the ITSM?
Artists including visual artists, writers, actors, designers, and other creative professionals are eligible for the sale or reproduction of their artwork that meets the Artistic Work definition above. Specific disciplines that are eligible but not included explicitly in the statute's Artistic Work definition include:

  • Tattoo artists that create and apply original designs within an A&E district.
  • Furniture designers and fabricators that create unique pieces of furniture, provided the activities are not industry-related (see definition below).
  • Designers and fabricators of artisanal functional products (such as clothing, jewelry, or instruments) that create unique pieces, provided the activities are not industry-related (see definition below). 
  • Photographers that print, arrange, or otherwise manipulate and sell original photographs, provided the activities are not industry-related (see definition below). 

What does “industry-related” mean? 
Industry-related means work that would otherwise meet the artistic work definition but is produced at a large volume or for a commercial purpose (e.g. architectural designs for an architecture firm, graphic design for a marketing firm, etc.). Income from industry-related work does not qualify. Contact MSAC staff with specific questions. 
 
Is there a limit for the amount of income an artist can reduce through the modification?
No, there is no limit. The statute allows the artist to subtract all qualifying A&E income (to the extent included in federal adjusted gross income).

Do art administrators qualify for the ITSM incentive, if they plan and perform artistic works on behalf of their organization?
No. If the individual is an employee of an organization, their income does not qualify for the ITSM incentive.

Does a performing artist qualify? 
Income that an artist earns from the performance of an artistic work qualifies for the ITSM incentive. Income from the creation of an artistic work (e.g. choreography, direction, production of a film or play, etc.) also qualifies (as long as the income was not earned as an employee)  

Do artisan staff members of an organization qualify as artists? Is there a required percentage of artistic endeavor that must cover their scope of work?  
The wage income of members who are employees of the organization does not qualify for the subtraction modification. However, if those individuals separately derive income from artistic works they have produced in an A&E district, that income may qualify for the subtraction modification. For the artwork to be eligible, it must derive from an original idea, separate from the plans of a contracted designer. 

How does an artist file for the ITSM?
An eligible artist must file a completed 502AE form with their Maryland individual income tax return. Find current forms at marylandtaxes.gov.

What evidence do artists need to show to file for the ITSM? 
Artists claiming the ITSM should retain receipts, books, accounts, and other documentation that prove that the income qualifies for the incentive. 
 

Click here to view resources for A&E Districts, including legislation, annual reports, and marketing resources.

Opportunities

The Arts & Entertainment (A&E) District designation offers Maryland counties and municipalities tax incentives and other tools to encourage activity and investment in specific geographic areas where the arts are part of an economic development strategy. Read more
Annual operating grants support activities, programs, and projects in A&E Districts throughout Maryland. Read more
Network Technical Assistance Grants support organizational development for Maryland A&E Districts, County Arts Agencies, and Folklife Network grantees, funding activities can range from strategic planning to website development to marketing campaigns. Read more