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.

Districts must be located within designated Priority Funding Areas and must carefully coordinate with local plans and policies for economic development, including thoughtful engagement with other state designation programs.

Applicants must:

  • be a county or municipal government in Maryland,

  • select a geographic area with a significant level of arts activity, entertainment venues, and/or arts business, and

  • include arts and entertainment in the area’s economic development strategy.

Before applying for A&E District designation, the applicant must: 

  • Communicate with all municipalities and counties involved in the proposed district and obtain agreement with all impacted governments concerning the tax credits associated with the designation, and
  • Complete an Intent to Apply form online describing the proposed district and including pertinent contact information. The Intent to Apply form is due 90 days before the application deadline you choose.
  • For detailed application requirements, please see the A&E District Designation Guidelines. 

Districts complete an application as specified in the A&E District Designation Guidelines. 

Deadlines for A&E District applications are April 1st and October 1st. 

A&E District applications are reviewed in three steps:

  • Staff review of submitted application for completeness and adherence to regulations;
  • A review by the MSAC A&E Districts Advisory Committee, which includes representation from the departments of Commerce, Housing & Community Development, Transportation, and Planning as well as current A&E District managers; and,
  • Final decision by the Maryland Secretary of Commerce.

In 2001, Maryland became one of the first states to create a designation program for arts or cultural districts. Since then, 29 A&E districts have been designated, and the flourishing of the arts in those Maryland communities has brought many social as well as economic benefits. 

The program's most recent economic impact study shows that in fiscal year 2018, events and new businesses in the Maryland A&E Districts then in existence 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.

Click here to view the FY2018 A&E Districts Economic Impact Report.