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Gloucester becomes first Mass. community with two designated cultural districts

Posted by Terri Ogan  April 9, 2013 01:23 PM

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The Massachusetts Cultural Council has approved Gloucester Harbortown as a cultural district, making the city the first in the state to have two such districts.

The other is Gloucester's Rocky Neck.

A cultural district is a compact, walkable area within a city or town that has a concentration of cultural facilities, activities and assets.

The boundaries of the new district include the area in between the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce at St. Peter’s Square, to the start of Gorton’s Seafood on Rogers Street, and from the Harbor and Maritime Gloucester up to City Hall.

“This designation recognizes Gloucester for its artistic and cultural vibrancy,” said Mayor Carolyn Kirk in a recent announcement. “The Gloucester Harbortown Cultural District will serve as a center for cultural, artistic and economic activity downtown.”

The goals of the cultural district program are to attract artists and cultural enterprises, encourage business and job development, establish the district as a tourist designation, preserve and reuse historic buildings, and foster local cultural development.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council visited downtown Gloucester in February to tour the area prior to voting on the designation. The council designated the Rocky Neck area of Gloucester as a cultural district, along with the nearby Rockport Cultural District, in early 2012.

There are now 15 cultural districts state-wide, including the Fenway Cultural District, the Natick Cultural District and Lowell's Canal Way Cultural District.

Each designation lasts for five years and can be renewed.

Terri Ogan can be reached at oganglobe@gmail.com, or follow her on Twitter.

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