The South Carolina Arts Commission has named Rock Hill’s downtown as the first state-recognized cultural district in South Carolina. A cultural district is an easily identifiable geographic area with a concentration of arts facilities and assets that support cultural, artistic and economic activity. Rock Hill was the first city to apply for the new cultural district designation, which was created by the S.C. General Assembly and Gov. Nikki Haley in 2014. City officials will use the cultural district designation to attract visitors and residents to downtown and promote the area as a hub of arts and culture.
City of Rock Hill Mayor Doug Echols commented, “Rock Hill’s cultural initiatives thrive because of successful partnerships among local government, community organizations, the business community and patrons of the arts. We are confident this designation will lead to increased notoriety and economic development opportunities. I’m proud that the South Carolina Arts Commission honored us with this title, once again proving that Rock Hill is always on!”
The Arts Council of York County coordinated the application process, working with local leaders and Arts Commission staff to develop a map of cultural assets and a strategic plan for the district. “The cultural district recognition will enhance what is already a vibrant arts scene,” said Arts Council Executive Director Debra Heintz. “Promoting our downtown as a cultural district will increase support for existing businesses and attract new ones. Being identified with a cultural center is a plus for artistic organizations and other organizations, such as banks and restaurants that support the arts.”
Those non-arts businesses are important pieces of a cultural district, says Ken May, S.C. Arts Commission executive director. “A successful cultural district attracts creative enterprises, such as galleries and theatres, whose patrons want to dine out and shop, so nearby retail and other businesses benefit from that increased economic activity.”
The S.C. Arts Commission staff will assist communities in developing a brand and marketing their cultural districts. “The cultural districts legislation is a vibrant new initiative for the S.C. Arts Commission that entwines the value of the arts with the benefits of economic growth to promote a thriving local arts environment,” said Arts Commissioner and Rock Hill resident Dr. Sarah Lynn Hayes. “This program was developed after reviewing successful cultural district designations in other states and gathering input from key S.C. stakeholders, including representatives from economic development, tourism, local government and the arts. Naturally I am thrilled that Rock Hill is the first community to embrace this concept and that other communities have begun the work to achieve this designation. The Arts Commission is excited and ready to support others wishing to join Rock Hill.”
Other states with similar cultural district programs include Massachusetts, Kentucky, Texas and Colorado.
For complete guidelines, visit www.SouthCarolinaArts.com or contact Rusty Sox, (803) 734-8899 or firstname.lastname@example.org.