The South Carolina Arts Commission has named downtown Lancaster and a portion of downtown Spartanburg as state-recognized cultural districts. A cultural district is an easily identifiable geographic area with a concentration of arts facilities and assets that support cultural, artistic and economic activity. The cultural district designation was created by the S.C. General Assembly and Gov. Nikki Haley in 2014.
Spartanburg’s 1Spark Festival
Each city’s leading arts organization worked with local leaders and Arts Commission staff to develop a map of cultural assets and a strategic plan for the district. 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.
Related: Chapman Cultural Center invites Spartanburg artists to submit qualifications for cultural district logo design.
“The recognition as a cultural district will help enhance the vibrant arts initiatives in Lancaster,” said Cherry Doster, marketing and development manager for “See Lancaster.” “The cultural district designation is another way to help increase support of existing businesses and attract new ones.”
City of Lancaster Administrator Helen Sowell remarked, “The City of Lancaster is honored to have received this award. Our city is fortunate to have a number of local artists who have educated our citizens to understand the importance of art not just to the community, but especially to our school children. Our own resident artist, Bob Doster, has worked tirelessly to teach our children to embrace their creativity and to explore and appreciate all forms of art.”
Non-arts businesses and organizations are important pieces of a cultural district, says S.C. Arts Commission Executive Director Ken May. “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 cultural districts legislation is a new initiative that promotes the value of the arts and the benefits of economic growth to promote a thriving local arts environment,” said S.C. Arts Commission Chairman Henry Horowitz. “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.”
Lancaster and Spartanburg join Rock Hill as the state’s first three cultural districts. Other states with similar cultural district programs include Massachusetts, Kentucky, Texas and Colorado.
South Carolina cities, towns and rural communities interested in cultural district designation are invited to contact Rusty Sox, (803) 734-8899.
Image above: Downtown Lancaster