Oakland Becomes Maryland’s 25th Arts & Entertainment District
Maryland Secretary of Commerce Mike Gill has approved an application for official Arts & Entertainment District Designation for Oakland, making it the State’s 25th A&E District and its furthest west. Oakland joined Grantsville as Garrett County’s second such district when the designation took effect on July 1. The town is looking to its roots as a mecca for artists in the Appalachian region as inspiration for the Oakland Renaissance A&E District. Seeing recent renewed interest in its downtown from artists, arts organizations, and arts-related businesses, the town plans to use the tax incentives associated with A&E designation to build on revitalization efforts already underway.
Maryland’s Arts & Entertainment District Program was established through legislation in 2001 and is administered by the Maryland State Arts Council. The program encourages place-based community engagement, tourism, and revitalization by making available tax-related incentives that attract artists and arts-related activity to spur local economic and community development. In FY16, the State’s A&E Districts attracted 147 new events, 23 new festivals, and 117 new capital projects, with these new initiatives attracting an estimated total attendance of nearly 1.8 million people.