Cottage Street Cultural District
Having a designated Cultural District in the City of Easthampton is no small feat! This official state-issued designation puts Easthampton on the map as an arts community and cultural destination, and plugs the City in to the greater community of Cultural Districts throughout the state of Massachusetts!
What’s a Cultural District?
The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) has a program that designates state-approved cultural districts. In MCC’s words: “The evidence is clear: A thriving creative sector is one of our Commonwealth’s most powerful economic development assets”. In support of this, the Massachusetts Cultural Council Cultural Districts Initiative was launched in April 2011.
A cultural district is a specific geographical area in a city or town that has a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets. It is a walkable, compact area that is easily identifiable to visitors and residents and serves as a center of cultural, artistic and economic activity. The Cottage Street Cultural District designation places Easthampton in good company among over 40 other Cultural Districts in the state, and helps attract people to our City — to live, to work, and to visit for a uniquely Easthamptonl experience.
A Designated Cultural District Since 2012
Easthampton was an early participant in the MCC Cultural District Initiative. Located in the Pioneer Valley between the base of Mount Tom and the Nashawannuk Pond Park & Promenade, the Cottage Street Cultural District is known for its grassroots charm and its eclectic array of shops, galleries, and restaurants. By activating its indoor and outdoor spaces with arts programming and cultural events that draw thousands to the area each year, the Cottage Street Cultural District has directly contributed to growing the thriving cultural and economic development of Downtown Easthampton.
On the Map
The Cottage Street Cultural District is an initiative of ECA. ECA navigates the administrative requirements that come with being part of the MCC Cultural District network, and oversees the Cottage Street Cultural District Subcommittee. The Subcommittee — comprised of Cottage Street business owners, representatives from the Nashawannuck Pond Committee, representatives from Cottage Street Studios, and town residents — helps to vision, guide, and implement arts and cultural programming for the Cottage Street Cultural District.
The Cottage Street Cultural District Subcommittee is an initiative of ECA. Together, they recognize that a thriving creative sector is a powerful economic development asset. Bringing arts programming and cultural activities to the residents and businesses of Easthampton serves to support local creative and economic development while at the same time drawing visitors from throughout the region. In addition, our Cultural District designation connects us with other Cultural Districts within the MCC network. Participating in that network affords Easthampton the opportunity to share its programs with other Cultural Districts from across the state–and to learn from their programs in turn.
A Model Street Festival
One of the requirements of becoming a state-designated Cultural District is to hold an annual festival. In 2012, when MCC welcomed the Cottage Street Cultural District to the state’s diverse network of Cultural Districts, the Cultural Chaos festival was established to bring locals and visitors alike into our Cultural District. Each year, the Cottage Street Cultural District Subcommittee plans a festival that showcases the local talents of Easthampton’s creative community while working in partnership with local businesses as an effort to increase visitors and consumers within the District’s storefronts.
Cultural Chaos continues to grow and serves as a model for new Cultural Districts who are planning their inaugural event. ECA has presented about Cultural Chaos at MCC convenings and has shared its best practices, how to get started, and related knowledge around successful community cultural programs. Being connected to this vibrant network of Cultural Districts also brings much value to ECA as we are able to learn from other partnership models.