Thanks to the efforts of a group of town officials, business owners and creative professionals, downtown Vineyard Haven has been named as the state’s newest cultural district. Tisbury’s application to create the Vineyard Haven Harbor Cultural District was approved during a meeting of the Massachusetts Cultural Council on May 14. An announcement was made at the selectmen’s meeting Tuesday.
The cultural district program was created in 2010 and launched in 2011 as a way to help Massachusetts communities promote arts and cultural organizations under one umbrella. With the addition of Vineyard Haven and Williamstown, which was also approved May 14, there are now 25 districts in the state. Several are on Cape Cod, including two in Barnstable.
Planning for the Vineyard Haven district began last March under the guidance of the ArtsMV collaborative. Tisbury selectmen voted to approve an application to the Massachusetts Cultural Council last June.
The town hosted a site visit for cultural council representatives in mid-April, which featured a tour of the proposed district. The area includes galleries and businesses on Beach Road as well as Main street and the William street historic district. The Katharine Cornell Theater, Vineyard Playhouse and Martha’s Vineyard Film Center are all contained within its scope, which includes over 220 businesses in total.
Selectman Tristan Israel and former selectman Jeffrey Kristal were on hand for the site visit, along with town administrator John (Jay) Grande. Vineyard Playhouse executive director MJ Munafo reported that cultural council executive director Anita Walker was particularly struck by the involvement of the officials.
“She was really impressed by the presence of the town,” Ms. Munafo said during Tuesday’s meeting. Ms. Walker had previously encouraged Vineyard Haven to apply for the designation.
“Given all the natural assets and the maritime history, they felt it was a great fit,” said Martha’s Vineyard Commission staff planner Christine Flynn.
The next step will be placing signs and creating a map of the district for people disembarking from the ferry.
“The state will actively be promoting our district as a destination that people should visit,” Ms. Flynn said. Massachusetts, she said, is “really pushing to promote the creative economy.”
A reception in honor of the two newest cultural districts will be held at the state house on June 25.