EASTON — Maryland Secretary of Commerce Kelly M. Schulz recently announced Easton as one of two new Arts and Entertainment Districts in Maryland. Easton will join 26 existing districts in the state in offering marketing and tax-related incentives to help current and prospective artists, arts organizations, and other creative enterprises, incentives that are aimed at developing and promoting community involvement, tourism, and revitalization.
“Maryland’s Arts and Entertainment Districts serve an important role in revitalizing communities across the state,” Schulz said. “This designation helps attract artists and creative businesses and gives counties and municipalities the ability to develop unique arts experiences that engage residents and attract visitors.”
According to the state commerce office, Easton, one of the state’s preeminent arts destinations, has long been known for its vibrant mix of fine art galleries, performance venues, museums and artists’ studios, as well as a burgeoning artisan scene. Now, the town hopes to build upon its already longstanding history with more opportunities for artists and arts organizations within the town’s borders.
“I think the destination of Easton as an Arts and Entertainment District further adds to our reputation as a center for a variety of art projects,” Easton Mayor Robert Willey said. “I would hope that people will take advantage of the opportunities that the designation provides and help to build on an already familiar label.”
The Easton Arts District will encompass over 110 acres including Easton’s Historic District, East End Neighborhood and outlying residential and commercial neighborhoods. Within this district, developers and arts organizations will benefit from a property tax abatement for artistic-related improvements to their structures, and qualified residing artists will receive an income tax subtraction from the State of Maryland for all art created and sold within an Arts and Entertainment District.
“The Avalon Foundation has grown to be the largest arts organization on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, right here in Easton, so naturally it is gratifying that Easton is receiving recognition,” said Al Bond, Avalon Foundation CEO and president. “More importantly, the tax incentives associated with the Arts & Entertainment designation could incentivize more private sector arts activity in town, which benefits everyone.”
In addition to the tax incentives, the newly designated district will feature existing and new arts-related events, from the world-class Waterfowl Festival and Plein Air Easton, to the new Easton Arts District Culture Crossing, a monthly artisans market along the Easton Rails-to-Trails beginning July 13.
“This A&E District designation is long overdue recognition of Easton’s status as the preeminent arts destination in the Mid-Shore Area if not the entire Eastern Shore of Maryland,” said Patrick Rogan, Talbot County Arts Council president. “Hats off to Ross Benincasa and the staff of the Town of Easton for achieving this important milestone at last.”
Spearheaded by Discover Easton, the Easton Arts District has been discussed over the years as an integral part of growing the arts economy in and around downtown Easton.
“The Easton arts community is one of the most robust in Maryland, and becoming a designated Arts and Entertainment District will allow us to continue to promote growth in one of the most successful industries in Talbot County,” said Ross Benincasa, Discover Easton executive director. “This collaborative effort among our office, the Town of Easton, Talbot County and the Talbot County Arts Council will ensure that the arts do not stagnate in Easton, but instead continue to flourish and expand with new offerings and events.”
To learn more about the Easton Arts District and arts-related events in Easton, head to www.artsineaston.com.
About Discover Easton
Discover Easton is a marketing, promotion and events 501(c)(3) non-profit organization operating as a member of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation. The mission of Discover Easton is to enhance, promote and preserve the vitality of Easton’s business owners, residents and visitors; and to bring awareness to the Town’s historical roots and lifestyles.
About the Maryland State Arts Council
Founded in 1967, the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC) is celebrating 50 years of service to the arts. As an agency of the State of Maryland’s Department of Commerce, Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts, MSAC encourages and invests in the advancement of the arts for all Marylanders. Its grants and programs support artists and arts organizations in their pursuit of artistic excellence, ensure the accessibility of the arts to all citizens, and promote statewide awareness of arts resources and opportunities. For more information, visit www.msac.org.
About Maryland Commerce
Maryland Commerce stimulates private investment and creates jobs by attracting new businesses, encouraging the expansion and retention of existing companies, and providing financial assistance to Maryland companies. The Department promotes the State’s many economic advantages and markets local products and services at home and abroad to spur economic development and international investment, trade and tourism. Since they are major economic generators, the Department also supports the arts, film production, sports and other special events. For more information, visit commerce.maryland.gov.