Montague applies for Turners Falls cultural district designation from the state

Recorder Staff
Published: 1/18/2017 11:35:16 PM

TURNERS FALLS — Montague town officials are applying to a state program that would designate Turners Falls as a cultural district in hopes of attracting more tourists, artists and grant projects to the area.

The town applied for the designation in 2011, but the request was denied by the state because the district proposed was too large.

But the new plan is more refined. The district runs from along Avenue A and Third Street with certain portions included because of cultural landmarks in the area. In the submission to the state agency that decides, the town has to include why the area is culturally important.

In the application, the town, chose to include the Shea Theater, Carnegie Library, Unity Park, Great Falls Discovery Center and the Canalside Rail Trail as some of the main cultural cornerstones. The town has also highlighted all live music venues, public art and art studios in the proposed district.

Suzanne LoManto, the director of Turners Falls RiverCulture is spearheading the project with Town Planner Walter Ramsey. The two held a meeting to gather public input for the proposal, which they plan to submit to the state this week.

The designation comes from the Massachusetts Cultural Council at the state level. That organization defines a cultural district as “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 state designation of a cultural district does not come with any grant funding but does allow for additional grant opportunities if the state does bestow the designation.

Greenfield and Shelburne Falls have cultural districts within their towns, according to LoManto.

The hope is that the cultural district will also bring more tourism and residents to the area.

“It’s important that downtown should have everything that people need, and that should include arts and culture,” LoManto said.


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