Welcome! Located along the banks of the Potomac River, nestled among the mountains of Western Maryland, the City of Cumberland is a wonderful place to call home—especially if you’re an artist. With its beautiful surroundings, low cost of living, close proximity to major metropolitan markets, and high quality of life, Allegany County has long been a home for talented artists of all types. But in 2001, the City of Cumberland and the Allegany Arts Council formally joined forces to develop a plan for community revitalization that specifically involved the arts as a catalyst for economic development. In 2002, Downtown Cumberland applied for, and received, an official designation as a State-recognized Arts & Entertainment District. Through a combination of creative marketing strategies, innovative tax credits and generous redevelopment grants, (not to mention great word of mouth and lots of regional press!) dozens of artists and their businesses have already relocated to our growing arts community. Many of these artists have purchased and renovated historic buildings, and have established residences, working studios and/or retail venues in Downtown Cumberland and the surrounding districts. Coupled with the supportive artistic environment that has been created under the energetic leadership of the Allegany Arts Council, it's no wonder that so many artists--of all types--have chosen to make their home in Cumberland and Allegany County. You can learn more about some of the many artists and art lovers in our community by following the Artful Homes and Artist Registry links on this web site.
The City of Cumberland has a rich history that dates back to its origins as a military outpost in the years prior to the Revolutionary War. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the City of Cumberland evolved into a major transportation and commercial center as the western terminus of C&O Canal, a vital link in the nation’s emerging railroad system, and a prominent stop on the country’s first National Road. By the middle of the 20th century, the area was home to a wide variety of major manufacturing industries and the City of Cumberland could boast of a thriving economy, a vibrant cultural climate and an architecturally stunning downtown. By the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, however, changing economic circumstances resulted in the loss of area industry, and the fortunes of the local community began to change. Fortunately, within the last 8-10 years, the City of Cumberland has begun a wonderful renaissance, fueled in part by a growing arts and cultural scene, a new emphasis on tourism, and a continued focus on economic development at the City, County and State levels.
Today, in addition to a growing number of enterprising artists, Downtown Cumberland’s Arts & Entertainment District is already home to the Allegany Arts Council and its Saville Gallery, the Allegany Museum, the Cumberland Theatre, the Western Maryland Music Center, the New Embassy Theatre, the Tri-State Community School for the Arts, Windsor Hall (a multi-purpose performance venue), the Gilchrist Gallery of the Arts, the Gordon-Roberts House, the Graphicus Atelier print-making studio, a variety of retail and specialty stores, as well as the Canal Place Heritage Area, and the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. In addition, the Great Allegheny Passage and the C&O Canal Towpath "connect" right in the middle of the Cumberland Arts & Entertainment District, resulting in continuous trail for bikers and hikers of almost 320 miles from Washington, D.C. to Pittsburgh.
In addition to these cultural assets, and the many talented visual artists, musicians, performers and writers who make Allegany County their home, Downtown Cumberland's Arts & Entertainment District can also boast of a variety of restaurants and bars that feature live music and outdoor dining, a coffee shop, a creamery, a charming Farmer's Market every Thursday and Saturday during the summer and fall months, and a full schedule of seasonal events that include the Friday After Five music series, Saturday music at Canal Place, the annual Mountain Maryland Plein Air event, and the annual Mountain Maryland Art Sale and Tour. You can also follow this link to our on-line Photo Album for pictures from some of the many art events and activities that have taken place in and around our Arts & Entertainment District.
While it will always be "a work in progress," the effort to develop our community into a regional arts destination has been a great success. For seven of the last nine years, American Style magazine has recognized the City of Cumberland as one of the Top 25 small-size art cities in the country! Our Arts & Entertainment District program is frequently cited as a model for rural communities, and our executive director is a regular speaker and consultant on the topic of using the arts as a tool for community revitalization and economic development. In October of 2007, the Cumberland A&E District was formally approved for expansion to almost twice its original size. In March 2009, the City of Cumberland was recognized with State of Maryland's inaugural Outstanding Achievement Award for Arts & Entertainment Districts. In June of 2012, the Cumberland A&E District was officially re-designated for another 10-year period by the State of Maryland.
Today, despite a weak national economy, the City of Cumberland is holding its own. The cultural vitality in and around Downtown Cumberland is helping to keep our community moving forward, and is putting Allegany County on the map as an exciting place to live, work and create if you're an artist or an art-lover of any kind. Combined with the energetic leadership of the Allegany Arts Council, the opportunities for new artists to join our Mountain Maryland community are endless! Please follow these links for Relocation Incentives and Helpful Contacts, and give us a call or email if you'd like to learn more....