In 2001, Maryland became one of the first states in the country to enact legislation establishing a formal and coordinated program of Arts & Entertainment (A&E) Districts as a way to help revitalize communities and improve quality of life. The Allegany Arts Council is proud to support two successful A&E Districts in the cities of Cumberland and Frostburg.
An A&E District can be defined as "...a well-recognized, labeled, mixed-use area of the city in which a high concentration of arts and cultural facilities serve as an anchor attraction." Nationally, A&E Districts can be found in cities and towns of all sizes—each one uniquely reflecting its own artistic personality, local heritage, community assets, and cultural identity. Some A&E Districts succeed with creative street-scaping and signage, while others pursue the relocation of new artists to the community, or the renovation of existing buildings for new art-related enterprises. Many also focus on the installation of public artwork and the development of new arts programming as a way to attract more local residents and tourists into the District area. In the state of Maryland, there are also several relocation incentives to help entice artists and art-related businesses to settle within a designated District. At their core, A&E Districts are really all about community revitalization, economic development, and experiencing the arts!
There are currently twenty-two A&E Districts across the State of Maryland, and two of them are located in Allegany County. The City of Cumberland's A&E District was established in 2002, was expanded to almost twice its original size in 2007, and was officially re-designated for another ten year period in 2012. The Cumberland A&E District has been a great success, and is considered to be one of the State's model programs. The A&E District in the City of Frostburg was designated in 2009. Although still relatively new, the Frostburg A&E District is generating great excitement, and its positive economic impact is already benefiting the local community. The A&E District in Cumberland is co-managed by the Allegany Arts Council and the City of Cumberland. The A&E District in Frostburg is cooperatively-managed by the Allegany Arts Council, the City of Frostburg, and the Historic Frostburg Main Street Program.