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Arts District Idea Hits a Hurdle

Last year, the Council discussed with Dr. Sheri Parks, the Associate Dean, College of Arts and Humanities of the University of Maryland, about the possibility of establishing an arts district in College Park near the UMD campus.

As a follow-up, City staff convened a meeting of representatives from the University of Maryland, County Council Members Glaros and Taveras, the County Executive’s Office, the Gateway Arts District, and the Maryland State Arts Council. The County Executive’s Office provided correspondence outlining why the County Executive would oppose an expansion of the Gateway Arts District. Although participants support more arts and entertainment events in the College Park area, many expressed concerns about any expansion or creation of a new designated arts district. Additionally, based on the Gateway Arts District experience, the State incentives offered by the designation have not been as significant a driver of arts and entertainment investment as perhaps envisioned originally.

There was some discussion of what structure or entity could be used or created by the University and the City to support an expanded arts capacity in this area. See the attached meeting summary for additional information. Based on the meeting discussion, an application to expand or create a new arts district would require a significant amount of work, and it would likely be opposed by important local leaders.

The amount of work, likelihood of success, and value of the designation does not make this an attractive option. At tomorrow’s worksession, the Council will discuss these recent developments and will decide whether to move forward further in establishing an arts district in College Park.

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