State Cultural Districts: Policies, Metrics, and Evaluation


Research Abstract
State Cultural Districts: Policies, Metrics, and Evaluation

The National Assembly of State Arts Agencies (NASAA) is the membership organization that unites, represents, and serves the nation’s state and jurisdictional arts agencies. Each of the 56 states and jurisdictions has created an agency to support excellence in and access to the arts.

NASAA’s research services help state arts agencies transfer ideas and understand data associated with administrative practices. These services allow for greater public understanding of the important work undertaken by state arts agencies and their role in supporting the arts, culture, heritage, and creativity in every state and jurisdiction. For many years, state arts agencies have articulated the public value of the arts in terms of economic, educational, and civic benefits and have initiated programs aimed at enhancing economic and community well-being through the arts.

Highlighting the economic benefits of the arts is a necessity for a majority of public arts agencies. State arts agencies have excelled at both implementing practices aimed at facilitating commerce through the arts and using research to better understand the contributions of arts and culture to the economy. These practices have been “mission critical” for many agencies, especially for agencies placed within economic development departments in state government. There are currently eight state arts agencies placed within economic development departments and five within tourism or cultural tourism.

State arts agency practices toward fostering the creative economy have evolved over the years and increasingly, state arts agencies are pursuing cultural district policies. State cultural districts are special areas designated or certified by state governments that utilize existing concentrations of cultural resources to further encourage local economic and community development.

Americans for the Arts has commissioned five essays spanning the intricacies of arts, entertainment, and cultural districts specifically for policymakers, arts leaders, planning professionals, community development practitioners, and others who are interested in developing new districts or adapting existing ones.

  • Creating Capacity: Strategic Approaches to Managing Arts, Culture, and Entertainment Districts
  • Cultural Districts: Bottom-Up and Top-Down Drivers
  • Cultural Tourism: Attracting Visitors and Their Spending
  • Art and Culture Districts: Financing, Funding, and Sustaining Them
  • State Cultural Districts: Metrics, Policies, and Evaluation

These essays and reports are part of our National Cultural Districts Exchange, where you can find more information on cultural district legislation, case studies, a national district survey, and a collection of webinars.


Stubbs, Ryan

Americans for the Arts
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