Ridgefield, CT

Ridgefield Earns Designation for State’s First “Cultural District”

Connecticut by the Numbers

Connecticut's first "Cultural District" will be in Ridgefield.Town of Ridgefield image

The State Department of Economic and Community Development’s (DECD) Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) has approved an application from the Town of Ridgefield to establish a Cultural District in town. Ridgefield is the first municipality in the state to receive the designation.

Under a state law approved in 2019, Cultural Districts are walkable areas of a city or town that feature numerous cultural facilities, activities and/or assets. These vibrant areas draw visitors from other towns and states and serve as a hub for residents to congregate and interact.

Under the law, Cultural Districts:
  • Promote and encourage artists, entrepreneurs, and creative businesses
  • Promote tourism and increase visitation
  • Improve the quality of life for residents
  • Strengthen distinctive character of communities
  • Drive economic growth and expand the tax base
  • Highlight local culture and history

“This program recognizes the essential role that local arts and cultural resources play in the building healthy communities over the long-term,” said Liz Shapiro, DECD’s Director of Arts, Preservation and Museums. “I applaud Ridgefield for taking the initiative to establish the district and ensuring that arts and culture are at the heart of their planning efforts moving forward.”

"The people of Ridgefield have long appreciated the abundance of arts and culture in our town. We are thrilled that the state also recognizes all that Ridgefield has to offer, by giving us the first Cultural District designation," noted long-serving Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi.

Ridgefield’s Economic & Community Development Commission (ECDC) announced in July that it was planning to apply to the state to have an expanded area around downtown Ridgefield be officially designated as a “Cultural District” pursuant to a new law.  A public hearing on the plan was held in August.

“Ridgefield’s diverse arts and cultural offerings are fitting and ideal for a Cultural District designation,” said Lisa Scails, Executive Director of the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut. “We’re proud of their leadership and for being a model for other municipalities.”

The Cultural District area holds numerous cultural assets including ACT (A Connecticut Theater), the Ridgefield Theater Barn, the Ridgefield Guild of Artists, the Ridgefield Playhouse, the Ridgefield Historical Society, the Ridgefield Library, the Prospector Theater, Ballard Park with its CHIRP summer concert performances, the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance, RPAC art gallery, Thrown Stone theater group, Lounsbury House, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center.

“I look to working with local leadership as the program expands in the future,” Shapiro added, noting that a requirement of the program is the city or town must establish a Cultural District Commission that manages all aspects of the district.                                           

In Western Connecticut, Ridgefield is home to more than 8,800 households and 25,000 people.  Numerous profit and nonprofit organizations joined the ECDC’s Cultural District Subcommittee in order to support the application to the State.

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