#1. Millville, New Jersey
Glasstown Arts District
What makes it special: Designated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as a Main Street Community in 2004, the Glasstown Arts District has been thriving for more than eight years. With affordable, mixed-use properties featuring period architecture, monthly art walks, a large public art center with gallery and studio spaces, and lots of cultural activities, this river town of 26,000 is an energetic place to call home.
What it offers: The town’s annual marketing budget clocks in at just over $300,000, bringing in a lot of tourists. Plus, if you purchase a mixed-use property in the Glasstown Arts District, you can get a facade grant of up to $10,000 (1:1 match) to improve the front of your home. While many Main Street Communities offer such grants for businesses in their districts, it’s the mixed-use designation that makes Millville unique among grant programs.
Contact: Marianne Lods, Executive Director, Millville Development Corporation, 1-800-887-4957, Marianne@glasstownartsdistrict.com
...And #7. Paducah, Kentucky!!!!
Art mag paints Millville as hot spot: City says honor is 'a very big deal'
MILLVILLE -- A national publication has etched Millville into its list of top arts districts.
The March issue of Art Calendar, a national business publication for visual artists, lists the top cities for working artists. Millville is the only Garden State town to make the list.
The district, now in its eighth year, has 16 galleries, which displays the works of about 150 artists, Lods said. But the city wants to do more.
On Monday, local artists and other city officials met for the monthly Mayor's Arts Task Force to discuss ways to bring new artists to the city. Proposals include a fellowship program, and creating new grants and loan programs, Lods said.
"I know we were growing, but we have a long way to continue to develop and grow," she said. When the New Jersey Motorsports Park opens in the summer, "we have to be ready to step up the to the plate and hit a home run."
The distinction already has helped the district, Lods said.
Last Friday, a Las Vegas-based artist called Lods to discuss relocating to the city, after she saw the list.
The publication considered criteria such as artist relocation programs, financial assistance, reasonably priced workspace, tax benefits and marketing assistance.
Art Calendar's editor Kim Hall, who wrote the story, said hundreds of communities are trying to create arts districts, but Millville is unique because of the district's success in helping artists.
"They focus on artists and want them to have an established community and make a good living," she said.
Hall said the districts were not ranked in any particular order.
Art Calendar credited Millville for its annual marketing budget of more than $300,000 and a grant program for artists to upgrade their façade.
This was the first time the publication, which has a circulation of about 15,000, created this type of list, Hall said. The publication relied mostly on reputations among artists, she said.
"A lot of places will have one artist move in, and they're very proud of that," she said. "Millville is making it a very strong place for artists to live."
Maryann Cannon, owner of the La Bottega of Art and The Village on North High Street, has found the city much more accommodating than other towns. Cannon got a low interest loan to open her businesses, which displays works of several other artists.
The city "called and said 'we want you,'" Cannon said.
The artists all talk to each other, and their works all complement one another, Cannon said.
"The artists have a say" in the district, she said.