June 1, 2015 - Grantville Receives Arts & Entertainment Designation
After many months of planning by a group of dedicated volunteers, the town of Grantsville has received notice that the application for an Arts & Entertainment District designation has been successful.
Secretary Mike Gill of the Maryland State Department of Business and Economic Development sent a letter to the town on behalf of Governor Larry Hogan announcing the ten year designation. The award is effective July 1, 2015. In addition to Grantsville, the community of Chestertown in Kent County will become an A&E District. The towns of Denton and Salisbury will expand the boundaries of their existing A&E areas and Berlin's district has received a renewal of their previous designation.
Maryland is one of the first states in the country to develop Arts and Entertainment Districts on a statewide basis. A&E Districts help develop and promote community involvement, tourism, and revitalization through tax-related incentives that attract artists, arts organizations and other creative enterprises. The benefits offered to designated districts include property tax credits for new construction or renovation of buildings that create live-work space for artists or space for arts and entertainment enterprises. An income tax subtraction is available to artists that work and sell within the district. And an exemption from the Admissions and Amusement tax to an arts related business or qualifying residing artist is available through the ten years of designation. Through these incentives, the state is creating a structure for creative placemaking.
Grantsville becomes the first community in Garrett County to successfully obtain the A&E District title. The town has a rich history of being a haven for cottage industry arts. With the keystone attraction of Spruce Forest Artisan Village and signature events such as the Music at Penn Alps summer concert series and Grantsville Days, the town is positioned to grow the interest in the arts.
Former mayor and now Garrett County Commissioner Paul Edwards states "This is fantastic for our town and its revitalization efforts. The beauty of this is that we don't have to reinvent the wheel. We have a strong arts history here with well known Maryland photographer Leo Beachy, artist Aza Stanton, and world champion bird carver Gary Yoder, and the venue, thanks to Dr. Alta Schrock (Spruce Forest), to highlight and attract new artisans and tourists. We can take what we already have and expand on it and draw even more attention to it. This is a home run for Grantsville!"
Current Mayor Mark Diehl credits the committee that worked closely with Karen Reckner, Executive Director of Garrett County Arts Council in submitting the application to the Maryland State Arts Council review panel. "We hosted the folks from MSAC on May 1 and I think we 'wowed' them! The members of the business community, Spruce Forest and Penn Alps, our Grantsville Revitalization Organization and the others that came out that day demonstrated the excitement and energy that is happening in our town."
Reckner agrees that the community of Grantsville is working together to create a new environment within the town. This is evidenced by businesses such as High Country Creamery and Cornucopia Café, both scheduled to open soon. "On behalf of Garrett County Arts Council, our residents, and especially the artists that call Garrett County home, we thank Maryland State Arts Council, the Department of Business and Economic Development and Governor Hogan for the Arts & Entertainment designation."
Short-term and extended goals for the Grantsville A&E District have been established and include strengthening the town's appeal as a regional tourism destination, developing an Artist Relocation Program, installing public art projects and increasing the number of businesses and residents of the community.
Grantsville and Chestertown join 22 other A&E Districts across the state. The most recent Impact Analysis of Arts and Entertainment Districts across Maryland for the fiscal year 2014 indicates nearly $571.4 million in total state GDP was generated. 6.000 jobs were supported and visitor spending at events brought more than $38.5 million in tax revenues during the study period.