The Cultural District Initiative of the Massachusetts Cultural Council was authorized by an act of the Massachusetts state legislature in 2010 and launched in April 2011 to encourage Massachusetts communities to strengthen their sense of place while stimulating economic activity, improving the experiences of visitors, and creating a higher quality of life.
The evidence is clear: a thriving creative sector is one of the Heritage Area's most powerful economic development assets. Cultural districts help local arts, humanities, and science organizations improve the quality and range of their public programs so that more local families can benefit from them. They enhance the experience for visitors and thus attract more tourist dollars and tax revenue. And they attract artists, cultural organizations and entrepreneurs of all kinds -- enhancing property values and making communities more attractive.
One of the distinct attributes of the Heritage Area is the authenticity of its communities. From urban centers and fishing ports, to rural hamlets and older industrial centers, the Heritage Area incorporates a wide range of distinctive places.
The Essex National Heritage Area is home to 7 Designated Cultural Districts: