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Massachusetts Designates New Cultural District In Springfield

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The Massachusetts Cultural Council has approved the creation of a cultural district in Springfield. Advocates for the district believe it will help rebrand downtown Springfield.

The cultural district designation will help promote attractions such as the Springfield Museums and Symphony Hall and encourage the growth of art and music festivals and the so-called creative economy. Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno said there are huge benefits to having an official state-recognized cultural district in the heart of the city.

Sarno said he was grateful to the state panel for awarding Springfield the designation and he praised a local volunteer committee that led the effort to create the cultural district.

Representatives from roughly a dozen cultural institutions, downtown organizations, business groups and the city worked for months on the project, according to Holly Smith-Bove, President of the Springfield Museums.

The cultural district is a several square block area of downtown Springfield that includes the museums, the Springfield Armory National Park, Springfield Technical Community College, the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, various art galleries and performance venues, and several historic buildings.

John Simpson, an artist and lecturer at UMass Amherst says the district will showcase Springfield’s history

Evan Plotkin, the president of a property management company who has provided space for public art exhibits in several locations in downtown Springfield, said the cultural district will rebrand Springfield.

A name must still be selected for the cultural district.  Sixty-eight suggestions from the public were considered by a panel that has now come up with six finalists.  Mayor Sarno is a member of the selection panel.

Two of the proposed names include “ Birthplace of Dr. Seuss” and a third contains the title of a Dr. Seuss book:  Oh The Places You’ll Go

People can vote from the list of the six final names at Masslive.com

Sixteen cultural district designations have been issued in Massachusetts since the program started in 2011.

The record-setting tenure of Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno. The 2011 tornado and its recovery that remade the largest city in Western Massachusetts. The fallout from the deadly COVID outbreak at the Holyoke Soldiers Home. Those are just a few of the thousands and thousands of stories WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief Paul Tuthill has covered for WAMC in his nearly 17 years with the station.
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