Historic Preservation > Cultural & Entertainment Districts

Cultural & Entertainment Districts


Iowa Cultural District SignWhat is a Cultural District?

A cultural district is a well-recognized, labeled, mixed-use, compact area of a community in which a high concentration of cultural facilities serves as the anchor. Cultural districts can be found in small rural communities or in large urban areas with the potential for more than one cultural and entertainment district. They are established to encourage city and county governments to partner with a local community nonprofit or for profit organization, businesses, and individuals to enhance the quality of life for citizens of this state. Cultural districts also enrich local economies through developing and sustaining cultural facilities in a synergetic fashion.

More than 90 cities in the United States have planned or implemented cultural districts—positioning the arts and culture as the center of revitalization efforts. The impact of cultural districts is measurable. The arts and areas with historic structures attract residents and tourists who also support adjacent businesses such as restaurants, lodging, retail and entertainment. The presence of the arts and cultural opportunities enhances property values, the profitability of surrounding businesses and the tax base of the region. These districts attract a diverse and well-educated workforce—a key incentive for new and relocating businesses. And these districts contribute to the creativity and innovation of a community.

Purpose of Iowa’s Certified Cultural District Program

Recognizing the benefits of cultural districts, in 2004 the State of Iowa established a state certification process for cultural districts.

Eligibility Requirements to be a Certified Cultural District

A city or county (jointly if a district extends across a common boundary) must collaborate with a local community organization to apply for certification of a cultural district by submitting an application in accordance with the instructions.

Application Requirements

Check back for information regarding the 2013 application round or contact Kathy Gourley at (515) 281-3989, Kathy.Gourley@iowa.gov.

Review Process and Timeline for Certification

Each application will follow a three-step process.

  • Applications shall be reviewed by the program staff for accuracy and eligibility.
  • The Cultural District Advisory Committee will review applications and make recommendations to the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs director.
  • The Director of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs shall make the final certification decisions. Cultural Districts will be certified each year, depending on the quality and quantity of applications received.
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