The city of Gaithersburg is planning to submit an application to the state of Maryland to have Kentlands designated as an official Arts and Entertainment District, according to Kentlands Downtown Partnership (KDP) At-Large Representative Joe Allen.
Americans for the Arts defines an Arts and Entertainment District as a “well-recognized, labeled, mixed-use area of the city in which a high concentration of arts and cultural facilities serve as the anchor attraction.”
The KDP first requested the city to seek the designation in spring 2011 in a letter to then-Deputy City Manager Tony Tomasello. The organization is now working with the city to complete the application, which is due to the state on Oct. 1.
Maryland is one of the first states in the country to sponsor Arts and Entertainment Districts as a way to stimulate the economy and improve the quality of life. The Arts and Entertainment District legislation enables local jurisdictions, municipalities and counties to apply for state designations for the Arts and Entertainment Districts within their boundaries and offers tax incentives as provided by law, including an exemption from the admissions and amusement tax levied by an “arts and entertainment enterprise” or “qualifying residing artist” in a district. The state’s goal is to develop, promote and support diverse artistic and cultural centers in communities.
“The city continues to research the pros and cons of the Arts and Entertainment District designation,” said Tom Lonergan, director of economic development for the city of Gaithersburg.
Additionally, the KDP has applied for tourist area signage to help direct patrons to the Kentlands downtown area, according to Allen. The Maryland State Highway Administration’s (SHA) Tourist Area and Corridor signage program provides a system of supplemental guide signs that direct motorists to qualified individual attractions within a geographical area. The qualified attractions within the Kentlands neighborhood include the Arts Barn, Kentlands Mansion and Main Street shopping district.
Through the SHA program, directional signage begins with signs on expressways or major highways. Ramp signs and conventional road signs then guide motorists to the desired tourist area. Ultimately, attraction and parking signs guide motorists to the parking entrance for the attraction they would like to visit.
The SHA program requires that a tourist area applying for signage must exhibit an overall “sense of place” unique from neighboring communities.
The KDP application for signage through the program was submitted to the Conference and Visitors Bureau of Montgomery County.