California Cultural Districts: What’s Next?

Updated 11/1/2016

As you may be aware, new California legislation has empowered the California Arts Council to designate areas as state cultural districts. A cultural district is defined as a geographical area with a concentration of cultural facilities, creative enterprises, or arts venues.

We know that every city and town in California is different, and we want to ensure that California’s first statewide cultural districts program is reflective of the unique realities, opportunities, and challenges that exist in communities large and small across our state.

That is why we are seeking input from you, the public, as we undergo the planning process for the new statewide cultural districts program. We are seeking public input to help us develop a program that is reflective of the distinct features that make our communities unique.

We’ve retained the services of consultants Jessica Cusick and Maria Rosario Jackson – experts in public and community arts – as the facilitators of our program development process. Throughout the planning process, we will be reaching out to our arts community, as well as key stakeholders from various sectors including local businesses, community organizations, chambers of commerce, local governments, main street associations, and departments of transportation, public safety, planning and development.

Public Input Meetings

Between now and November, we will be holding five public input meetings in various locations across the state. Click here to view a PDF of the presentation shared at these meetings.

  • “True North” Public Input Meeting – September 8th in Redding
  • Central Valley Public Input Meeting – September 29th  in Fresno
  • San Diego Region Public Input Meeting – October 3rd in Escondido
  • Bay Area Public Input Meeting – October 5th in Oakland
  • Los Angeles Public Input Meeting – October 24th in Los Angeles

Throughout this process, we will be asking key questions of communities across the state, such as:

  • When you think of “cultural districts,” what comes to mind for you?
  • What would be the benefits of a cultural district in your community?
  • Whose involvement would be essential to the success of a cultural district in your community?


All interested parties are encouraged to weigh-in via brief online survey, available at this link: The survey should take no more than 10 minutes to complete. (Survey now closed.)

This exciting opportunity would not be possible without the cultural districts legislation authors. We extend a special thank you to Assemblymember Richard Bloom and Assemblymember Marie Waldron for their leadership and support.

Our Council will review the program recommendations at our December meeting. It’s expected that the cultural districts program and application process will launch in 2017. In the meantime, our work continues, and we look forward to engaging with you along the way!

Want to stay up-to-date with the latest California Arts Council news? Sign up for our free California ArtBeat weekly newsletter at this link:

19 thoughts on “California Cultural Districts: What’s Next?

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  5. The best kind of arts district is the one that equally benefits the city government, the art scene, and the businesses in the district. Revitalizing a neighborhood on the backs of an existing neighborhood won’t benefit any of these groups in the long run. If cities want to benefit from their arts and culture community, then it needs to be in a fair and responsible way. Planned arts districts may not have the same flavor of authenticity, but they will have the most positive impact. Let the organically grown neighborhoods be themselves without government interference.

    As arts and economic development continue to be linked, and several cities and states have already combined these two governmental departments, the question of what those in the arts field get out of this relationship becomes more important. The arts and culture communities are serving these cities in many beneficial ways – they contribute to urban revitalization, economic development and artist centers. They provide cities with a better quality of life and allow them to brand themselves as creative and cultured in order to promote tourism, attract new residents and encourage new businesses. With minimal or no financial incentives for these districts, local governments are getting quite a bargain.


  6. This is a wonderful and important project for CAC to undertake but I agree that San Bernardino and Riverside Counties including the Inland Empire, Coachella Valley, Morongo Basin (Joshua Tree Gateway Communities) and the High Deserts of Barstow, Victorville, Baker, Needles, etc. are not included in these five districts. There are numerous arts and cultural assets and venues and visual, performing, and literary artists living and working in these areas. I encourage the scheduling of a Public Input Meeting in Joshua Tree, since it is viewed internationally as a unique site of arts and culture.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Sant, Thanks for weighing in. Unfortunately, for this project we are only able to conduct five in-person meetings — and with a state our size, that is not an easy task. That said, our online survey will be a critical tool in gathering input from areas across the state where we are not able to hold an in-person meeting. Stay tuned for the link. Additionally, we invite local communities to gather independently and consider the key questions include in the post above, and to submit input directly to us.


  7. CAC folks~
    Excited to hear that the agency will be soliciting public and community comments for the next step in the process for designating various areas in California as cultural diatricts.

    I look forward to participating in the survey to be distributed in the fall.

    -Ron P. Muriera
    National Trustee – Northern California Representative
    Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS)

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am very much interested in seeing Hayward, California identified. We begin our identifier as the birth place of the west coast blues and a very culturally diverse community. We have the reputation of having been a power house in farming and winery


  9. Dear Ms. Cusick,
    I look forward to your Southern California dates and specifically invite you and the Ca Arts Council to consider convening in Riverside. My particular interest in cultural districts stems from a vision of the Spanish Town Heritage Foundation restoring a 150 year old adobe and recreating La Placita de los Trujillos, the first and largest non-native settlement in Inland Southern California before California was California to showcase the arts and culture of Spanish California.
    Looking forward to your Southern California forums.
    Nancy Melendez, President
    Spanish Town Heritage Foundation

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree with Nancy. The Inland Empire, within which Riverside sits, and East through our San Gorgonio Pass and into the Coachella Valley, should absolutely be included. The communities within these areas are ripe with culture and art. In fact, it is our culture and art that defines and creates an appreciation of who we are…our rich diversity. This helps people live well together. It seems these first meetings are convening along the coast. Please consider moving your interests East, to Riverside and other Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino counties) and Coachella Valley cities. Thank you. Lauren Savord, Grant Writer, Citizen, 951-827-5062


      1. Hi Lauren, Thanks for your comment. Our in-person meetings are just one tool we’re using to gather input. Unfortunately, for this project we are only able to administer a limited number of meetings. That said, our upcoming survey and additional interviews will provide key input from locations across the state, including the Inland Empire. We hope you’ll weigh in online.


    Exc.Director “PACFAM” Inc.(PACIFIC FAMILIES Inc.)
    ++ We Pacific Islanders Community apprecitate very much this new move of helping CALIFONRIA n PEOPLE with the ARTS , and looks like a NEW FRONTIER for our Pacific Community thruout North and Southern Califonia to prerserve and sustain our ART LEGACY for we Native Hawaiians and Pacific islanders have been a part of California life since begining of time . We have Hawaiians, Tongans, Samoans, Fijiians, Marshalese ,Tahitians etc. Many of our families economics is sustained via the Arts , Crafts, Music & Dance Performances, Culture Celebrations ,Traditional Medicines ,etc.,
    ++ We have a number of Pacific Islands events coming up , I would appreciate being a liaison for our Island Community and help set up an initial Northern/Southern California Pacific Island Cultural Geographical Zone.
    ++ A sample here : 1. FIJI COMMUNITY Cultural Arts event this Friday tomorrow August 12 2016. Sacramento with the USA/ Fiji Ambassador ..12th Ave, & Franklin Rd.6-11p.m 2. TONGA COMMUNITY Cultural Event ..August 26.2016. upcoming HAWAIIAN COMMUNITY “ALOHA FESTIVAL” ..Calif. State Fairgrounds .etc. etc.

    Aiona F. Teu. (Mrs.)


    1. Dear Mrs. Teu, Thank you for sharing this valuable input. We appreciate your comments, and we hope you will sign up for our mailing list to stay updated as the program develops. Specifically, we hope you’ll respond to our survey when it’s issued early this fall. Many thanks!


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