Just as the international art biennial Prospect.1 starts drawing cultural tourists to the city, state legislation goes into effect making designated areas into official Cultural Districts. In those areas, there will be no state or local sales tax on original works of art, and there will be tax incentives for renovation of historic properties. The law goes into effect on Nov. 1.
To make the most of the designation, Magazine Street gallery owners formed the Magazine Arts District or MAD About the Arts. The group is building a Web site to list participating galleries. The members hope it will spur further development of the area. Some of Pratts artists live in the neighborhood, says Margie Zuckerman of Cole Pratt Gallery. Katie Rafferty [work pictured] has her studio just two blocks from the gallery. We hope this brings people here to buy work and hope to see more galleries open.
The New Orleans area has many designated cultural districts (see here for a list and maps), including areas of the Downtown Development District, Lower Garden District, the French Quarter, Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard, Oak Street, Bayou Road, St. Claude Avenue, the lower Ninth Ward, Old Mandeville, Abita Springs, Old Algiers and many more. So far there are 29 districts. Local governments can designate more areas. There are different types of cultural areas some focus on visual art, others may focus on music or other disciplines.
The legislation (Act No. 298) builds on similar tax incentives to use the states cultural resources to generate industry and growth. A supporting study estimates that the state has roughly 145,000 jobs in the cultural arts.