OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation formalizing an Oklahoma Arts Council (OAC) program that provides a positive economic and social impact on cities and communities across the state has been approved by the Senate.
Sen. Julia Kirt, D-Oklahoma City, authored Senate Bill 106, also known as the Cultural Districts Initiative Act. The measure provides additional definition and accountability for the Oklahoma Cultural District Initiative program, which offers funding, guidance, professional consultation and certification to cultural districts across the state.
“Cultural districts focus on communities’ local history, artists and uniqueness,” Kirt said. “This initiative assists communities in identifying and leveraging their local arts and cultural assets to promote economic development through tourism and concentrated local investments.”
The program has already certified seven cultural districts and presented 20 cultural district development grants to communities across the state including Ada, Grove and Woodward. Certified Cultural Districts include Oklahoma City’s Paseo Arts District, the Tulsa Arts District and the Enid Arts and Entertainment District.
Kirt said formalizing this program will allow more communities across the state access to the resources and grant money awarded by the OAC, leading to an increase in cultural districts across Oklahoma.
“Cultural districts are vital for communities across the state because they stimulate positive economic growth,” Kirt said. “Just a few of the benefits communities have seen since the creation of these districts include incentives for new and relocating businesses, commerce growth, increased property values, decreased vacancy rates and an enhanced quality of life. I’m glad my colleagues see the importance these cultural districts have on our state and are committed to growing and developing this program across Oklahoma.”
The legislation passed with vast bi-partisan support. Rep. Judd Strom, R-Copan, is the House author for the measure, which now heads to the House for consideration.