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Newest district joins 18 communities across Maryland ANNAPOLIS, MD (December 9, 2010)–Governor Martin O’Malley today announced that the Town of Bel Air has been selected to join the State’s Arts and Entertainment (A&E) Program. Administered by the Maryland Department of Commerce through the Maryland State Arts Council (MSAC), the program provides tax benefits designed to boost economic development and create a cultural district filled with artists and arts enterprises. Maryland was one of the first states to develop a statewide A&E program.  

December 09, 2010Press Release

“With this designation, the Town of Bel Air becomes the 19th Arts and Entertainment District in Maryland, joining the other jurisdictions that have received this distinction over the past decade,” said Governor O’Malley. “Maryland has received national attention for this creative initiative. Together, we can continue to develop and promote vibrant centers of commerce, culture and creativity throughout our State.”

“We are excited at the opportunities this designation affords us. The designation of the Town of Bel Air as an Arts and Entertainment District allows our community to pursue its goal of developing as a well recognized destination for cultural arts and recreational activities,” said Bel Air Mayor David Carey. “The program offers opportunities for tourism marketing efforts, new business ventures with property tax credits for investing in arts-related enterprises and tax incentives to qualified artists.”
The core of the district runs through the Town of Bel Air’s main street and is anchored by four cultural venues: Bel Air High School, Rock Field Manor, Shamrock Park and Reckord Armory. The Economic Development Department will oversee the program activities and set forth the groundwork for future plans for growth and revitalization.

Under the guidelines of the State’s A&E Program, the Secretary of the Department of Commerce can designate up to six districts each calendar year, but only one per county. As part of the designation’s benefits, artists working in the districts can receive an income tax credit. Developers who create spaces for artists to live and work can apply for qualified property tax exemptions for up to 10 years.

“As the Arts and Entertainment District Program continues to grow, communities across Maryland are able to take advantage of the economic benefits and tax incentives of the program,” said Department of Commerce Secretary Christian Johansson. “Bel Air is a vibrant community dedicated to the arts. The hard work and planning they put forth was evident in their application. They now join Elkton and Havre de Grace as cultural hubs in the northeast of Maryland.”

In addition to Bel Air there are 18 other jurisdictions across Maryland that have received the designation: Baltimore City’s Station North and Highlandtown, Annapolis, Berlin, Bethesda, Cambridge, Cumberland, Denton, Elkton, Frederick, Frostburg, Hagerstown, Havre de Grace, Salisbury, Silver Spring, Snow Hill, Gateway District (Prince Georges) and Wheaton.

Application information is available online on the Maryland State Arts Council website at For more information, contact Jesse Rye at (410) 767-8851.

The Maryland State Arts Council is an agency of the Maryland Department of Business & Economic Development, Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts and is dedicated to cultivating a vibrant cultural community where the arts thrive. In 2008, non-profit arts organizations and arts programs that received operating support from the State Arts Council contributed more than $442 million to the State’s economy and provided more than 11,000 full-time-equivalent jobs to Maryland residents.

For information on the Maryland State Arts Council and its programs visit their website or email, or call 410-767-6555 or TTY 410- 333-4519.

Group Photograph (L-R): Bel Air Town Administrator Christopher Schlehr, Bel Air Director of Economic Development Trish Heidenreich, Department of Commerce Deputy Secretary Dominick Murray, Bel Air Director of Planning Carol Deibel, Bel Air Mayor David Carey, Bel Air Town Commissioner Robert Reier, Bel Air Town Commissioner Terence Hanley, Maryland State Arts Council Executive Director Theresa Colvin, Department of Commerce Assistant Secretary for Tourism, Film and the Arts Hannah Byron, (back row) Maryland State Arts Council Program Director Jesse Rye.