Caputo, Taliaferro, Jasey & Vainieri Huttle Bill to Create Special Designations, 'Artist Districts' Across New Jersey Clears Assembly Panel

Legislation sponsored by Assembly Democrats Ralph Caputo, Adam Taliaferro, Mila Jasey and Valerie Vainieri Huttle to promote New Jersey arts by establishing an "Artist District" designation in certain municipalities cleared its first legislative panel on Monday.

"Identifying artist districts throughout the state celebrates the rich history of arts and culture in our communities," said Caputo (D-Essex)."This legislation supports the New Jersey arts, its continued growth and its cultural impact on New Jersey's municipalities."

The bill would require the New Jersey State Council on the Arts to establish an "Artist District" designation for municipalities, to establish criteria for the designation and to work with the Division of Travel and Tourism to promote any Artist District as a destination for artists and visitors. 

"New Jersey has a thriving arts community that deserves a special designation," said Taliaferro (D-Cumberland, Gloucester, and Salem). "Municipalities are always looking for more ways to market, fund and recognize the work created in their communities. An 'Artist District' designation will open doors for municipalities to do all of these things."

A municipality which has been designated as an "Artist District" would have a unique opportunity to market its creative, diverse, entertaining and other notable services and venues. 

Under the bill, the council would establish criteria required for a municipality or area within a municipality to be designated by the council as an Artist District, including the minimum number of art related services and venues, such as businesses, galleries, museums, organizations performance halls, studios, theaters or other facilities, that must be located in the municipality or within the area of the municipality. An Artist District may also be a concentration of certain types of art, such as dance, literature or writing, film, music, or performing or visual arts, or types of services and venues. 

"This bill is an opportunity to help cities nurture their arts communities and grow their influence locally and statewide," said Jasey (D-Essex, Morris). "Designating artist districts creates a marketing opportunity for municipalities that may help generate additional revenue in the long run."

"Many states are developing artist communities as an avenue to promoting the amazing work of resident artists," said Vainieri Huttle (D-Bergen). "'Artist Districts' will help to highlight thriving art communities and further define New Jersey's arts and cultural landscape." 

The bill stipulates that the council designate no more than 25 municipalities or areas within municipalities as an Artist District. The council would, in consultation with the Division Travel and Tourism, adopt guidance or standards for an Artist District to advertise, market or promote itself as a destination for artist and visitors. 

The bill was released by the Assembly Tourism, Gaming and the Arts Committee in a morning session.