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What is a Cultural District?

A thriving creative sector is usually among a community’s most powerful economic development assets and one that contributes greatly to the overall well being of residents and visitors alike.

Cultural districts help local arts, humanities, and science organizations improve the quality and range of their public programs so that more local families can benefit from them. They enhance the experience for visitors and thus attract more tourists and tax revenue. And they attract artists, cultural organizations, and entrepreneurs of all kinds, which often enhances property values and makes communities more attractive.

About the Nantucket cultural District

Here on Nantucket, our process began and continues as an initiative through a combination of Town of Nantucket, our island’s arts and cultural organizations, and leaders from the downtown business community.

Whether you love nature, history, or the arts, Nantucket offers each in abundance. Encompassing the island’s downtown core, the Nantucket Cultural District embraces the heart of the island’s wealth of arts and culture. Visitors especially like going back in time on Nantucket, with its cobblestone streets, historic public buildings, well-preserved homes, and hidden pathways. Strolling around the 28 blocks of Nantucket Cultural District, visitors encounter hundreds of houses and landmarks on the National Register of Historic Places and landmarks that are part of the National Historic Landmark district, sites that chronicle our nation’s past in this present day setting. A busy waterfront, which abuts the district, welcomes visitors daily via public boat transportation and is home to a world-class marina and scenic harbor, where international sailing and power vessels lay anchor alongside sport fishing boats and traditional scallopers. A short walk away takes strollers to stunning public beaches. Little wonder that many movies and books have made the island central to their stories.

Our Mission

To enhance the arts and culture of our diverse community and promote their importance for our health and happiness while encouraging their enjoyment by visitors and residents in collaboration with local businesses.

Our Goals

#1 Increase visitor and resident participation in cultural activities through programming, education and community engagement.

#2 Establish and expand collaborations among businesses and cultural institutions.

#3 Boost economic benefits for our cultural institutions and local businesses year round.

#4 Provide an inclusive experience of cultural and historic Nantucket. 

Learn more about the island at the Nantucket’s Official Website.

About the Massachusetts Cultural Council

In recognition of the importance of arts and culture, an act of the Massachusetts state legislature in 2010 created a process to designate local “cultural districts” throughout our commonwealth. With applications initiated by local communities, these areas are reviewed and determined under guidelines of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. Among the current 49 designated Cultural Districts in Massachusetts are the Village Cultural District and HyArts Cultural District in Barnstable; Beverly Arts District; Rocky Neck Cultural District in Gloucester; Newburyport Cultural District; Glass Town Cultural District in Sandwich; Vineyard Haven Harbor Cultural District and others including several in Boston. Many other Massachusetts towns have launched applications for the designation.

Nantucket Cultural District Work Group


David Sharpe

Visitor Services Coordinator
Email David

Email us at NCD@nantucket-ma.gov with any questions you have.