Marlborough district seeks cultural status
In an effort to generate more business, Marlborough Downtown Village, an organization of residents, business, and property owners, has been trying since 2010 to attract artists and other cultural enterprises to the Main Street area while preserving and reusing historic buildings.
This year, group members are hoping for a boost to their efforts by getting the area designated as a cultural district by the state, a move that will make it eligible for grants.
Together with the regional chamber of commerce and the city’s Economic Development Corporation, the village group will ask Mayor Arthur Vigeant and the City Council to apply for the cultural district designation.
“We have been trying to work on the arts and activities that are more artistically and culturally related,’’ said Mary Scott, the group’s chairwoman.
If the collaborative effort can make the Main Street district “a historical and cultural attraction, people will start to come,’’ she said.
Susanne Morreale-Leeber, president and chief executive of the Marlborough Regional Chamber of Commerce, said the group plans to submit the application by next Sunday to the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and the decision would be announced sometime in the spring.
The state agency will be looking for things that set the Main Street district apart from other areas of the city, and that will draw people in, she said.
Morreale-Leeber thinks the Main Street district already has the cultural and historic flavor the state is looking for, with sites such as the old fire station, City Hall and the Walker building, a variety of restaurants, small downtown parks offering entertainment, and two art galleries.
“It’s a positive move for the city to designate an area because we have so many cultural and arts events. We have a beautiful Main Street,’’ Morreale-Leeber said, and the designation “will encourage more people to come downtown.’’
Vigeant would not commit to supporting the application, but he said he thinks the initiative is moving in a positive direction.
If the designation is approved, Marlborough would be eligible to apply for grants and programs that benefit cultural districts.
Tim Cummings, director of operations for the Marlborough Economic Development Corporation, said the group has “worked really hard to put this thing together because it will benefit residents, business owners, and revitalize the economy of the city.’’