hgazette.com, Haverhill, MA


March 27, 2014

It's official: Downtown a cultural hotspot

Designation brings $50K for projects

Anyone who says there’s no culture in downtown Haverhill is wrong. Literally.

The Massachusetts Cultural Council has designated a portion of downtown as an official cultural district.

Haverhill joins Newburyport and Lowell as other communities in the region with state-designated cultural districts. There are 23 statewide.

In addition to making Haverhill eligible for statewide marketing as a tourist attraction, the city received a $50,000 grant for the improvement and promotion of the so-called Haverhill Riverfront Cultural District.

The money will be disbursed by the Community Arts and Education Foundation, a nonprofit arm of the Greater Haverhill Chamber of Commerce.

Sven Amiran, the chamber’s executive director, said the money will be used to promote and support cultural assets downtown and potentially in other cultural venues in the city. The designation, he said, can also be used to strengthen future applications for state money for projects related to culture and tourism.

The new cultural district encompasses an area that includes Railroad Square, Wingate Street, parts of Washington and Essex streets, and other nearby streets.

State Sen. Kathleen O’Connor Ives is a member of the House Committee on Tourism, Arts and Cultural Development. She said the initiative is designed to aid the city’s efforts to expand economic development related to arts, culture and tourism.

“This designation is a helpful marketing tool for Haverhill businesses and highlights that Haverhill is a great place for artists and small businesses to set up shop,” the senator said. “This area is uniquely suited to be a destination. It’s easily accessible by highway and commuter rail in an area that’s walkable and bordered by the Merrimack River.”

The district is next to the river and includes many distinctive, historic buildings and arts-oriented businesses and shops.

“Our volunteers, the city of Haverhill, our state delegates, and the Mass Cultural Council all worked diligently and in perfect concert over the past few months to make this happen,” Amirian said. “The Cultural District designation truly shows that great things are happening in Haverhill.”

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