Arts & Cultural Districts

The Arts & Cultural Districts Program promotes the exceptional art and history of New Mexico while assisting communities in developing their cultural and artistic resources to create dynamic and economically vibrant districts. Established by the Legislature in 2007, as a comprehensive economic development strategy designed to capitalize on the expanding creative economy, the program is a joint effort of three state agencies and local partners. 

State agency partners in the program are the Economic Development Department’s New Mexico MainStreet Program, and Department of Cultural Affairs divisions New Mexico Arts and Historic Preservation. The New Mexico Arts Commission authorizes new Arts and Cultural Districts while New Mexico MainStreet serves as the State Coordinator of the program.

State-authorized Arts and Cultural Districts receive incentives such as assistance with developing cultural plans and enhanced historic tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic structures within the district. Each of the program partners offers specialized assistance to the districts as well.

State-Authorized Districts

Municipalities, Tribal Governments and Counties (where the village or town is unincorporated), under 50,000 in population who wish to invest in a cultural economic development revitalization strategy program, can inquire to the State Coordinator about applying. The New Mexico Arts & Cultural District Act (2007) specifies the general parameters and conditions for development. The ACD Start-Up process was established to provide start-up districts a period to build local ACD Coordinating Council capacity through collaboration with state Divisions, Agencies, and Institutions who assist the local Council with research and professional technical assistance.

State-Authorized Arts & Cultural Compounds and Institutions

There are often public cultural assets in a community that lie outside of an ACD District boundary but contribute to the cultural economy of the District. Or the cultural asset may serve as a destination in the community but lacks the traditional amenities of a district for cultural and heritage tourists such as hotels, restaurants and/or cohesive grouping of businesses that comprise a central business district. Such Institutions and Cultural Compounds may apply for State Authorization as a Compound or an Institution.

Municipally Designated Districts

Communities of more than 50,000 in population are empowered through the New Mexico Arts & Cultural District Act to municipally designate their own ACD District. The New Mexico Arts & Cultural District Act does prescribe the same parameters and conditions for municipally designated as State-Authorized districts. However, municipally designated ACD districts use their own resources rather than partner with the state.

It is important to note that communities that undertake Municipal Designation may, after accomplishing their own start-up process, petition the State Coordinator to be State Authorized.

For more information about the program, see the New Mexico Mainstreet and New Mexico Arts & Cultural Districts websites.

New Mexico has 12 affiliated Arts & Cultural Districts.

Downtown ABQ MainStreet Arts & Cultural District (State-Authorized)

Albuquerque is unique among Historic Route 66 cities in that it is the only location in the US where old and new alignments of the classic road intersect.

Artesia Arts & Cultural District (State-Authorized)

From early pioneers and ranchers to oil entrepreneurs, Artesia has been at the center of culture and commerce in southern New Mexico.

The Pearl of the Pecos Arts & Cultural District (State-Authorized)

The Pearl of the Pecos Arts & Culture District in Carlsbad believes effective arts-based city projects go well beyond the idea of “art for art’s sake.”

Corrales Arts & Cultural District (Start-Up)

The Corrales Arts & Cultural District is an artisan district that aligns with the Corrales MainStreet District, the existing Corrales Business District and Corrales Road Scenic Byway.

Historic Downtown Farmington Arts & Cultural District (Start-Up)

The Farmington Arts & Cultural District is an artisan district that overlaps with the Farmington Historic Downtown Commercial District.

Gallup MainStreet Arts & Cultural District (State-Authorized)

Gallup has embraced a combination of adventure tourism and authentic cultural experiences along Historic Route 66.

Las Cruces Arts & Cultural District (State-Authorized) *municipally designated. 

The District has been hosting cultural events such The Prado in Las Cruces, a three-month long exhibit of artworks from the Prado Museum in Spain.

Las Vegas Arts & Cultural District (State-Authorized)

With more than 900 buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, the streets of Las Vegas are a living history museum.

Los Alamos Creative District (State-Authorized)

Los Alamos is renowned for being home to the world’s most creative scientific minds.

Mora Arts & Cultural Compound (State-Authorized)

The Village of Mora, with a population of less than 2,000, is a pastoral community nestled in the Mora Valley of Northern New Mexico.

Raton Historic Downtown Arts & Cultural District (State-Authorized)

The growth of Raton as a railroad and mining town is reflected in its unique architectural heritage.

Silver City Arts and Cultural District (State-Authorized)

A town of only 10,000 residents, numerous galleries and art spaces contribute to the richness of Silver City.

State Coordinator
New Mexico MainStreet
NM Economic Development Department
Joseph M. Montoya Building
1100 South St. Francis Drive, Suite 1242
Santa Fe, NM 87505-4147

Mailing Address:
P.O. Box 20003
Santa Fe, NM 87504-5003
(505) 365-3998

Page header image, Artesia Art & Cultural District 2015.

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