About the Arts & Cultural District Program

The Arts & Cultural Districts program was established by the Legislature in 2007 as a comprehensive economic development strategy designed to capitalize on the expanding “creative economy.” 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.

The Arts & Cultural Districts Program is a joint effort of three state agencies and private entities including New Mexico MainStreet, Department of Cultural Affairs divisions: New Mexico Arts and Historic Preservation, Tourism Department, and the McCune Charitable Foundation. The New Mexico Arts Commission is the state authorizer for new Arts & Cultural Districts while New Mexico MainStreet administers the program.

State-authorized Arts & 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 partner offers specialized assistance to the districts.

Support for New Mexico’s state authorized Arts & Cultural Districts is provided through a collaboration of:


The state’s Arts & Cultural District Council meets twice a year to review district planning efforts and monitor community progress. Applications for new districts are accepted as funding is available. Applicants are recommended by the Arts & Cultural Districts State Coordinator to the New Mexico Arts Commission, which officially designates the districts.

Off the Road in New Mexico

New Mexico MainStreet has created a dynamic interactive website to allow residents and visitors to search for historic and cultural attractions and businesses in New Mexico’s MainStreet and Arts & Cultural Districts. The site offers easy naviga­tion of many cultural amenities and complements economic development efforts of New Mexico MainStreet and its local communities, creating another venue to promote and market local assets and draw new visitors into the districts, impacting local businesses such as hotels, restaurants and boutiques with positive economic benefits on the districts as a whole.