Arts & Culture
The Town of Ashland values and recognizes the important role that arts and cultural activities play in enhancing the quality of life for our residents. The arts help define a community, encourage its growth and development, and contribute to our local economy by attracting new businesses, residents, and visitors.
As such, and in conformance with Strategic Plan Initiative 2.1.4, which states: “Support Ashland’s expanding reputation as a destination for arts and cultural activities by increasing public art in the arts and culture district,” the Town of Ashland invests in this community's arts and cultural activities via the initiatives listed below.
Arts & Culture District
This overlay district provides BPOL tax relief to arts organizations and businesses as well as signage flexibility and waived fees. The district is centered around Ashland's historic downtown district.
As described in Section 6-117 of the Ashland Town Code, the Arts & Culture District was established to, “increase awareness and support for arts and culture in Ashland, specifically within the area designated as Ashland’s Arts and Cultural District."
The creation of an Arts and Culture District enables arts and cultural organizations within the district the ability to partner and build alliances to enable more effective promotion, cooperation, and collaboration. Arts and cultural districts encourage the growth of arts and cultural organizations as well as complimentary businesses and thus increase economic activity to the benefit of the entire community.
Arts & Culture Incentive
The purpose of the incentive program is to assist designated arts and culture businesses in meeting their mission while also providing free or reduced-fee arts and culture programming. To date, the Arts & Culture Incentive has been used by designated arts & culture businesses to provide free piano lessons, scholarships to cover dance class tuition for families in need, family paint nights, and more.
Ashland Fourth Fridays: The Town of Ashland contributes funding annually to the Downtown Ashland Association, which hosts Ashland Fourth Fridays -- a celebration of arts and culture in Downtown Ashland featuring sidewalk sales, art exhibits, live music, and outdoor dining. This valuable public-private partnership between the Town and DAA helps to enhance and amplify Ashland's arts and culture reputation and offerings to residents and visitors alike.
Ashland Theatre: A historic theatre and performing arts venue located in downtown Ashland, Ashland Theatre re-opened its doors in 2019 thanks in part to a public-private partnership brokered by the Town's Economic Development department. The Town of Ashland purchased the theatre in 2015 and leases the building for $1 to the Ashland Theatre Foundation, which operates the theatre and provides film, live performances, educational talks, and free community events.
CultureWorks: The Town believes in supporting the arts by investing in community partners that create programming aimed at reducing barriers to arts education and increasing opportunities for creative expression for all members of our community. Each year, the Town of Ashland provides funding to CultureWorks to organize and execute a free community art event in an Ashland neighborhood that lacks easy access to arts and culture experiences due to socioeconomic, language, and/or other barriers.
Saturday Soundtracks: Sponsored by the Town of Ashland, this free outdoor concert series enlivens the trackside historic district with live music on Saturday evenings from April through October.
Community Funding Requests: Each year as part of the Town's budget cycle, Town Council reviews funding requests from community organizations and nonprofits for potential inclusion in the Town's budget. Town Council is happy to have had the opportunity to provide financial support to local arts and culture organizations such as Hanover Arts & Activities Center and the Ashland Museum (among others), in recent years.
Questions about Ashland's Arts & Culture initiatives and programs? Contact Martha J. Miller, Community Engagement Manager by email or at (804) 798-9219.