Legislation originally proposed by State Rep. John Frey (R-111) to allow municipalities to create designated cultural districts to create awareness and promote economic development unanimously passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday, May 21.

“I’m pleased this important measure passed the House and I am hopeful the Senate and the governor will follow suit and sign this pro-business, pro-community legislation into law,” Rep. Frey, co-sponsor of the legislation, said. “Increasing the visibility and awareness of the arts, especially on the local level, will bring communities together and encourage economic growth. This has the potential to benefit towns across our state. Our towns and cities - Ridgefield is a prime example - are rich is history, museums and other cultural attractions which are local economic drivers.”

Brought out as a Planning and Development Committee bill, H.B. 6939 - An Act Concerning the Establishment of Municipal Cultural Districts - lets local officials establish specific areas of their town or city as a cultural district to promote art, music and entertainment.

“Similar to Connecticut’s Antique, Winery and Brewery Trails, this legislation allows Connecticut municipalities, regardless of size or geographic location, to create designated areas to encourage and empower artists and performers to showcase their talents,” Rep. Frey said. “The entire community benefits when people come together to share an art exhibit or performance.”

Rep. Frey stressed that the measure does not regulate property use within any cultural district and is merely a recognition of the cultural venues within a certain geographic area. There are no additional costs to residents, businesses or visitors fees of any kind. The concept was presented to Rep Frey last year by a Ridgefield constituent.

“Businesses in areas that encourage artists and performers will also benefit from increased tourism as people from the surrounding area explore the town and enjoy new experiences,” Rep. Frey said. “This measure truly has the potential to bring communities together.”

Connecticut would join a few other states with similar Cultural Districts, including Massachusetts, Virginia and Indiana.

The bill now heads to the Senate. The 2019 legislative session ends at midnight on Wednesday, June 5.