Downtown Plano Recognized as an Official Cultural District by Texas Commission on the Arts

Downtown Plano celebrated a big milestone on the evening of Dec. 8 when Jim Bob McMillan, Deputy Director of Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA), presented the neighborhood with its official designation as a cultural district. On hand to accept the honors were Plano City Council members David Downs and Angela Miner, along with Michelle Hawkins, the arts, culture and heritage manager for the city, and Alex Hargis, executive director for the Historic Downtown Plano Association (HDPA).

Deputy Director of Texas Commission on the Arts Jim Bob McMillan, Historic Downtown Plano Association Executive Director Alex Hargis, City of Plano Arts, Culture and Heritage Manager Michelle Hawkins, Plano City Council Members Angela Miner and David Downs at the Dec. 8 TCA presentation // photo Tim Sporcic

The City of Plano started working toward a formal cultural district designation in spring of 2015. City staff worked alongside the Historic Downtown Plano Association, Plano Arts Coalition and Cultural Affairs Commission to put together a package highlighting the qualifications for downtown. The formal application included a list of the cultural assets in the historic district, including public art, event venues, art galleries, historic buildings, museums, restaurants, shops and urban living spaces.

An artist in 2015’s Chalk It Up festival // photo Jennifer Shertzer

Events such as Plano International Fest, Artfest, Steinfest, Dickens, Night Out on 15th, the monthly Art & Wine Walks and the summer Movies in the Park series were listed as big draws to downtown for both locals and out-of-towners. The application also included letters of community support from arts organizations, details of long-range marketing plans and proof of financial and administrative sustainability.

According to its website, the Texas Commission on the Arts (TCA) can designate cultural districts in cities across Texas. Cultural districts are special zones that harness the power of cultural resources to stimulate economic development and community revitalization. These districts can become focal points for generating businesses, attracting tourists and artists, stimulating cultural development, preserving historic structures, enhancing proper values and fostering civic pride.

Participants in May’s Art & Wine Walk presented by Plano Magazine// photo Hector Tellez

On Sept. 7, TCA announced at its quarterly meeting in Austin that downtown Plano would become one of seven new cultural districts this year. Texas is home to 35 designated cultural districts in all. The official designation affords downtown Plano the opportunity to apply for special grants and guarantees that the district will continue to grow as an appealing place to live, play and work in Plano.

If you didn’t know it before, you know it now: the Downtown Plano Arts District is officially the home for the arts in Plano.

Texas Commission on the Arts >   Visit Downtown Plano >

Map artwork by Josh Schoemaker.

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