Serrano Participates in Round Table on Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts

José M. Serrano

May 08, 2009

May 8, 2009

Senator Jose M. Serrano participated today in a roundtable discussion
on how best to support New York City’s “naturally occurring” cultural
districts on Friday, May 8. The roundtable was hosted by Brooklyn’s
Pratt Center for Community Development and the Fourth Arts Block, the
leadership organization for Manhattan’s East 4th Street Cultural

The event featured a diverse group of New York City’s creative
practitioners, policymakers, funders and scholars this afternoon to
discuss the challenges facing cultural districts that have emerged
throughout the city over the last several years. Brought to life by
local artists, grassroots community groups, and local “creative”
businesses, these cultural districts can be found from North Brooklyn
to the South Bronx. They are homegrown, come in all shapes and sizes,
and are now being recognized as a force for economic and civic

Senator Serrano shared his experiences working with local artists.
“Our experience on the ground is that nourishing cultural districts is
a worthy investment. My district includes the South Bronx, which has a
tremendous history in both the visual and performing arts, and is also
home to a significant concentration of artisans, manufacturers and
other creative businesses. As an elected official, I helped to support
the creation of the South Bronx Cultural Corridor because we saw the
potential of targeting this unique cluster of artists and businesses
for marketing and business development assistance.”

The Senator and other roundtable participants discussed the
significant economic impact created by local cultural districts.
Recent studies have shown that local arts activity generates tourist
and customer traffic, and the subsequent need for suppliers and other
ancillary businesses. This creates jobs and tax revenue. Roundtable
participants also examined the challenge of gentrification and
displacement in neighborhoods where arts-related activity has helped
to raise property values. Senator Serrano said, “The challenge for us
here in New York City is to foster growth in the creative sector
without displacing the residents who helped to generate it in the
first place.”

“Going forward, my office will continue to support a variety of
efforts to promote the creative sector here in New York and our local
cultural districts. There is no doubt that arts-related activity will
be an important part of the state’s economic recovery. I think the
challenge will be to support arts activity that doesn’t lead to
displacement or greater economic disparity. Assisting in the effort to
create affordable space, and helping to strengthen networks between
artists, other creative businesses, and local communities is part of
our strategy.”