Downtown cultural district proposed

City leaders are hoping to create an official state-recognized cultural district in the western end of downtown Haverhill. Haverhill has applied for the Massachusetts Cultural Council designation, which would be in effect for five years. A cultural district is a compact, walkable area of a community with a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets. The Massachusetts Cultural Council’s cultural districts program grew out of an economic stimulus bill passed by the Legislature in 2010. It is designed to help communities attract artists and cultural enterprises, encourage business and job growth, expand tourism, preserve and reuse historic buildings, enhance property values, and foster local cultural development. The proposed River City Cultural District would help highlight cultural life in Haverhill, create economic opportunities for cultural organizations and businesses, increase vitality to downtown businesses, and provide cultural opportunities for artists, organizations, and visitors, according to a statement released by Mayor James J. Fiorentini’s office.