Texas Arts Commission announces Canadian’s approval as cultural district

THURSDAY, SEPT. 6, 2018—Canadian has distinguished itself in many ways during its history, but now has the distinction of being the northernmost, smallest, and most rural cultural district in Texas.

During a meeting held today in Austin, the Texas Commission on the Arts announced Canadian’s successful bid for designation as a cultural district. Currently, there are 36 cultural districts throughout the state.

In all, four applications out of eight were recommended for designation: the Canadian Cultural District, the Historic Downtown McKinney Cultural District, the Old Spanish Trail Cultural Corridor in San Antonio, and the Sherman Cultural District.

In her letter of support for Canadian’s application, Beth Duke, Executive Director at Center City of Amarillo Inc., wrote, “Canadian is a Panhandle jewel. Because of its remote location in the state of Texas, the citizens of Canadian have shown the pioneer spirit in creating their own traditional and cultural assets. Canadian’s sophistication in the art community is an unheralded treasure and a happy surprise to find in a city with a small population.”

The application was developed by members of the Cultural Arts and Recreations Enhancement (CARE) Commission, headed by Wendie Cook and Kim McKinney, with contributions from Mistie Walser, Doug Ricketts, and Jonathan Frederick. Canadian’s score was 938 out of 1,000. Work toward the application began more than a year ago.

“On behalf of Canadian’s Cultural District application committee, we say a collective ‘Hooray!’ for this state designation success,” said CARE Commission chair Wendie Cook. “Our committee has worked very hard over the last 18 months to achieve cultural recognition for our city, a first for our community. Along with statewide marketing, this distinction earns Canadian a seat at the table for additional grants and programs unavailable without this designation. That will most certainly enhance our existing arts, cultural and western heritage assets, and will help increase tourism dollars and the economic benefit that quality-of-life programs bring to our community.

“I am so grateful for the incredibly positive comments of our city from both the application evaluators and from the Texas Arts Commissioners. We are proud to be the northernmost, smallest, and most rural district ever recognized. The Texas Arts Commissioners just gave Canadian a state-sized megaphone. Our committee is ready to shout into it.”

The designation was one of 10 goals of the Comprehensive Plan adopted by the city of Canadian in November 2016. The evaluators were impressed that the Canadian-Hemphill County Economic Development Corporation supported the development of the cultural district, and remain committed to the success of the effort. Other support came from local arts organizations and local artisans, as well as regional entities, including the Amarillo Area Foundation, the Texas Plains Trail, and Center City, Amarillo.

The consultants who worked on Canadian’s application were Ellen Cowell of Roanoke, Virginia, formerly of Amarillo, and Cassidy Barton of Bryan, who have consulted on five successful designations, including Amarillo’s in 2016.

In the application, Canadian listed 39 artisans who live and/or sell in the district boundaries. The Core Assets map includes 58 designated points, identifying area museums, recreation areas, venues, historic homes and architecture, historic churches, fine arts and cultural studios, and public art.

According to the TCA website, 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, stimulating cultural development and fostering civic pride.

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