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Arts and Cultural Districts

Arts and Cultural Districts toolbox

Program Development

New Mexico’s Arts and Cultural District (ACD) Program was adopted in 2007 by the State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Bill Richardson. The program is an inter-agency collaboration between the Economic Development Department, the Department of Cultural Affairs and the Tourism Department. It is directed toward place-based economic development focusing on the unique cultural and arts assets of each authorized district.

The state statute established the New Mexico MainStreet Director as the Coordinator of the ACD Program and established the New Mexico Arts Commission, staffed by the Executive Director of the New Mexico Arts Division of the Department of Cultural Affairs, as the “authorizing” body for each proposed district.

A State Council made up of representatives from the following agencies and organizations works with the ACD Coordinator to set policy and develop resources and technical assistance:

  • New Mexico MainStreet Program, Economic Development Department
  • New Mexico Arts, Cultural Affairs Department
  • New Mexico Tourism Department
  • New Mexico Historic Preservation Division, Department of Cultural Affairs
  • McCune Charitable Foundation
  • Museum Foundation of New Mexico
  • Friends of New Mexico MainStreet, Inc.


The state statute currently provides the following incentives to help investors and local municipalities conserve, grow and revitalize their ACD’s economy.

  • A doubling of state historic district tax credits for eligible properties within the ACD;
  • Access to municipal gross receipts taxes set aside for economic development projects through the state’s Local Economic Development Act (LEDA);
  • An ACD infrastructure fund for capital outlay and grant funds for infrastructure;
  • Technical Assistance and Services from cooperating partners in the state ACD Council;
  • Participation in the Cultural and Heritage Tourism marketing program.

Arts and Cultural District Flowchart of Services and Benefits

Local Requirements

For a community to be considered for authorization as a state ACD, they must make an application to the ACD coordinator for consideration by the New Mexico Arts Commission.  New rounds of application occur about once every two years.  New Mexico’s ACD Program was created to leverage and partner existing local community economic development organizations with arts and cultural organizations; combining existing assets, skills, finances, services and resources. The program does not intend to develop another local non-profit competing in a fairly limited financial arena of support and limited human resources.

In many cases the local ACD Steering Committee is a standing committee of the local MainStreet project. Where a local MainStreet organization does not exist, it is recommended that the ACD Steering Committee be a standing committee of the local arts organization.

Requirements for application include:

  • A proposed walkable district that include historic assets, arts galleries, cultural institutions, cultural amenities, cultural and arts events;
  • Appropriate lodging and restaurants for cultural and heritage tourists;
  • Arts and cultural enterprises and institutions open on the weekends;
  • An ACD Steering Committee composed of official representatives from:

    • A local MainStreet Program or a Community Economic Development Organization,
    • A local or regional Arts Council, and
    • The municipality.
    • Historic Society, Museum, Performing Arts and/or Cultural Center
    • University or College,
    • Theatre, and
    • Other arts or cultural organizations or agencies.

For more information about the ACD Program, please visit the Economic Development Department’s website:

Additional information about the ACD Program, can be found at the New Mexico Arts and Cultural Districts website:

Download a tourism card on our ACD Communities: Get Cultured

More Information and Questions

Rich Williams, Please direct all inquiries to the ACD Coordinator.

Rich Williams, State Coordinator
New Mexico Arts and Cultural Districts

Contact New Mexico MainStreet

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MainStreet Program:

Joseph M. Montoya Building
1100 St. Francis Drive
Santa Fe, NM 87505