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New Cultural Arts District Comes to Downtown

Post Date:01/14/2020

Downtown Hillsboro flagHave you visited Downtown Hillsboro lately? In Downtown you can catch a theater performance by Bag&Baggage Productions, HART Theatre, and Stages Performing Arts Youth Academy. If visual art is what you are looking for, try Sequoia Gallery + Studios, Insomnia Coffee Co., Catherine Bede Gallery, Perks of Art, The Artfull Garden, Colours Art Supply, Crystal Heart Boutique, Clark’s Bistro and Pub, White Birch Design Company, and more.

Want to hear live music? Stop by Primrose &Tumbleweeds, Influence Music Hall, D’Anu Wine Bar, and Pizzario, one which features live music every night of the week. If doing and making is more your style, classes, workshops, and drop-in opportunities can be found Downtown as well. You can sing karaoke at Hillsboro Bar & Grill, pick up an instrument at Mir Music, take culinary classes at the Collective Kitchen, move your body at Lines Dance Studio, or join the Sunset Promenaders Square Dance Club at the Odd Fellows Hall. Sign up to learn a variety of craft and art techniques at the Cotton Cure, Perks of Art, White Birch Design Company, Catherine Bede Gallery, and others. You’ll also find many classes, activities, and events happening throughout the week at the Walters Cultural Arts Center and be able to catch a variety of festivals and events throughout the year at the Tom Hughes Civic Center Plaza. All this arts and culture activity is Downtown amid a variety of restaurants, coffee shops, a bakery, a new Bierhaus, candy stores, small businesses, unique shops, and more!

Community members enjoying an outdoor festivalIn recognition of all of the art and culture activity taking place in Downtown, and as a way to take a deeper look at possible next steps for growth and expansion, in August of 2018, City staff presented general information about cultural arts districts to the City Council, the Hillsboro Arts & Culture Council, and the community. This included the many benefits, types, and structures of cultural arts districts and their potential application in Hillsboro. Information regarding previous revitalization efforts in support of arts and culture activity in Downtown and an overview of current arts and culture activity in Downtown was also included. The Hillsboro Arts & Culture Council, a City Council appointed advisory group of community members, was then asked to look at existing cultural arts districts as models and make a recommendation to City Council about the type of cultural arts district that would best fit and support Downtown’s growth and viability.

In looking to answer this question, the Hillsboro Arts & Culture Council confirmed the City’s long tradition of support for community engagement, arts, culture, and investing in revitalization and a vibrant Downtown. With this in mind, they found within the current Downtown zone (including 10th Avenue to the Shute Park campus) and along with M & M Marketplace (situated on Walnut Street just outside of the designated Downtown zone), there are many existing arts and culture resources in businesses, restaurants, non-profit organizations, and activities, such as festivals and events, that provide a strong foundation for a designated arts and culture district. They noted that the cultural arts district models and types most closely aligned with Hillsboro would be those in established downtowns with walkable areas, primarily arts and entertainment-focused, and with a tourism focus. This type of district would also best serve to support small businesses and a variety of restaurants and specialty shops as well. 

Tuesday Night Market musiciansAdditionally, their research showed that districts succeed when multiple partners are genuinely involved. Hillsboro already has a strong network of partners in place to assist in a cultural arts district endeavor and to take part in its formation and in-going operations including: City of Hillsboro, Hillsboro Downtown Partnership, Hillsboro Chamber of Commerce, Centro Cultural de Washington County, Metro, Washington County, Downtown businesses, Downtown-based arts and culture organizations, our local service organizations, and more.

Does a Cultural Arts District fit Hillsboro? “Yes it does,” said the Hillsboro Arts & Culture Council enthusiastically.

The City Council unanimously agreed. This past September, the Council adopted a resolution designating a Cultural Arts District in Downtown Hillsboro that will include the Downtown core, Shute Park, and M & M Marketplace, while working and evolving to develop arts, culture, and economic development opportunities in the areas surrounding and in between these three areas. This new designation in Hillsboro will convey the identity and unique character of Downtown Hillsboro to the community and beyond, and will act as an economic driver for revitalization; build on the strength of existing arts, business, and entertainment activity to grow new activity; create an awareness and appreciation of the value of arts and culture; and broaden the community emphasis on diversity as a key feature, all while contributing to a vibrant, thriving historic Downtown.

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