Louisiana’s Cultural Districts Program

Louisiana is one of the few states that has a very clear program on establishing natural cultural districts for creatives. In 2007, the state legislature approved the Louisiana Cultural Districts Program, also referred to as Cultural Products Districts because of the program’s emphasis on tangible products. As is stated on the state’s website, “The primary goal of the Cultural Districts program is revitalizing communities by creating hubs of cultural activity.”

So what is the state offering? Two primary benefits:

1. Local and state sales tax exemptions on the sale of original artworks.
2. Income and corporate tax credits for the rehabilitation of historic buildings
, up to 25% of the costs, which is invaluable given federal historic tax credits up to 20%.

Who gets these benefits? The criteria is based on districts that have proven themselves as cultural districts, based on arts and cultural resources, institutions, businesses, activities and/or production, as well as its promotion, preservation, and education.

The specifics of the program’s goal, or expected results from these benefits include:

Community Development
• Engage residents
• Provide a sense of community
• Serve as a gathering place
• Strengthening community partnerships
• Develop a positive image

Economic Development
• Capitalize on cultural, economic and social assets
• Revitalize a neighborhood or area
• Enhance property values
• Stimulate the economy
• Draw tourists

Artist/Cultural Product Development
• Promote the arts and support artists
• Encourage creativity and cultural activity
• Attract artists and cultural industry workers”

What ‘cultural products’ qualify as tax exempt?

“A work of art is tax exempt if it is sold from an established location within a Cultural
District and it is:
a. Original;
b. One-of-kind, except as further defined in section 2 below;
c. Visual art;
d. Conceived and made by hand of the artist or under his direction; and
e. Not intended for mass production, except for limited editions specified below.

2. Examples of eligible media and products include:
a. Visual arts and crafts, including but not limited to drawing, painting, sculpture, clay,
ceramics, fiber, glass, leather, metal, paper, wood, installation art, light sculpture,
wearable art, or mixed media; and
b. Limited, numbered editions (up to 100) of lithographs, photography, silk screen,
intaglios, etchings, graphic design, and giclees.”

In the next entry, a look at how this program can be expanded to a more intensive economy-generating district.