The State Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD) and the Connecticut Office of the Arts (COA) recently approved an application establishing a Cultural District in the Town of Ridgefield, making it the first municipality in the state to receive the prestigious designation. Former state representative John Frey proposed the initial law to allow designation of cultural districts in October 2019.
In a release by the DECD/COA, DECD Director of Arts, Preservation and Museums Liz Shapiro said, “This program recognizes the essential role that local arts and cultural resources play in the building healthy communities over the long-term. I applaud Ridgefield for taking the initiative to establish the district and ensuring that arts and culture are at the heart of their planning efforts moving forward.”
"The people of Ridgefield have long appreciated the abundance of arts and culture in our town. We are thrilled that the state also recognizes all that Ridgefield has to offer, by giving us the first Cultural District designation," noted long-serving Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi.
Cultural Districts are walkable areas of a city or town that feature numerous cultural facilities, activities and/or assets. These vibrant areas draw visitors from other towns and states and serve as a hub for residents to congregate and interact.
“Ridgefield’s diverse arts and cultural offerings are fitting and ideal for a Cultural District designation,” said Lisa Scails, Executive Director of the Cultural Alliance of Western Connecticut. “We’re proud of their leadership and for being a model for other municipalities.”
The Cultural District area holds numerous cultural assets including ACT (A Connecticut Theater), the Ridgefield Theater Barn, the Ridgefield Guild of Artists, the Ridgefield Playhouse, the Ridgefield Historical Society, the Ridgefield Library, the Prospector Theater, Ballard Park with its CHIRP summer concert performances, the Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance, RPAC art gallery, Thrown Stone theater group, Lounsbury House, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center.
News of receiving the Cultural District designation was especially uplifting to the town after weathering the social and economic effects from the 2020/2021 pandemic. The Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce is hosting "Ridgefield Moves Forward" on June 10th featuring First Selectman Rudy’ Marconi’s State-of-the-Town Address and recognize businesses and individuals for their contributions to the community during the past year. The event will take place on the grounds of the beautiful Lounsbury House, beginning at 4pm. In addition to music provided by the Ridgefield Symphony Orchestra, there will be a variety of local eateries showcasing their cuisine including Tequila Escape, Stacey's Totally Baked, 850 Degrees, The Cake Box, Tablao Wine Bar & Restaurant, Barn Door Restaurant and more. “We want this event to be a true community celebration” said Director Grossman. "The Chamber appreciates the support of our co-sponsors Addessi Jewelers, Wooster Hollow Café, Fairfield County Bank and Oak Ridge Waste & Recycling."
The Chamber will recognize the following:
Dick Aarons - Citizen Emergency Response Team (CERT)
“I’ve said it before and will say it again- there are simply too many amazing organizations and people in town to award in one afternoon,” Executive Director Sarah Grossman said. “Our initial list went on for several pages! In the end we selected those who best represented their fields.” While everyone is invited by the Chamber, tickets are required and limited. Those interested in joining the event can purchase them at DestinationRidgefield.org.
The Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce is a 501(c)6 organization established in 1966. The Chamber is an advocate and resource for business and nonprofits by advancing and promoting the economic vitality and quality of life in Ridgefield.