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    Thursday, February 29, 2024

    'We are New London, and we are on the map'

    New London has long been a community where the arts are a powerful force to help unify a diverse population, showcase a variety of talents, draw visitors into the city and drive the local economy. New London is home to large and well-known arts venues such as the historic Garde Arts Center, and regional musical powerhouses such as the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra. It’s also home to many art galleries, music studios, restaurants, historic and cultural attractions, smaller music venues and many, many artists of all types.

    As the community Wednesday was poised to celebrate the summer solstice with free musical performances for Make Music Day, local and state officials and dozens of city supporters and cheerleaders gathered near the Whale Tail Fountain on Parade Plaza to formally announce a section of downtown New London as the state’s third Cultural District. With the other two cultural district designations in Torrington and Ridgefield, New London also is the first shoreline community with such a state-approved district.

    The designation, which encompasses an area bounded by State, Bank and Howard streets as the cultural district, provides the city with more resources to better market its arts and cultural attractions and promote and encourage artists, entrepreneurs and creative businesses, according to information from the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development. It also provides New London officials with stronger connections to state resources for tourism promotion and economic and community development.

    “We are New London, and we are on the map,” State Rep. Anthony Nolan said about the designation earlier this week. “New London is growing and we’re not going to stop. We’re going to climb higher on the ladder. We’re going to show the rest of the communities in Connecticut how it’s done. People are going to follow us.”

    Fittingly, the cultural district announcement also came at about the same time as the Southeastern Connecticut Cultural Coalition issued a statement that it would provide more than $258,000 in grants to a variety of arts and cultural projects in New London, Norwich and Stonington. In New London, among the grants are those that will allow the New London Community Orchestra to offer free after-school string instrument lessons for city children, provide equipment to support live entertainment at the Oasis Pub and the Social Bar + Kitchen and allow the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra to conduct an outdoor concert.

    We congratulate the city on this well-deserved recognition and praise those who worked diligently through the complex application process to ensure that it happen. The city’s artists and arts and cultural venues have much to be proud of. This designation should allow the city to better promote itself and more firmly cement its rightful place as one of Connecticut’s premiere music, arts, historic and cultural powerhouses.

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