Maryland’s A&E Districts Paint Impressive Picture of State Culture and Creativity

November is the time to explore the state’s artistic communities and treasures


Connie Yingling,
Leslie Cox,


BALTIMORE (November 3, 2014) – Take in a live performance of the Maryland Symphony Orchestra. Explore Maryland’s rich arts tradition through festivals and events. Or visit some of the state’s museums and notable public art installations.

For visitors and residents in the state, Maryland’s designated Arts & Entertainment (A&E) Districts offer opportunities to experience the state’s unique culture and creativity year-round. Administered by the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development (DBED) through the Maryland State Arts Council, the program provides local and county governments with assorted tax benefits designed to boost economic development and create a cultural district filled with artists and arts enterprises. Maryland was one of the first states to develop a statewide A&E program, and today 22 A&E Districts have been established since the program began in 2001.

“Arts and Entertainment Districts offer 22 convenient hubs of culture and creativity, where arts celebrations take place in scenic settings across the state,” said Margot A. Amelia, executive director, Maryland Office of Tourism. “In these districts, expect to be entertained by exceptional theater, arts, music, dining and shopping.”

This month, visit the A&E districts and don’t miss these events and happenings in each:

Western Maryland

Downtown Hagerstown boasts impressive historic architecture, urban infrastructure, cultural incentives, and places to create, live, and learn. Visit the Art Deco Maryland Theatre, an elegant venue which opened in 1915 and will celebrate its 100th anniversary next spring. Hear the Maryland Symphony Orchestra play the classics there on Nov. 8-9. For fans of classic art, the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts was established in 1931 and since has been recognized as one of the finest small museums in the U.S. Located just outside of the A&E district, it features more than 7,000 works of art along with interpretive lectures, concerts, films, art instruction, and other programs.

The Cumberland Art and Entertainment District is nestled in the mountains along the banks of the Potomac River. Here, visitors will find the Saville Gallery, which exhibits works from local, regional and national artists. Exhibits change every three to four weeks, and feature solo or group exhibitions by a range of visual artists, along with annual events such as the Tri-State Photography Exhibition and Mountain Maryland Plein Air.

Just north west of Cumberland, don’t miss Frostburg’s charming Main Street, home to the Frostburg Center for Creative Writing. Supported by both the town and Frostburg State University, the Center offers a comfortable place for writers to do their work with coffee, Wi-Fi access, writing reference books, and contemporary literary journals to browse. The District also includes the Frostburg Museum and Museum Gallery, the Thrasher Carriage Museum, the Frostburg State University Performing Arts Center, Dante’s, the General Art Store and Star Gallery, the Frostburg State University Roper Gallery and the historic Palace Theatre, which opened in 1907 and is now a community auditorium.

Capital Region

Downtown Frederick is a booming arts destination, featuring public art, galleries, and performing arts venues. The Weinberg Center for the Arts offers multiple performances this month, ranging from singing star Parker Millsap on Nov. 6 to the Golden Dragon Acrobats on Nov. 22. Take the kids to meet the beloved first-grader Junie B. Jones at the Maryland Ensemble Theatre for “Jingle Bells, Batman Smells,” from Nov. 29-Dec. 28.

Close to Washington, D.C. are three Maryland A&E Districts from which to choose. Stroll through downtown Bethesda’s galleries to see local and national artwork, including painting, photography, sculpture and mixed media. Experience a live music concert at the Fillmore or catch a classic film at the historic American Film Institute (AFI) Silver Theatre in Silver Spring. Then support youth in the arts in Wheaton to see public displays of art—from park benches to large-scale murals—created by kids in the Arts on the Block program.

The Gateway Arts District represents a mixture of area businesses, organizations, sponsors, and resident artists, and is comprised of the four municipalities of Hyattsville, North Brentwood, Brentwood, and Mount Rainier along Route One. Beginning Nov. 8, the Brentwood Arts Exchange at Gateway Arts Center is the home of the Annual Prince George’s County Juried Exhibition with the Prince George’s Sampler, an exploration of the diversity and richness within the county’s art community.

Central Maryland

Downtown Annapolis is a hub for nightlife, music and art, and as a designated A&E District, also provides opportunity and growth for its community of artists and businesses. The Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts is dedicated to showcasing the performing and visual arts, hosting arts education classes and working with other resident companies to ensure artists are featured. The venue hosts regular performances and exhibits including “Drawing and Painting the Life at Maryland Hall” through Dec. 17. Another venue is the Compass Rose Theater.

Drop by for Final Friday at the Station North Arts & Entertainment District in Baltimore, where more than 15 theatres and venues are transformed into spectacular environments filled with musicians, performance artists, art installation and food. This neighborhood also hosts the popular Artscape each summer.

The Bromo Tower Arts & Entertainment District in downtown Baltimore includes the Everyman and Hippodrome Theatres and the iconic Bromo Seltzer clock tower. Tours of the state-of-the-art studio space are offered on Fridays and Saturdays.

Just north of Baltimore, visitors will find the Bel Air A&E District, which covers 99-acres and most of downtown Bel Air. Here, the arts come alive at Bel Air High School, Rockfield Manor, Shamrock Park, John Carroll High School and the Bel Air Reckford Armory. In November, don’t miss the live musical and historical masterpiece Lincoln’s Life & Legacy on Nov. 8 and the Cultural Literacy Fair on Nov. 23.

Havre de Grace is located at the junction of the Susquehanna River and Chesapeake Bay, and has been an inspiration to artists for centuries. Decoy carvers replicate nature, water colorists capture the evening skies over the water and writers find inspiration in the views.

Encompassing Highlandtown, Patterson Park and portions of Canton and Greektown in Baltimore, Highlandtown's Arts & Entertainment District (a.k.a. ha!) is the largest such designated area in the state. The district is now home of the Creative Alliance at The Patterson, galleries, artist studios, and retail shops with a variety of activities happening year around including the Annual Studio Tours, Sculpture in the Park, and much more.

Southern Maryland

The first A&E district to be designated in Southern Maryland, Historic Leonardtown in St. Mary’s County was added to the list in 2013. The town is home to several A&E District attractions including Crazy for Ewe, which carries beautiful, colorful yarns and stylish patterns, as well as the Leonardtown Arts Center, Fenwick Street Used Books and Music, the Opal Art Gallery, Wine and Design and Yellow Door Art Studios.

Eastern Shore

Art is a community affair in historic Stevensville and Kent Island. Every first Saturday the Kent Island Federation of Art (KIFA) holds an open house so visitors can meet the local artists and learn more about the creative process. Kent Island Art showcases the work of a dozen artists under one roof and offers a selection of instructional classes.

Wind your way through Salisbury’s Main Street, which highlights much of the A&E District’s art institutes, galleries and cultural centers. The town also features several locations to enjoy the culinary arts including Brew River Restaurant, Cake Art and Cellar Door Tavern.

Denton’s A&E District showcases the 18th-century town, which is nestled on the banks of the Choptank River. Anchoring Fourth Street is The Fiber Arts Center of the Eastern Shore (FACES) which has quickly become a destination for area quilt and fiber art enthusiasts to view historic and recent works by artists from Maryland’s Eastern Shore and Delmarva Peninsula. Their 2nd Annual Holiday Bazaar selling handmade fiber crafts begins Nov. 20.

Labeled “The Gateway to the Bay,” Elkton’s Arts & Entertainment District hosts a First Fridays event Nov. 7 with open mics, studio tours, gallery openings and special sales. On Nov. 21, clap along to the Appalachian Dance and Music Showcase.

Find Main Street Gallery at its new home on Poplar Street in Cambridge’s A&E District. Its November exhibit “Line/Color/Shape” focuses on local artist Maureen Farrell and her two friends Kellee Wynne Conrad and Elaine Weiner-Reed, and will feature paintings from each of these artists.

Named Arts on the River because of its proximity to the scenic Pocomoke River, Snow Hill's A&E District encompasses 86 acres and features art galleries, museums and parks, and performing arts venues, along with residential neighborhoods with housing opportunities for artists to live and work.

Check out Berlin, voted the “Coolest Small Town in America” by Budget Travel magazine. Visit the talented young artist Jeffrey Auxer in his glassblowing studio, which showcases his own work and also hosts classes for budding artists. Anchored in the arts, Berlin also hosts Second Friday Art Strolls, features Holiday Arts Night on Nov. 28, when visitors stroll the streets, meet artists, and enjoy live entertainment before the town’s tree lighting ceremony.


About Maryland Tourism
The Maryland Office of Tourism is an agency of the Division of Tourism, Film and the Arts within the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development. Visitors to the state spent more than $14.9 billion on travel-related expenses in 2012. During 2012, the Maryland tourism industry also generated $2 billion in state and local taxes, and provided more than 135,000 jobs for Maryland residents.