Wednesday, September 22, 2021


A Great Opportunity

The June 17 article “Free Clinton Trolley Now Links Westbrook to Hammonasset” references the Clinton Arts District—really! An arts district or cultural district is a demarcated area intended to create a critical mass of places of cultural consumption such as art galleries, studios, cafés, music venues, and specialty shops. Such an area is usually encouraged by public policymaking and planning. To the best of my knowledge, the defined Arts District runs from Post Office Square to Liberty Green.

There are two great art studios; other than that, there’s nothing much to inspire me to walk downtown, jump the trolley to downtown, or walk from the beautiful new train station to realize what’s promoted/advertised as Clinton’s Art District. Well, there is a proposed veterinarian hospital at the center of the Arts District. That certainly will create a critical cultural mass, flooding downtown with tourist and residents, hungry for a cultural experience.

Cultural districts are a central catalyst for revitalization efforts. They have a significant economic impact on towns, tourists, residents, and are a central part of the town. The arts foster community vitality, a desirable quality of life, and destination appeal that’s attractive to residents, businesses, and visitors alike. The current approach doesn’t support this and or align itself with the intent of Clinton Arts Council’s mission that states in part, “The Clinton Arts Council sustains, expands, and promotes the existing and future vibrant, diverse arts and cultural activities in the historic downtown, and throughout the town of Clinton.” It also doesn’t reflect, in my opinion, the theme that resonates and is threaded throughout the Town of Clinton Plan of Conservation and Development 2015-’25.

It’s a great opportunity (funky area) and the right intent, but without enforceable policies, regulations, and an aggressive action plan, the Arts District won’t be realized.

Bob Werner