Cultural Districts

Cultural District Overview

The Louisiana Cultural District Program is administered by the Louisiana Department of Culture,
Recreation, and Tourism, and was created by the Louisiana Legislature in 2007 and launched in 2008. The
Program provides incentives in designated cultural districts that contribute to increased business
opportunities; new markets for cultural products; increased artist production; renovations of older
buildings; increased cultural activity; and a greater sense of community identity.

The Cultural District Program:

    • Allows a local government to designate a cultural district for the purpose of revitalizing acommunity by creating a hub of cultural activity.
    • Allows state historic tax credits for eligible expenses for qualifying structures in a cultural district.
    • Requires local governments who designate such districts to report on the impact to their community annually.
    • Requires the Louisiana Department of Culture, Recreation and Tourism to collate reports receivedand submit a single report biannually to the legislature.

Current State for Lafayette Parish

Currently Lafayette Parish has four Cultural Districts: Downtown Lafayette, McComb-Veazey, Downtown
Scott, and Downtown Carencro.

Under LCG jurisdiction, the Downtown Lafayette Cultural District, established in 2009, was the only
cultural district in the state not offering a local sales tax exemption on original art. The McComb-Veazey
Cultural District, a new cultural district established in 2018, became the second in the state not to offer
the exemption. LCG has been advised by the state that in order to continue the Cultural District
Program in our established districts and apply for new cultural districts, LCG needs to authorize
a local sales tax exemption on original art. The Cultural District Program does not allow for local
governments or vendors to opt-out of the local tax exemption to participate in the program and receive
the benefits of a participating cultural district. In order to continue participation in the state program,
existing and future cultural districts will need to be in compliance, as outlined in the ordinance before
Council.

Any additional cultural district applications will require council approval to participate in the exemption.
As such, the Administration is putting forward three additional cultural districts by way of resolution for
the University Gateway, Oil Center, and Greater Freetown Cultural Districts.

State Historic Tax Credits

State Historic Tax Credits are an important component of the Cultural District Program intended to spark
renovations and reuse of historic buildings for revitalizing communities and providing facilities for cultural
activities.
The only way historic buildings can access the 20% State Historic Tax Credit is if they are
income-producing buildings 50 years or older that are contributing elements to certified
Cultural Districts. If they meet this criteria and adhere to the rehabilitation standards set forth by the

Cultural Districts Informational Overview

State Historic Preservation Office, then 20% of their eligible rehabilitation expenses can be submitted for
a transferrable State Historic Tax Credit.

These three proposed cultural districts, University Gateway, Oil Center, and Greater Freetown, are based
on larger planning efforts for these areas in an effort to further open up State Historic Tax Incentives for
income-producing historic properties within these cultural district boundaries.

The following is the breakdown of historic income-producing properties within the five Cultural Districts:

Downtown Cultural District: 541 total historic income-producing properties (includes 319 historic
commercial properties and 222 single-family historic residential rental properties).

McComb-Veazey Cultural District: 1,085 total historic income-producing properties (includes 221
historic commercial properties and 864 single-family historic residential rental properties).

Proposed University Gateway Cultural District: 254 total historic income-producing properties (includes
35 historic commercial properties and 219 single-family historic residential rental properties).

Cultural Districts Informational Overview

Proposed Oil Center Cultural District: 177 total historic income-producing properties (includes 117
historic commercial properties and 60 single-family historic residential rental properties).

Proposed Greater Freetown Cultural District: 619 total historic income-producing properties (includes
258 historic commercial properties and 361 single-family historic residential rental properties).

If council approves the ordinance and associated resolutions, approximately 950 historic
commercial properties would be eligible to access the 20% State Historic Tax Credit. In
addition, 1,726 historic residential rental properties would be eligible to access those State
Historic Tax Credits as well. In total, approximately 2,676 properties would now have access
to State Historic Tax Credits that without the Cultural District they would not be able to access.

Financial Implications of State Historic Tax Credits

As it relates to the State Historic Tax Credits, without this ordinance 950 historic commercial properties
would not be able to access a 20% State Historic Tax Credit which can be a critical component to
rehabilitating and revitalizing historic buildings in these areas. If one-quarter of the 950 properties
owners put just $50,000 of eligible expenses into rehabilitating these historic buildings this would
equate to approximately $11.8 million in total project costs and owners would get back over $2.3
million in historic tax credits that could be put back into their businesses and our economy. Please note
these numbers do not count the potential 1,726 residential income-producing properties that could do
the same.

Tax Exemption for Original Art

The Cultural District Program requires that local sales taxes on qualifying original art be exempted within
a designated cultural district. All sellers of original art must register with the state and the local tax
administrator before conducting sales.

Original Art is defined as: Original, one-of-kind, visual art; conceived and made by hand of the artist or
under his/her direction; and not intended for mass production, except for limited editions specified below.
An item must meet all aspects of the definition to qualify.

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

Examples of INELIGIBLE media and products include: Performing art; Food products; Live plants, such as
bonsai trees, floral arrangements, wreaths, and garlands; Music recordings; and Reproductions of original
works of art, including digital prints or giclees.

Financial Implications of Tax Exemption for Original Art

With regard to the tax exemption on Original Art, the total taxable arts sales in 2017 for the State was
$6.5 Million. The total cost to the state on the state’s 2% exemption was $300,000 in 2016 for all of the
cultural districts in the state (about 60) so the average impact on state sales tax collection was just south
of $5,000.

Cultural Districts Informational Overview

Currently the state is not granting the 2% exemption on original art but is still requiring local sales tax
exemptions to qualify for the program, to which the state will allow for 20% State Historic Tax Credits on
eligible income-producing historic properties within designated Cultural Districts.

To reach $4,000 in exempted local sales tax, a cultural district would have to sell $100,000 of original
artwork in a year. Both the School Board and the Sheriff’s Office have agreed to exempt their portions of
the affected taxes if the council approves this ordinance.

​CURRENT CULTURAL DISTRICTS IN LAFAYETTE PARISH 

Downtown Lafayette Cultural District

Map | Asset List | District Leads

 

McComb-Veazey Cultural District

Map | Asset List | District Leads

 

Greater Freetown Cultural District

Map | Asset List | District Leads

 

Oil Center Cultural District

Map | Asset List | District Leads

 

University Gateway Cultural District

Map ​| Asset List | District Leads