Berlin Arts & Entertainment District Re-Certified by State - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Berlin Arts & Entertainment District Re-Certified by State

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Downtown Berlin is shown Wednesday morning, June 3, 2015. (Photo: WBOC) Downtown Berlin is shown Wednesday morning, June 3, 2015. (Photo: WBOC)
 BERLIN, Md.- The Berlin Arts & Entertainment District has been re-certified by the state of Maryland. 

You do not have to look far to find a good piece of art or entertainment in Berlin. The town has a rather large district for it, and thanks to the Maryland State Arts Council, it is going to stay that way.

The state's Arts Council and the Maryland Department of Business and Economic Development approved re-certification Monday, which is big news for the town.

Passion for the arts runs deep in the "Coolest Small Town in America." When the shops are open, it is common to stumble upon a few hidden treasures like artwork, for sale, hanging on the walls of businesses like the Yarn Shop on Main Street. 

Joe Hill of Berlin said the town has a great appreciation for creativity.

"It's great because it gets a lot of people on the street all the time, so you've seen shops develop over the years; they've got more staying power than they used to have," Hill said.

The A &E district stretches from downtown to east Berlin.

Berlin Mayor Gee Williams said health care and hospitality services, which includes arts and entertainment, drives the economy.

Williams said re-certification is great for the town. 

"It [the Arts] has created another segment of our economy that brings visitors to town and helps our local artists to thrive and be financially successful," Williams said. 

Williams said the town is still growing. The town plans to develop underused and vacant properties for artist studio space, affordable housing, performance venues, galleries, and other creative commercial and retail enterprises.

A new gallery, Art in the Fields, will be opening in a couple of weeks, according to Williams, who said it is just one example of vacant properties undergoing new life. 

"We look at art as a part of our life, not apart from it," Williams said. 

Maryland is the first state in the country to develop Arts & Entertainment Districts on a statewide basis, according to town officials. The benefits offered to selected districts include property tax credits for renovation of certain buildings that create work space for artists and/or space for entertainment enterprises. 

Other tax benefits for some business owners and artists include an income tax subtraction modification for income derived from artistic work sold by qualifying artists who live in Berlin. Also, an exemption from the admissions and amusement tax levied by an arts and entertainment enterprise is included. 
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