FRANKFORT, Ky. — First Lady Jane Beshear today announced that the cities of Bardstown and Maysville joined the list of official Kentucky Cultural Districts, bringing the total number of state-certified communities to six.

“Kentucky Cultural Districts are proven cultural destinations for visitors and provide a high quality of life for residents,” Mrs. Beshear said. “Arts and culture in these communities play a vital role in creative and economic development, not only for the cities but for the entire Commonwealth.”

The Kentucky Cultural District Certification Program is an initiative of the Kentucky Arts Council. A cultural district is a well-recognized, labeled, mixed-use area of a community featuring a high concentration of cultural amenities that attract local residents and visitors alike. Cultural districts can be found in any type of community, from small and rural to large and urban.

“On behalf of Historic Downtown Bardstown’s Cultural District Committee, we are honored to be included in this elite group of incredible Kentucky communities,” said Anne Ballard, Bardstown director of downtown development. “We believe this certification will bring more awareness to the arts and help to grow our cultural amenities in Bardstown.”

Last year Bardstown was named the "Most Beautiful Small Town in America" in the Rand McNally and USA Today Best of the Road competition. The city has also been recognized as one of the 100 Best Small Towns in America and one of the 50 Best Small Southern Towns. It is the second-oldest city in Kentucky and is home to Federal Hill, the inspiration for the state song "My Old Kentucky Home." Bardstown is also known for its bourbon industry; an eclectic shopping district; Kentucky’s oldest outdoor drama, “The Stephen Foster Story;” My Old Kentucky Home State Park; vintage trains; and museums dedicated to the Civil War and railroads.

Situated on the banks of the Ohio River in northeastern Kentucky, Maysville has long been a community that placed high value on arts and culture. From its numerous shops and galleries, to its award-winning theaters, historic buildings, and collectible, antique and craft shops, Maysville is a not-to-be-missed cultural destination.

“The City of Maysville is honored to be recognized as a cultural arts district,” said Mike Thomas, chairman of the Maysville Cultural District committee. “This certification represents vitality in promoting and creating economic, creative and cultural opportunities for our residents and guests. By blending resources and creating a well thought-out plan, the district will move us toward a more economically healthy and culturally strengthened environment to live, work and create.”

Kentucky Cultural Districts demonstrate a strong commitment to forming partnerships among arts and cultural entities, businesses and local governments.

“I congratulate and welcome Bardstown and Maysville into the Commonwealth’s collection of cultural districts,” said Lori Meadows, arts council executive director. “We look forward to working with our two newest certified cities to showcase arts and cultural opportunities in their communities and across Kentucky.”

Bardstown and Maysville join Berea, Covington, Danville and Paducah on the list of Kentucky’s certified cultural districts.

For more information about the Kentucky Cultural Districts, visit http://artscouncil.ky.gov/Cultural/CulturalDistrictsAbout.htm.

The Kentucky Arts Council, the state arts agency, creates opportunities for Kentuckians to value, participate in and benefit from the arts. Kentucky Arts Council funding is provided by the Kentucky General Assembly and the National Endowment for the Arts.

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