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Examining The "Specialness" of Cultural Districts

Leigh Nanney Hersey and B. Kathleen Gallagher
PAQ, Vol. 47 No. 2, 180-199 (2023)

Cultural districts are an increasing form of single-purpose government. Rhode Island passed the first statewide legislation outlining the structure for state cultural districts (SCDs) in 1998. Since then, 17 additional states have passed similar legislation leading to more than 343 districts across the United States, with regular announcements of additional designations. Even though these SCDs have been in existence for nearly 25 years, there has been limited research undertaken to explore them as a population. Studies using a public administration framework are even more rare. One area especially deficient is the evaluation of cultural districts, a practice that is common for most public programs. This article opens this conversation in public administration by providing comprehensive descriptive data on cultural districts. It also examines the current reporting methods of cultural districts. From this research, cultural district administrators can improve their reporting and accountability to the public. They can also make better decisions informed by the data they are collecting.

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