The town of Barnstable recognizes arts and culture as key economic drivers that contribute to the vibrancy of the area and provide an important backdrop and enriching experiences year round for residents and visitors.  Each of the seven villages features art, culture and historic gems, all with seaside charm.  Two of the villages, Hyannis and Barnstable Village have state designated cultural districts.   The Hyannis HyArts Cultural District, the first state designated cultural district on Cape Cod and Barnstable Village  focus the town and community partners on the common goals to attract artists, cultural and creative enterprises; encourage business and job retention and creation; further establish the district as a tourist destination; preserve and reuse historic buildings; enhance property values;  and foster local cultural development. 

The Hyannis HyArts Cultural District in downtown Hyannis is home to local artists with seaside shanties, year round artist studios and galleries, free events all year including theater and musical performances alongside Hyannis Harbor, art walks, open studios, art festivals and much more.  These initiatives are key components to the success of the revitalization of downtown Hyannis and have stimulated collateral private development on Pearl and North Streets.  It has become a live/work/play area for residents and a true destination for visitors.

The success of the HyArts District is rooted in a series of arts related strategies which enlivened  the economic climate in downtown Hyannis by investing time and resources into underutilized areas, establishing an economic cluster as an important backdrop for year round residents and visitors.

The Town and several local and regional organizations, including the Hyannis Main Street Business Improvement District (BID), the Hyannis Area Chamber of Commerce (HACC), the Cape Cod Art Association (CCAA) and the Arts Foundation of Cape Cod (AFCC) and in consultation with the Cape Cod Chamber, continue to work cooperatively to provide resources to the arts community while fostering economic growth and establishing Hyannis as a regional center for creative and performing arts.

In 2005, seven artist shanties were constructed on the harbor front. These shanties offer local artists an affordable location to create and sell their work. The artists receive marketing support from the Harbor Your Arts program.

The rehabilitation of an underutilized grassy area into an outdoor performing arts center was completed in 2006 and includes an award winning public art installation named, “Buoyed Coasts”. The area now provides a venue for ongoing entertainment along the harbor and affords tremendous exposure for local musicians and actors. Bordering the performing arts venue on Pleasant Street is a town-owned and maintained park. Pleasant Street Park provides easy access to the state run ferries and has helped to increase foot traffic by extending the Walkway to the Sea from the harbor front to Main Street.  Over two million people use the Walkway each year drawing thousands of travelers from the ferries to the shops and restaurants along Main Street.

In 2007, two homes were purchased on Pearl Street, which is adjacent to Main Street, and renovated by the Town into artist live/work and shared studio/gallery space.   These properties encompass the backbone of the downtown arts district, which also consist of private enterprises such as a gelato shop and local charter high school.

On the same arts campus as the Pearl Street properties is the Guyer Barn, a showcase for emerging and established artists.  It is a year round community art space, working artist studio and professional artist gallery supporting and promoting the arts through exhibits, education and performances

In May of 2012, the HyAnnis HyArts Cultural District received its official state designation from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.  It is the first cultural district designated on Cape Cod and was, at the time, the seventh in the state to be named.  The concentration of cultural, economic and historic resources coupled with a strong community commitment to further enhance the vitality of the area, met all criteria for the state designation.   The District includes Main Street Hyannis and the harbor front area.   The website and facebook page  promote the district.

A strong creative economy provides the opportunity to capitalize upon regional dollars with an area unified and transformed into a distinct arts destination. This cultural district continues to increase the value of the arts in the community through the cultivation of diverse new audiences and keeps consumers coming back throughout the year.  District branding and cultural activities such as historic walking and art gallery tours, artist shanties and work studios, classes, workshops and exhibits serve to attract visitors to the area.   Future plans also include the creation of a multi-use cultural center  which will become the backbone of the arts district and will complement and enhance arts and culture initiatives in downtown Hyannis.

In March of 2014, the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) Board of Directors voted unanimously to designate Barnstable Village as a Cultural District.  It is the second district within the town of Barnstable, (only the second town in the state to have two districts) .  It was the fourth on Cape Cod  and the 20th in the state to be designated.    This designation helps to  enhance and grow the already successful arts and culture programs and events in Barnstable Village as well as in collaboration with the Hyannis HyArts Cultural District.

The Town of Barnstable has a long-established commitment to making arts and culture an important facet of the town’s economic development strategy as the Arts are often undervalued for the contribution they play in a stable, well educated, vibrant community.  The benefits of state designation are numerous.  In addition to state wide and national marketing opportunities, the Hyannis HyArts Cultural District and the Barnstable Village Cultural District work with the MCC and community partners to further develop current arts related economic development strategies, including encouraging business, job growth and expanding tourism.  

Be sure to check out the arts and cultural happenings in all seven villages.

Be sure to check out the arts and cultural happenings in all seven villages.