Sherman’s culture and arts were recognized Friday when the Texas Commission on the Arts officially proclaimed portions of downtown as a cultural district. This puts Sherman alongside only 40 other cities across the state, including Denison and McKinney, who have received the designation.
The effort to have Sherman recognized for its cultural contributions included partnered efforts by city leadership, community members and representatives, as well as other partner organizations, including Austin College.
“This is such an exciting day for Sherman,” Mayor David Plyler said. “To be recognized by the state of Texas for our city’s long standing reputation as a hub really confirms what so many of us already know in our hearts: that Sherman largely remains true to its roots as the Athens of Texas.”
Plyler said the district encompasses much of the city’s central business district and downtown, with the Grayson County Courthouse falling near the center of the district. Some of the amenities that contribute to the district include Kidd-Key Auditorium and Finley Playhouse.
“Right here is where I would call the center,” Plyler said, referring to Kidd-Key. “We are a few blocks from the library, we are a few blocks from the Sherman Museum. It all starts here.”
In addition to Plyler, Friday’s event included speeches by Judge Larry Phillips, Austin College President Steven O’Day and former Sherman Mayor Cary Wacker, who worked both in her capacity as mayor and through Austin College to help achieve the recognition for the city.
Officials said the process took about 18 months, but the initiative dates back to the 2009 comprehensive plan’s efforts to advocate for the arts. These efforts included a video application that highlighted the city’s cultural amenities and contributions.
The proclamation designating the district was presented by Gary Gibbs, executive director of the Texas Commission on the Arts. Gibbs said the effort to receive the designation often requires extensive work from throughout the community and many cities make several attempts over the course of years before they are included.
In order to be considered, Gibbs said the community must make and present a plan for how it will use the designation to improve and support the arts in the community. Wacker said the designation also includes a 10-year commitment to maintaining and expanding arts amenities in the community.
“The official district designation is the culmination of hours and hours of work by many people,” Gibbs said.
Tourism/Main Street Manager Sarah McRae said the designation is a boon for the city’s tourism efforts, as some tourists making it a point to visit all of the state’s cultural districts. Prior to Friday’s official designation, McRae said she had already received emails from potential tourists who expressed interest in the city.
“There are a lot of different types of tourists, and we are hoping a lot of them can find something in Sherman and make a weekend of it,” she said.
With two other nearby districts in Denison and McKinney, McRae said she hopes the cities can work together to benefit all local tourism efforts.
Along with the proclamation, organizers for the effort unveiled the official logo and banner for the district, which includes architectural motifs from Kidd-Key Auditorium. Representatives for the city and cultural partners also wore buttons bearing the logo during Friday’s presentation.