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Rhode Island's Tax-Free Arts Districts

The location of Rhode Island's nine arts districts

Arts Districts help to revitalize Rhode Island's cities and towns. Tax incentives encourage artists to live and work within these districts.

Starting in 1998, the Rhode Island General Assembly passed legislation to provide tax incentives for artists to live and work in specific areas, or "districts", in (currently) nine Rhode Island communities. Those communities are Providence, Pawtucket, Westerly, Woonsocket, Tiverton, Little Compton, Newport, Warwick and Warren.

In setting up these districts, the General Assembly declared that “the development of an active artistic community, including ‘artists in residence’, in [these areas] would promote economic development, revitalization, tourism, employment opportunities, and encourage business development by providing alternative commercial enterprises.” [RIGL §44-18-30B(6)]. In short, the legislature was giving each of these communities the tools and incentive to develop a portion of its community by helping artists to live, work and contribute to community life, and for art galleries and exhibition spaces to help contribute to the economy of the state and local community.

Tax incentives: specifically, the legislation provides three different kinds of incentives;

  • for artists who live and work within a specified district, any sale of work created within the district is exempt from state sales tax.
  • for artists who live and work within a specified district, any income they receive from the sale of work they have created within the district is exempt from state personal income tax (as outlined in RIGL 44-30-1.1).
  • and, for gallery spaces located within the boundaries of a specified district, the sale of original, one-of-a-kind works of art are exempt from state sales tax, whether or not they were created within the boundaries of the arts district.
An advisory opinion from the State Arts Council to the Rhode Island State Tax Administrator's Office gives more detailed information on what kind of art is covered by these exemptions.

Each district is in a different stage of development. For more information on the communities in which arts districts exist, click on the links below. For some communities email links have also been provided. For now, if you need specific information on arts districts in general, or communities without specific contact names, click here and send a message to our General Mailbox. We will respond to your questions or forward them to the appropriate people.