Recognizing that arts and culture are deeply important to a city’s economic growth and neighborhood redevelopment, the City of Norfolk established the first arts and culture district in the Hampton Roads region in 2013. The Downtown Arts and Design District, known as the NEON District, was incorporated in a historic commercial corridor in the northern sector Downtown Norfolk. Establishing the Downtown Arts and Cultural District increases awareness and support for arts and culture in the city, which in turn supports arts and cultural venues, increases capital investment and creates jobs, and further promotes Norfolk as the arts and cultural center of the region.
In 2019, Norfolk City Council created an economic incentive program designed to spur creative business and attract arts uses to the neighborhood. Incentives are restricted to qualifying businesses which include for profit or not-for-profit businesses that are physically located within the NEON District. The organization must add to the range of arts and cultural activities and events that are accessible to the public. Eligible categories of business include visual and performing arts, theater, galleries, museums, music venues, art education, culinary arts and graphic arts. For a comprehensive listing, please review the City of Norfolk guidelines.
BPOL Tax Reduction: Qualifying organizations are eligible for a reduction of their business, professional, and occupational license tax. The reduction will be utilized for a period of three calendar years, including the partial calendar year of certification and the following two full calendar years. The percentage of reduction for each year will be 100 percent reduction in year one, two, and three. The qualified arts organization must be re-certified annually.
Permit Fee Exemptions: For a period of up to 120 months from qualifying as a qualified arts organization, the arts organization shall be exempt from any building, electrical, mechanical, plumbing, or site plan application fees while the business is in the process of redevelopment.
Eligible Applicants certified for BPOL and Permit Fee Reductions should apply for incentives prior to applying for a new or renewed business license and new permits.
Applicant must submit the application to Norfolk Development office and a copy to the Downtown Norfolk Council. Please contact the City of Norfolk Economic Development Department at 757-664-4338 or DNC at 757-623-1757 with questions.