Aquinnah saw cultural improvements

The Aquinnah Cultural Center District saw improvements to its facilities. — Eunki Seonwoo

The annual report Aquinnah Circle Cultural District Committee submitted to the Massachusetts Cultural Council showed improvements have been implemented in the Aquinnah Circle area during fiscal year 2022 (July 1, 2021, to June 30, 2022), with more to come. 

The report listed a series of accomplishments the committee undertook. The Aquinnah Cliffs area received some facility improvements, such as renovations to the picnic area, betterment of the area overlooking the Cliffs through the Parkland Acquisitions and Renovations for Communities grant, and augmented weatherization at the Edwin DeVries Vanderhoop Homestead, home of the Aquinnah Cultural Center. These improvements helped with the “increased activities and participation at the heart of the Circle,” including the artisans market and a film festival in collaboration with the Yard. According to the report, there were a total of 25,000 in-person attendees who came to the committee’s free events. 

Something that is underway is an “effort to dramatically improve” compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) “throughout the district, including bathrooms and access to all parts of the Circle, including the shops, homestead, overlook, and lighthouse.”

“A committee of town employees and members of the community worked together to create an RFP (request for proposal) and hire a design team, which is now in the final planning stages,” the report reads. “This has included extensive outreach and community input. These improvements will make the Circle accessible and more enjoyable to everyone.”

The report also estimates there have been increases in visitations to the Circle area. 

“While there have been no official measures of evaluation, it is clear that improvements at the Circle have [led] to increased activity and increased participation. Shopkeepers report more foot traffic and increased sales,” the report reads. “People with accessibility issues can now come to the overlook and see the magnificent Gay Head Cliffs. Children can safely play in the picnic area, and visitors can relax with their food and beverage purchases.”

The committee reportedly spent $20,000 in operating expenses for the cultural district, which was the same as the previous fiscal year, and is expected to be the amount used during the next fiscal year.