A Letter from the Mayor of Boston

My fellow Bostonians,

Arts and culture have always thrived in our city. They are at the heart of everything that makes us the city we are today—from our storied institutions that attract visitors from all over the world to our neighborhood festivals marked by cultural heritage and pride. Arts and culture are the building blocks of community. They help connect us to one another. They teach, inspire, support, and heal us. That’s why we are committed to elevating arts and culture in the City of Boston.

We claim a number of American cultural firsts: the first public park, public library, public secondary school, public school for African American students, school for visually impaired students, and the oldest performing arts organization in the nation. We are also home to more arts and cultural organizations per capita than any other metropolitan area in the nation. Clearly, arts, culture, and creativity are in our DNA.

arts, culture, and creativity are in our DNA

As impressive as Boston’s cultural history is, however, we know that we can do better. When I was elected mayor in November 2013, as one of my first actions I formed an Arts and Culture Transition Team and charged it with an important question: “How do we make Boston a municipal arts leader?” At a standing-room-only town hall meeting, we heard the passion of Boston’s arts and cultural community. They wanted to see increased support for the arts from City Hall. They asked that we create a sustainable cultural plan, increase performance and work spaces, and embrace the rich diversity of Boston’s population by supporting a range of arts and culture traditions.

So, we got right to work. We created an office within City government focused solely on arts and culture. We increased the amount of money that the Boston Cultural Council is able to grant to arts and culture organizations. We appointed the first cabinet-level Chief of Arts and Culture in decades. But the work hasn’t stopped there.

In April 2015, we officially launched Boston Creates, the first cultural planning process for the City of Boston. We embarked on an open and inclusive process, guided by a 16-member Steering Committee and a 60-member Leadership Council with representatives across sectors. We formed neighborhood-specific community teams to ensure that the resulting plan would reflect the deep diversity of Boston arts and culture. We were thrilled by the level of engagement. More than 5,000 Bostonians came to town hall meetings, filled out surveys, and participated in community conversations, groups, and individual interviews. You have all taught us how we can find better ways to support artists, organizations, and programs.

Now is the time to move from gathering input to creating solutions. We have a vision for how to enrich and strengthen our civic fabric as only the arts can. With the presentation of this plan, we enter a new stage of Boston Creates: making this vision a reality. I want to sincerely thank everyone who has participated in this conversation so far. And I invite all Bostonians, and call on leaders in the cultural and creative sectors, to continue the conversation and work together to achieve the goals of the plan. Together, we can show the world what we mean by Boston Creates.

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Mayor Martin J. Walsh