Marking the One Year Milestone of Boston Creates
Mayor Martin J. Walsh today marked the one-year anniversary of the launch of the Boston Creates Cultural Plan, a ten-year city initiative designed to align public and private resources to strengthen cultural vitality over the long-term and weave arts and culture into the fabric of everyday life.
“One year after launch, we can see the impact of investments and policy changes across the city in both the public and private sectors that are advancing Boston as an arts leader,” said Mayor Walsh. “Looking ahead, we will continue to embrace creativity and collaboration to move the plan forward.”
Since the launch of Boston Creates in 2016, Mayor Walsh has committed to leading the implementation of the plan by building City resources for arts and culture and creating the necessary partnerships to address the critical needs identified through the planning process.
From elevating the arts in the City budget to realigning existing programs, significant accomplishments from year one include:
The Launch of a Percent for Art Program
Designed to fund permanent public art in municipal construction projects, the Percent for Art Program will have a FY18 budget of $1.7 million dollars. The Jamaica Plain Branch of the Boston Public Library was the first project announced under this program, with a call for artists issued in May 2017. This will be followed closely by a call for artists at the Dudley Square Branch Library as part of the building’s upcoming renovation.
Demonstrated Support for Local Artists
Goal 2 of the Boston Creates plan called for keeping artists in Boston, through investments in individual artists, making City government more accessible to artists and by pursuing opportunities for artist housing. To this end, a series of grants for artists were introduced including: the Boston Opportunity Fund, a monthly grant program for individual artists for specific needs; a fellowship program offering individual unrestricted grants to provide artists the resources they need to dedicate their time to their work; and a series of matched savings grants and professional development workshops to artists in Boston. To date, more than $150,000 has been granted to over 80 individual artists. Additionally, in March, the Mayor appointed an Artist Resource Manager to serve as a liaison to local artists.
Addressing Space Issues
Performance and rehearsal spaces continue to be a challenge for artists and arts organizations. In the upcoming weeks, the Boston Planning and Development Agency will release the Performing Arts Facilities Assessment, commissioned in response to the Boston Creates process, detailing the supply and demand for performing arts rehearsal and performance space. In the short term, the City of Boston debuted the Alternative Space Pilot Program, which collaborates with local companies and organizations including AT&T and Mass Eye & Ear to provide free rehearsal space to several organizations.
Expanding Boston AIR
The Boston Artist in Residence Program (AIR) expanded significantly. Today, 10 Boston artists are working in Boston Centers for Youth and Families around the City. As artists in residence, they have been engaging diverse populations in cultural expression and infusing BCYF with new ideas about the role of the arts in their centers and in their neighborhoods.
Looking ahead to the next year of implementation, the City will respond to the performing arts facilities assessment, partner with the Boston Foundation to carry out a cultural equity study, implement the first of three arts innovation districts in Upham’s Corner; and work closely with key partners to think carefully about long term stewardship of the plan, ensuring that implementation can be sustained over the ten year life of of the plan.
“The accomplishments of the first year are a testament to the leadership of Mayor Walsh and the willingness of all departments to collaborate, ensuring arts and culture has a role in City government,” said Julie Burros, Chief of the Mayor’s Office of Arts & Culture. “As we pivot to year two, we know that stewardship over the long term requires that we strategically identify the next priority areas of focus for Boston Creates and reach more fully beyond City government to take on more complex and challenging issues. We know that this work will require ongoing advocates and champions and partnerships for the integration of arts and culture across multiple sectors and communities.
Other key accomplishments include: