City’s arts and culture plan draft released

After more than a year of planning, the City has released its draft of the Boston Creates with a limited amount of time for community feedback.

Boston Creates is the planning process that Walsh administration launched to enhance and support arts and culture in Boston. The process is organized around a theoretical idea of “creative capital,” which denotes that creativity of residents and creative culture are assets for the community.

The Boston Creates public engagement process opened with an announcement with the Mayor Martin Walsh on April 9, 2015, and a first Town Hall on June 2, 2015. The process included three town hall meetings, 118 community conversations, 35 focus groups, 50 one-on-one meetings, and a survey, according to the draft report. After the final Town Hall on March 28, the City then took three months to digest its research and write a plan. The City released the draft plan in May and gave the community four days in May to read through and give feedback. After complaints that the comment period was too short, the City extended it an additional three days. The existing plan is still a draft, and the final plan will be released on June 17.

At meetings in the past, the most prevalent concerns were for improving Boston Public Schools art classrooms, ensuring affordable housing for artists, and building partnerships across sectors for more cohesive cooperation and support in the arts. Residents at the meetings felt that there was little equity on who was invited and allowed to participate in many arts and cultural events and that young people are not being heard. Residents said that there were barriers to fully appreciating or participating in many arts and cultural events because of systemic inequalities around race, class, geography, and ability.

The 38-page proposal draft includes several goals, of which the City government will play varying roles in the implementation. The plan states that some proposed tactics will be either City-owned, with City government leading and implementing the required actions; City-led, with City government sharing ownership and implementation with partners in arts and culture or other sectors; or City-catalyzed, a process in which the City government would endorse ideas and convene stakeholders.

There are five “core areas” which the plan outlines various goals, according to the draft plan. They are:

  • Create fertile ground for a vibrant and sustainable arts and culture ecosystem.
  • Keep artists in Boston and attract new ones here, recognizing and supporting artists’ essential contribution to creating and maintaining a thriving, healthy, and innovative city.
  • Cultivate a city where all cultural traditions and expressions are respected, promoted, and equitably resourced, and where opportunities to engage with arts and culture are accessible to all.
  • Integrate arts and culture into all aspects of civic life, inspiring all Bostonians to value, engage in, and reap the benefits of creativity in their individual lives and in their communities.
  • Mobilize likely and unlikely partners, collaborating across institutions and sectors, to generate excitement about, and demand and resources for, Boston’s arts and culture sector.

One of the strategies is to facilitate relationships with working artists and art organizations with corresponding venues for funding. The City also aims to generate funding for small to medium sized arts and culture organizations, but specifies that they are not ignoring the values of larger institutions in the city. That mirrors many concerns heard at the meetings in the past.

The City hopes to provide grants to individual artists in Boston, encourage professional development, and increase the supply of affordable artist live/work spaces by developing partnerships with other City agencies. The draft plan does not list how the City would fund those measures.

The proposal can be viewed online at

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