City assesses performing arts facilities

July 28, 2017
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Mayor Walsh and the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) released a draft Performing Arts Facilities Assessment, and are encouraging the public to review and submit feedback on it, according to a press release.

The assessment evaluates the current and anticipated venue challenges of local performing arts organizations in Boston.

“In Boston it’s our goal to harness our City’s innovation and creativity to build a better, healthier, and more thriving City that continues to lift up all our residents,” said Mayor Walsh, according to the press release. “Through this assessment, we have collaborated with residents and stakeholders throughout Boston and the entire region to pinpoint what resources exist, and what resources are needed to support artists. I look forward to continued feedback from our residents as we work to finalize this assessment and determine next steps.”

The assessment was released for feedback on July 12 as part of the Boston Creates strategy, which states that the City of Boston must support the availability, affordability, and sustainability of cultural spaces and facilities for arts and cultural organizations of all sizes in Boston. Its release began a 30-day comment period, so residents have until Aug. 12 to submit feedback on bostonplans.org.

The study was conducted by TDC, a nonprofit management consulting and research firm in partnership with the BPDA and the Mayor’s Office. The areas of focus that guided the study were about assessing the supply and demand of spaces that serve the performing arts in Greater Boston and how well that supply and demand aligns.

After speaking to individuals from across the arts and related fields, researchers concluded that there is excess supply, and there is unmet demand. However, they found that the excess supply and unmet demand do not align due to issues of appropriateness, price, and location of available spaces. Because users cannot pay the full operating or capital costs of facilities, the market requires subsidy to adequately support these facilities.

The assessment provides potential solutions to change the approach to how facilities are financially supported, operated, and managed in Boston. It recommends enhancing partnerships between developers, the City and the local arts community; stimulating new sources of funding in the philanthropic community; developing long-term funding mechanisms; and ensuring that any new spaces are operated effectively by using incentives.

“I think this report and the detailed research that went into it is of great value to the City and the arts community,” said Gary Dunning, president and executive Director of Celebrity Series, according to the press release. “I commend the Mayor’s Office for committing the time and effort to conduct this assessment. Hopefully, it will encourage continued dialogue and eventual actions that will provide more and better facilities for the performing arts, which will strengthen and enhance Boston’s standing as a cultural capital.”

A final report will be issued following the 30-day public comment period.

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