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1). Addressing Citywide Issues
Just as any other major city, Boston faces many economic and social issues. Can you provide examples on how you would integrate the arts, culture, and creative community in solving social problems? How would you use our community to drive economic development in the city?
Arts and culture are vital indicators of a city’s overall health, education and prosperity and at both Codman Square Health Center and Codman Academy Charter Public School, I expanded access to the arts for artists and residents of underserved communities. This includes many initiatives that have brought people together around critical social issues and in celebration of Boston’s rich diversity and historical assets; such as the Peace Tile Project, Boston Arts Millennium, Childhoods Interrupted by War, the Dorchester Artist Spirit and the Boston Landmarks Orchestra, among others.
Codman Academy Charter Public School, which I co-founded, won the state’s highest award in arts and culture from the Massachusetts Cultural Council for our pioneering, in-depth partnership with the Huntington Theatre Company, where the theatre has become an “expeditionary learning” extension of our campus. When violence against youth spiked eight years ago, the partnership created the annual summer Shakespeare production, which continues to this day. This Thursday and Friday our students will perform on the Calderwood stage at the Boston Center for the Arts through the Huntington Theatre program.
I have traveled to other communities, from Philadelphia to Belfast, to learn how others have leveraged the arts, culture and the creative community to tackle social problems and build community capacity. I have also participated in health and cultural missions to countries such as Vietnam and Nigeria to share our culture and connect with immigrant communities here in Boston.
Under my Administration, Boston’s new Commissioner for Arts & Cultural Affairs will develop a stream of initiatives specifically to tackle social problems; and as one way to process real-time developments like the Boston Marathon bombing and the Trayvon Martin verdict. This work will happen in concert with a cross-section of organizational and individual stakeholders from outside City government; and like all aspects of our evolving priorities for the arts will be supported by inter-departmental City leadership.
My new Creative Industries Office will work with other City departments to integrate the arts into my economic development plan. For example, I’m proposing a new East Boston Innovation District that could include affordable housing and shared work space for artists. We also will look at adapting the HandMade in America model to assist home-based craftspeople, often single moms, in our economic development, community revitalization and civic health plans; providing the infrastructure, training and wrap-around services for micro-artists to make the leap from limited home-based production to scaled and profitable enterprises.
Bill Walczak with Linda Nathan at our Create the Vote kickoff event. His sign reads I'm an Arts Voter because "Arts are essential for our humanity."