History was made with announcement that there would be a Chief of Arts and Culture in the Walsh Administration

On Jan. 29, 2014, the Walsh Administration announced its plans for reorganizing Boston’s mayoral cabinet. Reporting directly to Mayor Marty Walsh will be the Police Commissioner, Superintendent of Schools, and eight other cabinet officials—including the newly-created Chief of Arts & Culture, who will oversee the library as well as an Arts Commission and Boston Cultural Council.

During the mayoral campaign, Walsh was the first candidate to pledge to hire a cabinet-level arts commissioner, and his fulfillment of that promise is historic. We expect that the city will benefit strongly by having a commissioner of arts and culture at the policy-making table. If nothing else, coordination with other city initiatives related to education, public safety, and economic development that might not have been otherwise possible might now take place.

Other cities that have made arts a political priority by naming cabinet-level arts commissioners have reaped the rewards. In 2008, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter established by executive order a Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy. He also hired a cabinet-level Chief Cultural Officer for the city who reported directly to him. In just five years, Philly’s arts czar brought in federal grant money to Philadelphia for arts and cultural initiatives, and additional private investment, including a three-year $9 million Knight Arts grant. Perhaps most important, Philadelphia’s arts commissioner acted as an ambassador for the arts among other city department heads and helped coordinate arts initiatives in the schools and elsewhere.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel has seen similar success with his arts commissioner. Just one year into an arts policy strategic plan overseen by his arts commissioner, the city saw 60 percent of Chicago Public Schools complete Creative Schools Certification, which rates schools based on how well they are bringing arts instruction and opportunities to students. Chicago’s arts commissioner also re-launched the city’s online Cultural Grants Program, which awarded 200 grants totaling $1.2 million. And the inaugural Chicago Theatre week sold 6,200 tickets to 300 performances.

It’s no secret that there are benefits to bringing the arts community to the policy making table. But the practice has never been tried before in Boston. As Ed Siegel of WBUR’s The ARTery wrote last September about the mayoral campaign: There is “widespread agreement among the candidates on several issues that seemed fairly radical not that long ago — the school day should be extended to allow for arts education and training; developers should spend 1 percent of their construction costs on funding for the arts; there should be a cabinet-level arts administrator.” 

We look forward to working with the Walsh Administration and its new Chief of Arts and Culture in bringing strategic arts planning—and of its benefits—to the city. 

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Rainbow Times: MASSCreative Reacts to Creation of Boston Arts Commissioner Position

For the first time in Boston's history, the mayor's cabinet will now include a position dedicated to arts and culture. The Rainbow Times covered our reaction to Mayor Marty Walsh's history-making announcement that he will hire an Arts Commissioner. This bold move toward elevating arts and culture in the city bodes well for the conversations Create the Vote had with Mayor Walsh during the mayoral campaign about this position.

Executive Director of MASSCreative Matt Wilson celebrates the announcement and the true progress the mayor has made:

“During the mayoral campaign, Walsh was the first candidate to pledge to hire a cabinet-level arts commissioner, and his fulfillment of that promise is truly groundbreaking"

Check out the whole article here

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Statement by Matt Wilson, MASSCreative Executive Director on Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s Announcement That There Will Be a Chief of Arts and Culture In His Cabinet:

“History was made last week when Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced that there will be a Chief of Arts and Culture in his cabinet. This position will report directly to the Mayor alongside the Police Commissioner, Superintendent of Schools, and seven other cabinet officials.

“During the mayoral campaign, Walsh was the first candidate to pledge to hire a cabinet-level arts commissioner, and his fulfillment of that promise is truly groundbreaking. Boston has never reaped the benefits that can come with coordinated and strategic arts planning taking place hand in hand with other city priorities including education, public safety, and economic development.

“Other municipalities around the country including Philadelphia and Chicago show what can be accomplished with a cabinet-level cultural officer working directly with the Mayor to build community. We look forward to working with the Administration and its new Chief of Arts and Culture on strategic arts initiatives that will impact the entire Greater Boston area.”

 

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Founded in 2012, MASSCreative works with creative leaders and entrepreneurs, working artists, arts educators, and arts and cultural supporters to empower creative organizations and the public with a powerful voice to advocate for the resources and support necessary to build vibrant and connected communities.

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The Midway Fund: Help artists own their building

Forty years ago, artists began moving to the Fort Point Channel neighborhood, drawn by its affordable spaces that were large enough to double as studios. By 1980, these artists formed Fort Point Arts Community, an organization representing local artists and their interests, taking another step in establishing the area’s art identity. Not long after, however, the city began to redevelop Fort Point. Property values crept up and many of these pioneering tenants were priced out of the neighborhood. (In 2009, the now-defunct Boston Phoenix published an exhaustive take on the dynamic titled “Artists Get the Shaft.”)

In a game-changing move, a group of artists at Midway Studios are making the transition from tenants to owners of their creative space. With ownership of the building, they can maintain affordable housing and keep artists in the neighborhood. (Full disclosure: MASSCreative is business tenant of Midway Studios, sharing office space with Arts and Business Council, Stagesource, and MassPoetry.)

When Keen Development agreed to sell Midway Studios to its residents, the more than 100 artists who live and work in the space banded together to make a successful bid, pledging $517K of their own money. The Midway Artist Collective—the group organizing this effort—now needs to raise the remaining funds to secure the space. If they can convince prospective investors to contribute $1 million by February 5 and reach a total of $2.2 million by April 1, they can take true ownership. 

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RI Governor’s inspiring proposal to invest in the arts

In the face of economic obstacles for the nation’s smallest state, Governor Lincoln Chafee is looking for the arts sector to deliver a big solution—and he’s willing to make the investment necessary to help.

We have seen reports that art is an economic driver, contributing $504 billion to national GDP, according to a study by the US Bureau of Economic Analysis and the National Endowment for the Arts. We have also seen the success stories of how mayors of cities, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Seattle, have used art as a tool to address citywide issues.

In a state that struggles with rising unemployment and slashed city budgets, Gov. Chafee is electing to take an innovative approach in imagining the state’s budget because he sees state investment in the cultural sector as a clear opportunity for improving all of Rhode Island:

“It’s already here. It’s all around us in this state,” he told The Associated Press. “It just needs a little recognition, a little help. When you look at what the arts can offer the economy, the community, our quality of life, it makes a lot of sense.”

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WAMC: Patrick's Budget Cuts Cultural Funding

In response to Governor Patrick’s $1.5 million budget cut for the Massachusetts Cultural Council, on January 24, 2014, WAMC’s Jim Levulis quoted MASSCreative senior campaign organizer, Tracie Konopinski. In her interview Tracie Konopinski expressed her concern for how the arts community will continue to be hindered if the budget keeps declining:

“His proposal, the $9.6 (million), doesn’t adequately provide for what the creative community needs," said Konopinski. According to MassCreative, over the past 25 years, the state’s funding for the creative economy has declined nearly 60 percent."

Read the full article and listen to the audio on the WAMC’s website. 

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Arts community expresses itself at Boston hearing

The ideas and requests expressed by the arts community at the Jan. 25 public hearing before Boston Mayor Marty Walsh’s Arts and Culture Transition Committee were as diverse as the cultural community itself: open a public library in Chinatown; shut down Boylston Street and hold a Duck Boat parade for Tony Award winners; foster collaboration among all artists with jazz musicians; include artists with disabilities in the planning process; preserve industrial space for artists; support small theater companies; begin planning for the 250th birthday of the founding of the nation; and treat artists as entrepreneurs.

But several clear themes emerged from the testimony, which took place over two-and-a-half hours in the Robb Auditorium at the Boston Public Library: a call for public funding of the arts; increased access to arts education for all students in Boston; streamlining the permitting and licensing process; a show of support for the arts from Boston City Hall via attendance at art events and exhibiting work at City Hall and in other public spaces; and creation of a cultural plan for the city that is coordinated with all city initiatives.

Speaker after speaker made the case for public investment in the arts. When Fort Point artist and inventor Steve Hollinger stated, “We need an arts budget” and referred to the public support of arts and culture by cities like San Francisco, the audience erupted in applause.

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Relive the Boston Arts and Culture Public Hearing

boston_public_library.jpgOn Saturday, January 25, Mayor Walsh's Arts and Culture Transition Committee held a public hearing as an opportunity for the creative community to share what they want to keep, implement, and dream up for the sector.

The community came out in droves, ready to ask the important questions and share their invaluable insight in this public process. In the room and online, the energy was overwhelming. Twitter was so abuzz that the event's hashtag, #bosarts, trended up to the number 4 spot nationally. 

Relive the action from the public hearing, captured in event highlights by our Storify piece.

 

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Rainbow Times: AIDS Action, MASSCreative & MassBudget React to Gov. Patrick's Budget

Today in The Rainbow Times, Christine Nicco reported on reactions to Gov. Patrick's FY15 budget from AIDS Action, MassBudget, and MASSCreative. In a statement to the press, MASSCreative shares the trend toward funding the arts over the years:

Over the past 25 years, the Commonwealth’s investment in the creative community has declined nearly 60 percent. Twenty-five years ago, the state invested $27 million in the creative community; 10 years ago that investment was $19 million. Today, it stands at $11.1 million and Gov. Patrick’s proposal would bring it to $9.6 million.

Read the full article on The Rainbow Times' website

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Statement by Matt Wilson, MASSCreative Executive Director on Gov. Deval Patrick’s Cuts to the Massachusetts Cultural Council in State Budget

BOSTON, January 22, 2014— “We are disappointed with Gov. Deval Patrick’s proposed allocation to the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which cuts the state’s investment in arts and culture by $1.5 million. Massachusetts is home to large-scale museums, theaters, and orchestras, as well as numerous community-based playhouses and art centers that drive our economy, enhance the academic performance of our students, and build vibrant, connected communities. Core to the success of these cultural institutions is public investment in the arts through the Massachusetts Cultural Council. The budget released today by Governor Deval Patrick is a step in the wrong direction.

“Over the past 25 years, the Commonwealth’s investment in the creative community has declined nearly 60 percent. Twenty-five years ago, the state invested $27 million in the creative community; 10 years ago that investment was $19 million. Today, it stands at $11.1 million and Gov. Patrick’s proposal would bring it to $9.6 million. Arts organizations in Massachusetts, particularly the smaller and community-based ones that do so much for the downtowns of our Gateway Cities, and enhance the educations of under-resourced youth, operate below full capacity and are not having the impact that they could be having on the economic health and educational success of our cities and towns.

“Last week, MASSCreative delivered petitions to the State House signed by more than 3,000 voters voicing strong support for a $5 million increase to the Massachusetts Cultural Council budget, bringing it to $16.1 million. We look forward to reversing the Governor’s proposed cuts and working with lawmakers to achieve this goal and support the creative community as it continues to make Massachusetts a desirable place in which to live, work, and play.”

 

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Founded in 2012, MASSCreative works with creative leaders and entrepreneurs, working artists, arts educators, and arts and cultural supporters to empower creative organizations and the public with a powerful voice to advocate for the resources and support necessary to build vibrant and connected communities.

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