Big Red & Shiny: Art in the Innovation Hub, Part 1

Laura Mitchell, a Big Red & Shiny contributor, wrote the first post in her blog series exploring the role of art in Boston's strive for innovation. A city like Boston, with its impressive collection of universities and start-ups, has the potential to live up to its promise of being an "innovation hub," and yet, there is still room for growth. The arts and cultural community is an inherent source of creativity, and if treated as a partner, can only strengthen citywide progress. Mitchell quoted Richard Maloney, Assistant Director of BU's Arts Administration program and member of Create the Vote coalition, in his Herald editorial about art and innovation:

"[Richard] pointed out artists’ abilities as 'communicators who know how to connect with a wide variety of people through words, images, sounds, and symbols.' Given Boston’s unparalleled educational resources, universities may be one catalyst for an increased focus on art’s role in fostering new knowledge and understandings."

Read more from this blog, and stay tuned for the next installment in this thoughtful series. 

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Boston Globe to everyone: Art matters!

The message is getting through! Public art matters—and we need political leadership to make it happen.

On Sunday, the Boston Globe ran a highly entertaining and nuanced look at the state of public art in the city. Penned by Globe art critic Sebastian Smee, the article asks why nearly every piece of public art in Boston is made out of bronze and acts as a monument to grief:

"I spent several days scouring the area — in particular the area between the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, but also Cambridge, Fenway, and further afield — and I came to this conclusion: Public art in this city is not just relentlessly conservative. It’s also dismayingly morbid. It’s all about memorializing dead men and traumatic events, and almost always in bronze."

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(Lane Turner/Globe Staff)

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Building community, one note at a time

     

Profiling Create the Vote Coalition members

 

In music, the key to success is harmony.

That’s why harmony is intrinsic to Boston Children’s Chorus (BCC)—which is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2013—in a particularly profound way. Scan your eyes over members of the youth organization at a concert, as they stand tall and smile proudly in their snappy crimson jackets, and you’ll see tremendous diversity. There are boys and girls of different colors, creeds, religions, neighborhoods and backgrounds; outside the Chorus, socioeconomic lines may have kept them apart. But when they open their mouths to sing, these very different youngsters create one beautiful, resounding, unified sound. 

“Diversity is a key objective,” says David C. Howse, executive director of the BCC, which refers to its young participants as Ambassadors of Harmony. Indeed the organization was created by esteemed Boston civic leader Hubie Jones, founder of Massachusetts Advocates for Children, as an artistic opportunity to inspire social change among underserved communities and build bonds between young people. The Chorus has grown exponentially in a decade, from a pilot program of 20 children to an organization of nearly 500 diverse members (38 percent white, one-third black, half from families making less than $65,000) representing 50 different urban and suburban neighborhoods. 

“Embracing differences and understanding other people is vital to building a more empathetic, just and equitable society,” says Howse. Yet even as the Chorus teaches young people to work together as one voice, it also helps each member find his or her own.

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Rainbow Times: Connolly and Walsh Seek Boston LGBT Vote

Chuck Colbert of The Rainbow Times wrote an in-depth article about the work of both John Connolly and Marty Walsh in the LGBT community. Eventually, the discussion intersects with arts advocacy when we hear from MASSCreative's Executive Director, Matt Wilson, and Create the Vote coalition member and Executive Director of Boston Gay Men's Chorus, Craig Coogan:

“It is important to have a mayor who is an arts advocate,” Coogan said, in addition to “having a financial investment in the arts. It really should be a line item in the budget.”

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Imagine the Possibilities: What John Connolly and Marty Walsh Can Learn from Philadelphia

Mayoral finalists John Connolly and Marty Walsh have each pledged to do the following three things if elected mayor of Boston:

  • appoint a cabinet-level cultural officer responsible for the arts in their administration;
  • engage in a strategic planning process for arts and cultural initiatives that is coordinated with other city priorities such as education, economic development, public safety, transportation, and housing;
  • dedicate city funds to arts and cultural initiatives. 

As they campaign their way to the final election on Nov. 5, both candidates have much to learn from Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter's focus on the arts. During his run for mayor of Philadelphia in 2007, one of Nutter’s campaign promises was that he would bring more resources to the city’s arts community. He delivered on that promise after Election Day when he established by executive order a Philadelphia Office of Arts, Culture, and the Creative Economy and then hired a cabinet-level Chief Cultural Officer for the city who reported directly to him.

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Congratulations to John Connolly and Marty Walsh!

We don’t know who the next mayor of Boston will be. Voters will make that decision on November 5.

But here’s what we do know: The next Mayor of Boston has vowed to make arts, culture, and creativity one of their priorities. Both have vowed to elevate the support and resources dedicated to the sector.

In a departure from the past administration and every mayoral administration before it, the next mayor of Boston has committed to hiring a cabinet-level arts commissioner. This commissioner will advocate for the sector and work on a strategic cultural plan for the city that can be integrated with other priorities such as education, economic development, and public safety.

State Rep. Marty Walsh promised to appoint a cabinet-level cultural commissioner in his answers to the Create the Vote mayoral candidate questionnaire. City Councilor John Connolly promised to do so in the arts and culture plan released by his campaign. And both candidates spoke in detail about the need for a high-level administration appointee for the arts in their meetings with the Create the Vote Coalition. 

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Statement by MASSCreative on Boston Preliminary Election Results

    

BOSTON, September 25, 2013—On Tuesday, Boston mayoral candidates John Connolly and Marty Walsh emerged as the two finalists for the November 5 election. MASSCreative Executive Director Matt Wilson issued the following statement in response to the election results:

“We don’t know who the next mayor of Boston will be. Voters will make that decision on November 5. But we already know that the next mayor of Boston will be a champion of the arts. Both candidates have committed to hiring a cabinet-level arts commissioner. This commissioner will advocate for the sector and work on a strategic cultural plan for the city that can be integrated with other priorities such as education, economic development, and public safety. Both candidates have also committed to funding the creative sector, reforming the permitting process; bolstering arts education; and employing arts as a tool to spur neighborhood development. 

“Creativity is powerful. It increases economic activity, boosts educational opportunities for young people, and helps build strong communities. We look forward to collaborating with the next mayor of Boston to support the arts and cultural community in working to its fullest capacity.” 

 

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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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Createquity: Art and the Government

Ian David Moss' national arts blog, Createquity, highlighted the Mayoral Candidate Forum on Art, Culture, and Creativity in its weekly round-up. 

"With a rare, wide-open mayoral race underway, Boston’s arts community hascome together to assert some political sway of its own. The new advocacy coalition MassCreative organized a nine-candidate forum that actually pushed back a televised debate. The primary is today."

Read the round-up here for more great stories about the role of arts in a creative society. 

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Tomorrow, Be an Arts Voter!

When you go to the polls tomorrow, we hope you make a candidates’ stance on arts, culture, and creativity one of your top priorities in who you support. Arts and cultural initiatives, if nourished, will provide creative solutions to many of the city’s most substantial obstacles. Read through our election blog to see many relevant case studies showing that art has the capacity to serve our schools, neighborhoods, and the economy

That’s why we launched the Create the Vote Coalition and campaign: to ensure that the next mayor of Boston is a champion of the arts. We want someone who will:

  • develop a strategic vision for the city’s creative community;
  • fund arts and cultural initiatives across the city; and
  • lead by example by convening community leaders and attending arts events

Polls will be open from 7am to 8pm. Click here to find your polling location.

Click here to for a chart comparing how the candidates would use the arts to address citywide issues.
Click here for a chart comparing the candidates’ personal connection to the arts.
Click here for a chart comparing the candidates’ stance on how the arts can be used to enhance education.
Click here for a chart comparing how the candidates explain how the role that the arts would play in their administration.
Click here for a chart comparing the candidates’ ideas on how to grow the creative economy.
Click here for a chart comparing the candidates’ idea on how to market Boston as a creative and cultural destination.
Click here for a chart on the candidates’ priorities.

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The Herald: Gotta have arts at heart of Hub

Richard Maloney, Assistant Director of Boston University's Art Administration and Create the Vote coalition member, wrote a great op ed piece for the Herald about the vital need for creative talent in Boston. To fully realize the city's innovative potential, we need to support artists, art administrators and creative thinking in the workforce:

"The upcoming mayoral election provides Boston with an unprecedented opportunity to invest in Boston’s competitive advantage as a culture of creativity."

To read more about Richard's thoughts about leveraging creativity in the city, click here

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