Boston Now Has a Cultural Plan
On June 17, the city of Boston released “Boston Creates: A Time for Action,” a cultural plan for the city. It was created after gathering public input over a one-year period, and is a 10-year roadmap for creating a more culturally vibrant city.
The plan is a strong show of support for the arts, which was a central theme of Marty Walsh’s 2013 mayoral campaign. The plan confirms what the arts community has long known: there is a great hunger within the city to maximize the potential of the arts to build and strengthen our neighborhoods, schools, and economic health.
After a draft was released in May, MASSCreative encouraged the arts & cultural community to generate comments to strengthen the draft. In conjunction with outreach to the media, the Walsh Administration beefed up the plan with more vision, specifics and resources. On May 25th, MASSCreative held a twitter chat with the arts community to explore ideas to raise more resources for the sector. More than 240 Twitter users joined the #BosArtsChat, led by an excellent panel of arts leaders: Catherine Peterson, Craig Coogan, Reggie Williams, Liz Devlin, Edrie, and Sarah Shampnois. Check out the highlights and major takeaway in our Storify.
The plan identifies many areas of need such as housing for artists; operating support for small- and mid-sized arts organizations; creation of new spaces for rehearsals and performances; increasing access to arts education, particularly for youth; and streamlining municipal policies related to permits, zoning, and licensing, as well as use of municipal spaces such as schools and libraries for exhibitions and performances. MASSCreative looks forward to working side by side with the Walsh Administration on implementing these goals as additional details are filled in.
While MASSCreative applauds the Mayor’s plan, the plan lacks an adequate, long-term sustainable funding source to implement the ambitious goals of the program. Boston continues to lag behind other major cities with its governmental investment in the arts. A Boston Foundation report released in January ranks Boston at the bottom compared to 10 other U.S. cities. Over the coming year, MASSCreative looks forward to the helping advocate for a robust fundraising plan for the arts with a dedicated revenue stream of municipal investment from the city at its core. Boston is a national leader in many areas, and we know the city can lead in arts and culture as well. We also know that without strong, reliable funding very few, if any, of the ideas and proposals put forth in the cultural plan will ever be realized.