Arts Advocates Call on MBTA to Fully Restore Public Art Program

Contact:
Tracie Konopinski, MASSCreative 617-350-7610, tkonopinski@mass-creative.org

More than 35 arts, political leaders sign letter to Interim General Manager Frank DePaola and Secretary Stephanie Pollack

BOSTON, Dec. 17, 2015—Earlier this week, a coalition of more than 35 municipal and political supporters, artists and cultural leaders encouraged the MBTA to fully reinstate funding for the Integral Art Program. Under this program, public artworks were to be created for MBTA stations across Greater Boston.

Last month the MBTA cancelled existing commissions for Green Line extension artworks in an effort to contain the rising costs of the overall expansion project. Projects have since been restored, but plans for other integrated artwork in the Chelsea Silver Line, Blue Hill Avenue, and Wollaston Stations—historically underserved neighborhoods—are still on hold.

In a letter to MBTA Interim General Manager Frank DePaola and Secretary Stephanie Pollack, the coalition thanked the MBTA for reinstating funding to the Integral Art projects on the Green Line Extension and encouraged the restoration of funds to complete public art projects along the Chelsea Silver Line, Blue Hill Avenue, and Wollaston Stations. The letter notes the MBTA’s legacy of pioneering public art programs and their benefits in encouraging ridership, deterring vandalism, and improving customer experience.

“We understand the fiscal challenges the MBTA currently faces, yet we encourage you to acknowledge the extraordinary value that this small portion of the overall budget can put towards genuinely vibrant T Stations through the MBTA’s Integral Art Program,” the arts advocates wrote. 

The budget for the Integral Art Program accounted for $1.9 million of the Green Line Expansion’s $2 billion cost, or approximately one percent. Artists had already begun work on their particular projects when the program was scrapped. 

“The Integral Public Art program is a fraction of the overall price tag for the Green Line Expansion,” said Matt Wilson, executive director of MASSCreative. “The return in terms of benefits to commuters and the communities it serves—not to mention the artists who had been working on the commissions in good faith―is certainly worth the MBTA’s small investment in these projects. This is why there is such strong support among arts advocates for restoring it.”

The signers of the letter include Thomas G. Ambrosino, City Manager for the City of Chelsea; State Rep. Cory Atkins and State Sen. Eric Lesser, the House and Senate Chairs of the Tourism, Arts, and Cultural Development Committee; Julie Burros, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston; Carole Charnow, President and CEO of the Boston Children’s Museum; Jill Medvedow, Director of The Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Marc Draisen, Executive Director, Metropolitan Area Planning Council; and the MBTA Integral Arts Program artists.

The letter is available online at mass-creative.org/mbtaletter. The coalition is encouraging other community members to add their voice through an online petition at mass-creative.org/mbtapetition

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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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