CTV Cambridge 2021 Policy Platform

Create the Vote Cambridge 

Arts & Culture Platform 


The arts and culture sector is a major driver of the Cambridge economy. Annually, the sector generates roughly $175M, supports more than 6,000 jobs, and contributes more than $13M in local and state government revenue in Cambridge. The COVID-19 pandemic significantly impacted individual artists, cultural workers, and arts organizations in Cambridge. 

Cambridge arts and culture organizations have suffered the loss of $30,668,576 in revenue due to COVID-19 ($24,270,894 earned and $6,397,682 contributed). Of all the metropolitan cities, Cambridge is second only to the City of Boston in total lost revenue (Source: Mass Cultural Council COVID impact survey by city.) 

Cambridge has lost so many arts spaces, Green Street Studios, EMC, Studio 501, Improv Boston and more, over the last 3 years. This points to a critical need for the City to be proactive in reimagining and strengthening space and infrastructure that support the global majority. In designing these spaces and experiences we need to keep equity and inclusion front and center to make sure the arts sector reflects the demographics of the community and ensure that Cambridge is a city that celebrates its cultural diversity. 

Even before COVID, the nonprofit arts and culture sector has been historically underfunded in Cambridge compared to major metropolitan areas nationally. (2018 Arts & Economic Prosperity 5 Report). To safeguard a vibrant and thriving arts and culture sector in Cambridge, we must expand current funding mechanisms and identify new opportunities for sustained investment and stability. 

Without immediate and sustained intervention, arts and culture across Cambridge and the region will be irreparably harmed. To ensure every resident of Cambridge can receive the benefits from a strong arts and cultural community, Cambridge must pursue the following: 

  1. Increase City support for arts and culture to $10 million annually over the next two years to support immediate recovery and opportunities for long-range resiliency of the nonprofit arts and culture sector in Cambridge. 
  • $2 million annually for Cambridge Arts Council’s operations, programs, and technical assistance provided to artists, cultural workers and organizations working in the arts and culture sector 
  • $2 million annually for direct grants through the Cultural Capital Fund based at the Cambridge Community Foundation to support established and emerging individual artists, cultural workers, and cultural nonprofits
  • Increase investment in the Central Square Cultural District, the city’s only designated arts and innovation district, to $1 million annually and ensure Artist- involved decision making protocols. 
  • Use American Rescue Plan Act local aid to invest in direct grantmaking and support for local artists, creatives, and arts long-term sustainability and have decisions guided by a committee made up of artists, cultural workers and organizations. 
  • Use American Rescue Plan Act local aid to seed a dedicated percentage of city operating funds for the hiring of artists and creative workers as part of the work within City departments permanently. 
  • Require the adoption of funding practices that address the historical marginalization of some communities and art forms. 
  1. Integrate arts and cultural recovery into larger economic development plans and commit city funds to the Cambridge Arts Council and other City departments for programs and policies outside of the arts sector that impact the entire creative and cultural workforce. 
  • When creating economic development strategies, loan programs, and related initiatives, ensure arts and cultural for-profit and nonprofit businesses, as well as independent creative workers are eligible to also receive funding and support. 
  • Promote a living wage for all arts and cultural work and continue to invest in workforce training and retraining with a focus on industries and populations hard-hit by COVID-19, specifically artists of all disciplines and artist-run businesses. 
  • Identify legislation or other pathways for improved support for Cambridge’s cultural and gig economy workers, including access to health care, 

unemployment and equitable childcare. 

  • Invest in the health of all Cambridge residents by finding opportunities to integrate creative expression into urgent public health issues where the arts can have an impact: collective trauma, racism, mental health, housing, social isolation, and chronic disease. 
  • Support mid to late career artists by creating programs to assist artists in establishing estate legacy plans for their creative work and enforcing age discrimination policies across City departments in the hiring and support of mid-to-late career artists. 
  • Create dialogue between cultural institutions asked to participate in Payment In Lieu of Taxes (PILOT) and the broader arts community, City Council, the Mayor’s Office, and City Manager’s office to increase understanding of how 

large cultural institutions operate and how PILOT can be strategically restructured to support arts and culture and meet measurable equity and access goals.

  1. Reimagine and Strengthen Space and Infrastructure for Arts & Cultural experiences that support global majority artists and create year-round experiences for the community. 
  • Increase permanent and pop up outdoor performance space. Starlight Stage benefited the local economy and increased activity in Central Square; additional Arts & Culture spaces should be spread across the city and be designed to meet a variety of needs. 
  • Increase indoor art/culture space and provide support for existing spaces. Advocate for corporate and other partnerships such as the Foundry and 585 Arts. Require new buildings to create mandated space for affordable visual arts studios, live/work or performance space. Support pop-up use of vacant existing real estate for arts uses. 
  • Create a more welcoming environment for global majority artists, encourage a pipeline to leadership within Cambridge organizations.
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published this page in CTV Cambridge 2021-10-08 11:33:19 -0400

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