Kim Janey's Response to the Arts & Culture Questionnaire

Your Personal Connection 
We’ve all had defining moments in our lives. What personal connections with the arts and creative expression have had an impact on your life and your view of the community? 

I come from a large family of educators, activists, and artists, including visual artists, actors, songwriters, photographers, singers, filmmakers, graphic designers, and more. I have long supported the arts and cultural institutions in our community. I served on the Board of Directors at Discover Roxbury, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting and preserving the diverse arts and culture landscape of Roxbury. My family founded Black Market, a grassroots incubator that allows artists of color to sell their work and grow their businesses. My cousin’s family started the New Africa Company, a renowned, groundbreaking black theatre troupe. I’m proud to be running in District 7, which boasts a rich and diverse collection of arts institutions: from Symphony Hall and the Huntington Theater, to the National Center of Afro-American Artists, to several historic Jazz bars, and so much in between. With Roxbury recently receiving the designation as a cultural district, I know that cultivating and protecting our arts institutions is a priority for my District.

City Investment in the Arts 
Boston Create​s lays out an ambitious program to build a strong arts and creative culture. Financial investments from the city are necessary for the plan to meet its goals. While the Office of Arts and Culture has grown since 2013, Boston invests significantly less per capita government support than the other comparable cities, leaving many small to medium sized cultural institutions vulnerable. For example, Boston supports the arts at just over $2/person while Chicago spends $7/person and New York contributes $15. What dedicated funding stream will you establish to provide funds for the priorities outlined in Boston Creates and the sector overall? At what financial level will the city invest in the Boston arts and creative sector? 

I believe that funding for the arts is a critical investment in making our city more livable, beautiful, and welcoming. In addition to increasing funding for the arts, we need to ensure that funding is distributed fairly to small- and medium-sized institutions, and that it is especially going toward those in communities of color which are too often ignored by private donors. Policies such as the “Percent for the Arts,” which includes funding for public art directly in the City’s capital borrowing, will ensure that there is a reliable source of funding for the arts in the City’s budget.

Youth Engagement 
Engaging students with the arts in school and out of school is essential to educating the whole child. While the BPS Arts Expansion Initiative has achieved great success with 94 percent of children from Pre-K up to 8th grade receiving weekly art programs, high school student participation in arts education lags far behind. Boston’s nationally honored Creative Youth Development (youth arts) organizations continue to service thousands of kids, yet struggle to raise the money needed to reach student demand. How would you invest in arts education for students of all ages both inside and outside of school to ensure all youth in Boston have a connection to the arts and tap into their creativity? 

Ensuring that young people have access to arts education and see art as a viable career is critically important. The arts budget is often a target for budget cuts, and we must ensure that it is protected. We need to ensure that students at all high schools, not just Boston Arts Academy and specialized programs, have a full arts education as part of their everyday learning experience. We also need to look beyond in-school programming to spark youth creativity. Continued support of Creative Youth Development programs is a key part of this.

 Creating and Maintaining Vibrant Neighborhoods 
The Boston Creates Plan makes a powerful call for increased accessibility and diversity in the arts. With significant development planned in neighborhoods across the city over the decade, making and keeping vibrant neighborhoods for longstanding residents needs to be a priority. How would you use the arts and culture community to build connections that maintain and support the ethnic and socioeconomic diversity that makes the city thrive?  

We must ensure that arts investments reflect the rich diversity of our neighborhoods, and are equitable to communities of color. Our city is at a crossroads: we have significant economic growth, but too many people are being left out of the opportunity and pushed out of the community. I will fight every day to ensure that our neighborhoods remain vibrant, diverse, affordable, and welcoming.

Supporting Working Artists
In the past year, Boston has provided funding and support for individual artists through a series of new grant programs. Despite this investment, many artists cannot support themselves in Boston due to the high cost of living. What will you do to provide more affordable housing and work spaces for artists? 

The City of Boston currently certifies artists to qualify for affordable living and work spaces for a period of eight years, but their current application and review windows prevent artists from seizing extemporaneous opportunities and relocating to Boston where they can contribute to its artistic and cultural ecosystem. Transitioning from the current quarterly schedule in order to reduce the maximum waiting period from four months (three months between reviews plus the one estimated to receive a decision) to one. I would also support opening the automatic artist certification to recipients of Boston’s recently established Artists in Residence program to encourage application and continue to grow the promising program.

Creating Space to Rehearse, Perform and Operate 
Artists and cultural institutions struggle to find space to rehearse, perform, and run their administrative operations. The Boston Performing Arts Facility Assessment demonstrates that the current supply of space does not meet the demand of the arts community. What steps will you take to address this problem? 

Boston is blessed with so many different spaces, both public and private, and I believe that there is much more that we can do with our existing space to include the arts. This is an area where the city can and should do much more to support arts institutions. Space can be shared from schools, libraries, and major cultural institutions with arts groups of various types. Sharing space has the added benefit of spontaneous collaboration and broader exposure.

Best Utilizing the Chief of Arts and Culture
In the fall of 2014, Julie Burros became Boston’s first Chief of Arts and Culture in over twenty years, and she presently works within the Mayor's cabinet. How will you work with additional city departments to leverage this cultural cabinet seat to utilize Boston’s arts and cultural sector as an asset to address the various economic and social issues of the city? 

I’m thrilled that this position has been created. I envision the position working to create partnerships between City departments and institutions. I would certainly advocate for more arts in our schools, for our seniors, and in the community. Building and strengthening the connections between the City’s institutions and art institutions will be valuable for both.

Promoting Arts and Culture in Boston
Boston is known for its educational and medical institutions as well as its championship sports teams. Yet, more than 80 percent of tourist express that their primary reason for visiting the city is to attend arts and cultural events. What will you do to encourage more locals and tourists to see Boston as an international destination for the arts? 

Boston is a cultural capital, and we should continue to market ourselves as such. While it is important to reap the benefits of cultural tourism, we should ensure that our investments remain equitable to small arts and cultural institutions and individual artists of various mediums which may not be as attractive to tourists, but are vital to the community.

Your “Go To” Places
Boston is blessed with a rich mix of arts and cultural organizations. Please name two places where you have had personally significant connections to the arts and/or cultural experiences.

The National Center of Afro-American Artists, affectionately known as the Big Head Museum.
Our incredible music venues – from seeing Sweet Honey in the Rock at Symphony Hall to Diana Ross at The Pavilion.

Do you like this page?

Community Impact

The Drama Studio is one of a handful of youth theatres in the United States that offers quality, range, and depth in its acting training programs. For Springfield-area youth, the Studio's conservatory program offers an unusual opportunity for training that prepares its graduates (all of whom are college bound) to...