Create The Vote Boston

Boston’s creative community came out in droves on Jan. 25 to take part in Mayor Marty Walsh’s Arts and Culture Public Hearing, filling the space at the Boston Public Library. It was reported that the Arts and Culture hearing had twice as many attendees as any of the other dozen public hearings by the Mayor’s transition team.

The event was a clear example of the breadth and depth of Boston’s creative community.

  • Marinell Rousmaniere from EdVestors testified on the growth of arts education in Boston Public Schools with increased public funding, making the case for continued investment.
  • Ruth Birnberg from Boston Dance Alliance argued that due to the arts being on the backburner on the city’s agenda, it’s time to make the creative sector much more visible. To best serve this community, she adds, the arts and cultural office must have resources.
  • Sarah Shampnois from Company One theater asks the Walsh administration to fully fund arts education in Boston Public Schools and expand opportunities for organizational engagement through the Boston Youth Fund. Sarah also asked for separate, dedicated revenue streams for arts funding and for the mayor to keep young talent in the city by supporting arts opportunities.
  • Mina Kim from the Fenway Alliance recounts her organization’s struggle with the permitting process and calls for a much more streamlined system.
  • Erin Williams from the Worcester Cultural Coalition encouraged Boston government and members of the community to engage with cities across the Commonwealth. She also talked about how the rest of the state’s creative community was looking at Boston to set a high standard for other cities and towns in the Commonwealth to follow.
  • Steve Maler from Commonwealth Shakespeare Company raised the excellent point that we should see Mayor Marty Walsh at art events.
  • Charlie McCabe from Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy asked for continued support of public artwork around the city.
  • Julie Hennrikus from StageSource testified on the impact of small and fringe groups, as well as individual artists in the theater and larger Boston arts community, calling for greater support from the city.
  • Eve Bridburg from Grub Street noted how much the city already accomplished through art and asked the Committee to imagine what could be accomplished with a dedicated arts plan that was coordinated with other city functions.
  • Joyce Kulhawik voiced the need for Boston to broadcast the arts and offered up a new motto: “Boston’s Got It! Come Here!”
  • Gail Zarren from Young Audiences of Massachusetts gave us the poignant statement that there’s one pathway that brings us together, and that is the arts.
  • Ty Furman from Boston University Art Initiative voiced BU’s commitment to partnering with Walsh’s administration to keeping the innovation district model, implementing a mayor’s arts council, and dreaming up ways to support the development of new art spaces.

We were also treated to three fabulous performances, providing context to the discussion at hand:

  • Starr Desmond, student from Zumix  
  • Nancy McGee, alum of The Theater Offensive True Colors program
  • Robyn Bollinger, grad student at New England Conservatory

If you missed the public hearing, you can visit HowlRoundTV and watch the entire archived event. You can also check out our Storify and our blog post about the hearing.



Holding true to one of his boldest campaign commitments, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh made history with his announcement on Jan. 29 to create a Chief of Arts and Culture in his cabinet. For the first time in Boston, the mayor's cabinet will now include a commissioner dedicated to arts and culture, and that person will report directly to the mayor. Director Matt Wilson congratulated the mayor

“During the mayoral campaign, Walsh was the first candidate to pledge to hire a cabinet-level arts commissioner, and his fulfillment of that promise is truly groundbreaking. Boston has never reaped the benefits that can come with coordinated and strategic arts planning taking place hand in hand with other city priorities including education, public safety, and economic development.”

This move will elevate arts and culture in the city. Thank you to all who participated in our Create the Vote campaign, which included numerous conversations with then-candidate Marty Walsh during the campaign about the need for a cabinet-level arts commissioner!

In our latest blog entry, we reflect on the mayor’s history-making announcement and what lies ahead for Boston arts and culture:

We expect that the city will benefit strongly by having a commissioner of arts and culture at the policy-making table. If nothing else, coordination with other city initiatives related to education, public safety, and economic development that might not have been otherwise possible might now take place.

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