Look at how far we’ve come!

Over the past four months, Boston’s creative community has joined forces to bring arts and culture to the political forefront. Together, we have made our issues a priority for mayoral finalists John Connolly and Marty Walsh.

It started July 10 at the Cyclorama where the Create the Vote coalition kicked off with great optimism. Stephanie Cardon from Big Red & Shiny called the campaign “the opportunity of decades.”

The following month, we developed in-depth questionnaires and sent them to the candidates. Their responses showed glimmers of promising arts and cultural agendas. As we started meeting with them individually, the conversations between the candidates and the arts community grew in scale and depth. Now, the candidates had an opportunity to learn from us. Arts and cultural leaders opened up to share their stories, earning the undivided, personal attention of the mayoral hopefuls.

The Sept. 9 Boston Mayoral Candidate Forum on Arts, Culture, and Creativity marked a high point in the campaign to brings arts and culture into the city’s political conversation. More than 650 people attended the debate—making it the largest of the campaign—and we turned away another 100 at the door who wanted to attend. All nine candidates in attendance sang the creative sector’s praises, demonstrating their own understanding of art’s impact in Boston. And John Connolly used the timing of the event to release his detailed arts and culture plan. Under the adept moderation of Joyce Kulhawik, the candidates were challenged to make commitments, and they did. With the final word, each candidate stood up for the community and boldly promised to be an arts champion.

The Create the Vote coalition continued to attend community events and met with arts and cultural leaders. In the weeks preceding the election, we engaged groups of varying disciplines, eventually reaching over 100 organizations. Arts voters pledged to make arts issue a priority when it was time to cast the ballot, and on Sept. 24, the day of the preliminary elections, they did. Both Marty Walsh and John Connolly, who had made strong commitments to the creative community, emerged as the finalists.

With both candidates’ hard-earned attention, the Create the Vote coalition scheduled final meetings with the candidates before Election Day. In the first of two separate gatherings, leaders and influencers flocked to the African Meeting House on Oct. 18 to hear Marty Walsh define his new agenda for arts and culture. Walsh used the timing of the event to release his detailed arts and culture plan.

The following Friday on Oct. 25, the public meeting with John Connolly took place. The audience at the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts heard Connolly’s praise firsthand when he called Create the Vote the “signature advocacy campaign in this election.”

Tomorrow, Boston will have a new mayor. We have every reason to believe that he will be a champion of the arts. Since the start of the campaign, the Create the Vote coalition has educated the candidates and the public on issues surrounding art, culture and creativity. Create the Vote will be working with the mayor to ensure he stays true to his promises, including: appointing a cultural officer, making a line-item in the city budget for the arts, and developing a strategic arts and cultural plan for Boston.

Please be sure to vote tomorrow! And join our campaign for continued updates. 

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