Somerville Arts COVID-19 Impact Petition

08/28/20 UPDATE: Mayor Curtatone and the ResiStat program will host a Arts Community Town Hall Meeting 9/15/20 at 6:30pm. We encourage all Somerville arts community members and supporters to join this event. 

Somerville Arts Community Town Hall

Mayor Joe Curtatone, the City Council, the Somerville Arts Council, and the City’s ResiStat program invite Somerville’s artists and the cultural community, as well as all interested persons, to join a virtual town hall to discuss challenges faced by the arts community that have been amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic as well as possible solutions. The meeting will be held on Tuesday, September 15, starting at 6:30 p.m.

This meeting is the first of a series of COVID related town hall meetings the City’s ResiStat program will be hosting this fall in lieu of the program’s usual ward-based community meetings. Dates and topics of future meetings will be announced on an ongoing basis. Sign up for City alerts for updates

The meetings will be hosted on the Zoom online meeting platform and livestreamed on YouTube and City Cable TV, and those who prefer can also call into the meeting from any phone (no computer or smartphone needed). Residents may also watch repeat showings of recordings of the meetings on City Cable TV. Visit at the start time of the meeting to join live or get call-in information. Call-in information will also be available on the day of each meeting on City Cable (channel 13 on RCN, channel 22 on Comcast) or by calling 311.

All meetings will be captioned and will have live interpretation into Spanish. Interpretation into Portuguese, Haitian Creole, and Nepali can be provided by request.  If you’re unable to attend the meeting live but would still like us to answer your questions, you can submit them ahead of time at

Individuals with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication, written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures, in order to access the programs and activities of the City of Somerville or to attend meetings, should contact Nency Salamoun, at 617-625-6600 x2323 or [email protected].

Somerville Arts COVID-19 Impact Petition

In partnership with arts and cultural leaders in the city of Somerville, MASSCreative is hosting a petition to Mayor Curtatone and the City Councilors of Somerville to advocate for protection and relief for arts and culture in Somerville. 

If you are a Somerville resident or work in Somerville, add your name to the petition.

Dear Mayor Curtatone, City Councilors, and the Somerville Arts Council,

We, members of the arts community of Somerville, are growing alarmed as the COVID-19 crisis disrupts our lives, takes a toll on our sense of community, and decimates our local arts economy. We urgently request support from the City to survive this difficult time.

Art studios, performance spaces, maker spaces, galleries, and other arts and cultural organizations are all struggling, especially those that generate revenue through classes, after-school programming, skills training, events, monthly exhibitions, and rental spaces. Our costs have gone up as we've procured COVID-related protective supplies, while our incomes have been halted or severely fallen. Meanwhile, our exorbitant Somerville rents are still due. To date, we have received almost no rent forgiveness and no municipal assistance for our organizations.

The arts have brought in money, tourism, new residents, new ideas, and new businesses for decades, making Somerville a diverse and dynamic place to live and work. However, if the City and the community want the arts to continue to exist in Somerville in any meaningful way when this crisis is over, we need real, substantive investment now to stay afloat. 

Mayor Curtatone and members of the City Council, we are asking that you:

  • Allocate city, state, and federal funds for the Somerville arts community, which includes its nonprofit arts and cultural organizations, with grants awarded on the basis of organizational need and impact. One model is the City of Boston, which has allocated federal CARES Act dollars toward arts organizations through a competitive process. Another is the City of Cambridge, which is making substantial arts investments in its FY21 budget.

  • Enact a property tax abatement for landlords and owners who lease to artists and arts and cultural organizations. Tie these property tax reductions to rental relief for those tenants. 

  • Temporarily relax certain permitting and licensing rules so that arts organizations can use our outdoor spaces to recapture some of their lost income for the next 3–4 months. The City made accommodations to support restaurants' expansion of their outdoor operations; similar assistance is needed for the arts and culture sector.

  • Explore ways to create new, permanent art spaces and secure existing facilities (including through the issuance of a municipal bond to support the acquisition and dedication of a municipal building for arts use).

  • Please meet with us for a Town Forum and a wider conversation of how arts organizations and the City can partner for a brighter future. Let us help you! We, like you, are creative and innovative by nature.

Communities all around us are recognizing how much is lost when the arts and culture sector suffers, and they are acting swiftly to shore up their fragile, yet essential nonprofit arts organizations. Befitting our city's reputation as a leader in progressive action, we ask you to work with us to create a bold plan for the arts and cultural community of Somerville, so that we can survive this crisis and contribute to the city for years to come.


Artisan's Asylum: Lars Torres
Arts at the Armory: Stephanie Scherpf
The Beautiful Stuff Project: Marina Seevak
Brickbottom Artists Association: Lois Blood Bennett and Shannon Humphreys
Brickbottom Gallery/Mad Oyster Studios: Debra Olin
Center for Arabic Culture: Alma Richeh
Cervena Barva Press/ The Lost Bookshelf Bookstore: Gloria Mindock
Dead Moon Audio, LLC: Adam Preston Cissell, Owner
Deborah Mason Performing Arts Center: Deborah Dudley
Mudflat: Lynn Gervens
NAVE Gallery: Susan Berstler
Somerville Media Center: Brian Zipp
Somerville Museum: Barbara Mangum, President of the Board
[email protected]: Elizabeth Hunter, Artistic Director
Washington Street Art Center: Lee Kilpatrick
Ann Hirsch, artist at Vernon Street and Mad Oyster Studios
Kerrie Kemperman, photographer, Washington Street Art Center
Eva Rosenberg, Interim Director of Arts & Culture, The Boston Foundation

Residents and workers of Somerville only. Please use your Somerville address. 

This petition is a partnership between MASSCreative and Arts and Cultural Leaders of Somerville. MASSCreative will share contact information of petition signers with the coalition as part of the partnership.

Who's endorsing

Allison Tanenhaus
Jason Polins
Cheryl Hirshman
Chelsea Kendall
Adam Adkison
Paula Garbarino
Carolyn Brown
Nicholas Shectman Arisia, Inc
Daniela DesLauriers
Becky Carpenter
Melissa Hough
Jason Jong Boston Figurative Art Center
John F. O'regan
Eli Epstein Union Press
Danya Sherman
Michael Leonard
Lydia Gralla
Kitty Drexel
L Gordon
Mike Morrissey
Jessica Eshleman
Kaitlyn Bean
Yara Traub-Cseko
Luc Schuster
Jennifer Atwood
Julia Cseko
Paul Tyman
Henry Jung
Mary Kurth
554 endorsements

Will you endorse?

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@netheatregeek tweeted link to this page. 2020-08-26 09:26:43 -0400
I just signed a petition in support of arts and culture in Somerville. If you live or work in Somerville add your name today.
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