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Boston Creates Six Month Update

As 2016 ends, it is a natural time to reflect on milestones and accomplishments of the past year. We’ve accomplished much in that time, most significantly, the creation and launch of Boston Creates, a cultural plan for the city. Six months later, we’ve made lasting progress implementing key elements of the plan. As we look forward to 2017, we see great opportunity for additional steps forward.    

Creating programs that will help to engage artists who live and work in Boston is a priority. Thanks to the support of Mayor Walsh, we were able to launch the Opportunity Fund, for the first time offering grants to individual artists designed to help them share their work with the public, continue their professional development, and hone their skills. These grants are offered ten times per year and to date, we’ve received more than 205 applications and provided over $29,000 in funding.

We’ve partnered with MASS MoCA’s Assets for Artists program to fund 10 Boston artists grants coupled with training in money management, business planning, and other professional skills needed for success. Others in the city have also stepped up with resources for artists. Earlier this fall, The Boston Foundation, in partnership with the Aliad Fund, launched Next Steps for Boston Dance, supporting Boston choreographers who are creating new works. TBF also partnered with the Barr Foundation to create Live Arts Boston (LAB), providing flexible, project-specific grants to performing artists and small nonprofit performing arts organizations also focused on new work.    

Integrating art into all aspects of civic life has also been a priority and we have been working closely with the Department of Public Works to include public art in their current construction projects. To date, we’ve announced calls for artists for a project in Hyde Square and a redesign of North SquareCristina Parreño has just been selected as the artist for Hyde Square.

We wrapped up the first year of the Boston AIR (Artist-In-Residence) program and based on successful feedback, launched year two. Ten artists will work with the Boston Centers for Youth & Family, and bring their creative approached and fresh ideas to ten community centers and BCYF citywide initiatives.

Despite the drought that plagued the region over the summer, when it did rain, we were able to enjoy Raining Poetry, an installation produced by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, the Mural Crews, and Mass Poetry;  We saw the unveiling of First Chair, a new sculpture at Symphony Park by artist Jacob Kulin, and held numerous exhibitions in the City Hall Galleries.

Rehearsal and performance space continues to be a priority. We’ve just launched the Alternative Space Pilot Program with a call for artists for space at the AT&T Flagship Store on Boylston Street. We expect to see a second call for artists for performance space at the Massachusetts Eye & Ear Infirmary early next year and are continuing to meet with other partners to expand the program further. The Boston City Council has also just approved an extension of the Acoustic on Main Program, allowing  small businesses to host acoustic performers without obtaining a live entertainment license. This should provide additional performance opportunities for the talented local musicians that live, work and study here in Boston. The Society of Arts & Crafts opened the doors to their new home on Pier Four in the Seaport, and a second RPF was issued by the Boston Planning and Development Agency for another cultural or civic space on Lovejoy Wharf. We are thrilled to see new partnerships forming to creatively address the need for space, including Lyric Stage Studio, a new rehearsal space available at discounted rates to members of the Boston Dance Alliance. And finally, the results of the cultural facilities study will be released early in the year and we’ll use the results to help shape a strategy around performance and rehearsal space.

As we look forward to 2017, we will continue to move the plan forward. The artist resource desk will officially open in January, serving as a liaison between artists, arts producers, City Hall and the public, to help with permitting, licensing, housing and other functions. We will also augment the MOAC team with a communications director.  

The Boston Foundation will be launching a cultural equity study, which will explore how access to the arts can be enhanced across the city. Imagine Boston 2030, Boston’s master plan, will launch this spring and with it, we’ll begin to create three arts innovation districts here in Boston. We’ll also be supporting the efforts of Hyde Square and Roxbury in their quests to be designated as cultural districts by the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

City Hall will continue to be a home to art, as we launch a series of guest curated exhibitions in partnership with many of the leading arts institutions in the city. We’ll also be launching a fellowship-style grant program to support and elevate Boston’s creatives and officially launching the Percent for Art program, which will bring permanent public art to municipal buildings and infrastructure projects.  

When we launched the plan back in June, we talked about the need for a culture shift in the city. Thanks to the support of individuals and organizations across the city, we’ve begun to move the needle. Artists and arts organizations across the city are beginning to see an increasing number of opportunities. As we move into 2017, we want to continue this forward momentum and look forward to working with you to make it happen.

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