Boston is a city alive with creativity. During the summer, this creative expression is manifested through the rich festivals that take place downtown and in every neighborhood, in parks and on the streets. These festivals are an incredible demonstration of cultural vitality and diversity, building community and providing everyone with access to arts, heritage and educational programs.
Last year, in recognition of the importance of festivals, the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) established a new grant program to support these initiatives across the Commonwealth. In addition to providing valuable financial support, the MCC has worked with ArtsBoston to offer social media and marketing support to the grant recipients. Many of our local festivals are in their second or third year, a testament to how much this sector has grown. While perennial favorites such as the Puerto Rican Festival continue to thrive, new ventures like the Urban Innovation Festival, produced by the Design Museum Boston, are popping up in new and unusual places.
Recently, the Outside the Box Festival brought the Boston Common to life with music, dance, theater, and visual arts. Children were invited to imagine their own “megacity” with the help of the Museum of Fine Arts. Thousands turned out to enjoy everything the festival had to offer.
Earlier this month, the third annual JP Porchfest welcomed performers of all sorts to the front porches, yards and driveways of residences across the neighborhood. The streets were alive with music, poetry and discovery. It was a delight to explore the neighborhood, run into friends old and new and dip into the rich sampling of local talent.
Last month, the Mayor released Boston Creates, a cultural plan for the City. The goals of the plan call for finding ways to integrate arts and culture into all aspects of civic life, while at the same time, ensuring that all cultural traditions are respected and promoted. Festivals can go a long way in helping us to reach these goals.
Festivals not only entertain and educate, but they generate a sense of pride for local arts and culture. They offer artists and musicians the opportunity to showcase their talents, they contribute to our local economies and bring together diverse communities.
Throughout the year and across the city, ethnic festivals serve as a gathering point for diverse cultures to celebrate their heritages. Events like the Italian Feasts in the North End or the 6th Annual African Festival of Boston serve as an easy entry point for cross cultural sharing. Many of these festivals are free and research by the National Endowment for the Arts shows these events are often the first exposure people have to an art form or a culture that’s different from their own experience.
It excites me to know that there are so many great cultural opportunities right at our doorsteps in Boston. There are still plenty of weekends left this summer to enjoy the many festivals that contribute to our community. You can check out the ArtsBoston festival calendar to get details on all of them. I am looking forward to experiencing as many of them that I can. I hope that you will join me in doing so.