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Futurecity Massachusetts

What if public art was intentional, incorporated into a development project from the very beginning? What if architects and property developers saw themselves as part of a cultural city or a creative neighborhood and asked “could an artist do that?”

That is the idea behind Futurecity Massachusetts, a collaboration announced this week between the Massachusetts Cultural Council and The Boston Foundation.  Mayor Walsh was on hand to announce that Mark Davy and his London-based organization Futurecity would be coming to Massachusetts and specifically, to the Fenway Cultural District in Boston as well as locations in Worcester and Springfield. This will be the first U.S.-based project for Futurecity.

In this time of rapid development across Boston, it makes great sense to be intentional and strategic about how to build in a way that helps to enhance access to the arts as well as to provide sustainable spaces for culture. Davy’s innovative approach to urban development considers the existing cultural assets in the vicinity of new development and works strategically to incorporate artists and complementary cultural uses at the very beginning of the design process, rather than an afterthought

Earlier this year, Mark Davy was in Boston talking about his successful projects that incorporated cultural uses in new developments. He’s helped bring to life projects like Slipstream, one of the longest sculptures in Europe which helps greet 20 million visitors a year as they travel through Heathrow Airport in London. You can catch his presentation on WGBH Forum Network and see Karin Goodfellow, director of the Boston Art Commission and other panelists further discuss how this approach relates to Boston.

This concept isn’t just good for artists and arts organizations. There is strong value in developing projects within a vibrant arts district. More than 200 local developers have already expressed a desire to learn more about Futurecity Massachusetts. This presents a great opportunity for our cultural institutions to be seen not only as a convenient amenity, but as a marketplace driver.

As MCC Executive Director Anita Walker stated, “This is the next frontier of the creative economy in which the arts assert their value as equal partners in the urban realm.”

Futurecity Massachusetts has clear alignment with the Boston Creates plan, helping us to reach the goal of integrating arts and culture into all aspects of civic life.  It takes us one step closer towards a Creative Boston where arts and culture helps to foster creative thinking as a way of solving our problems, big and small.

So, back to my original question.  What if public art was intentional, incorporated into a development project from the very beginning?  Futurecity Massachusetts will help us find out.

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