Local artists collective !nd!v!duals
It would appear to be a good week for the arts in Boston. American Repertory Theater won three Tony Awards at Sunday’s ceremonies. Company One and Boston Center for the Arts hosted the finale to a playwright workshop designed to support and shape the work of female playwrights. Last Wednesday, Boston’s first Public Space Invitational, a crowd-sourced design competition aimed to re-think small public spaces, sidewalks, and Boston City Hall, announced nine lucky winners (out of 70 applicants). The green-light for public works projects is a small victory in the arts community. As Boston Globe columnist Yvonne Abraham puts it, “For those of us who have spent years ripping out our hair, lamenting the mostly vanilla public cultural offerings we’ve settled for, and the opaque, byzantine process it took to get them out there, this is heaven.”
And today, ArtsBoston released an ambitious report, Arts Factor 2014, that sheds light on how the area’s non profit arts and cultural sector bolsters Boston’s economy. According to the report, Greater Boston’s arts and cultural sector is responsible for $1 billion of direct spending in the region, and provides 26,000 jobs, and arts attendees are spending an additional $450 million beyond their admission price, supporting local businesses from restaurants to parking, from child care to souvenirs. For those Boston folk who need some sports context to digest, the report includes some snazzy infographics for easy digestion.
While the report makes reference to some wonderful establishments in our city (ArtsEmerson, Huntington Theatre, etc.,) these institutions are exactly that —established. It’s great news (although hardly surprising) that these companies are a driving force in our city’s economy, but we need to make sure that we understand how a report of this magnitude impacts those who aren’t on the stage or the seats of Loeb Drama Center. We—our city, our politicians, our publications, our art-hungry denizens—must support (or continue to support) those who have only just crossed the stage at graduation.
Catherine Peterson, the head of ArtsBoston, agrees that the little guys, if you will, need our city’s support and is hopeful that the information served up in Art Factor 2014 (#artsdata, if tweeting is your thing) will benefit the young artists as well as the big guns in town.
Peterson also noted that the report, which was compiled from data submitted by 356 artistic and cultural institutions, is reflective of the whole ecology of our arts and culture sector with organizations ranging from the Museum of Fine Arts and Boston Symphony Orchestra to Guerrilla Opera and pop up galleries contributing.
In an op-ed in the Boston Globe published last fall, Peterson talked about “Boston’s ability to retain young innovators.” It is these young innovators that the city needs to keep in mind as it continues to improve its arts and culture scene to ensure that’ll they’ll stick around and contribute.
“These young artists are the R&D of our sector …We need to make sure that the artists who want to stay in Boston can stay in Boston,” says Peterson. “One of the speakers at our event this morning was Melinda Lopez, the fabulous playwright … Melinda talked about the fact when she started off as an actress, and a director and then a playwright 25 years ago it was pretty tough, but she said she’s seen a huge change in Boston’s ability to really support an arts community. Is it perfect? No. Is it better? You bet it is. We need to keep make sure that our writers, our artists, and our actors can have a good life here.”