Boston needs more support for smaller arts orgs
For the third interview in this series asking people active in the Boston arts scene about their thoughts on how to rebuild it after the pandemic, I talked to a colleague who worked with me on an attempt to organize local artists into a labor and political organization five years back that we called Mass Creative Workers. Audrina Warren is a visual artist living in East Boston and a member of the Atlantic Works community. She originally moved to Boston from Western Mass for college. For 10 years, Warren also worked with Proof Gallery in the Distillery Building. She keeps trying to back away from the idea of an arts “scene.” See the video of our full conversation below—in which we talk a lot more about that and related issues.
On what has gone before
The problem with Boston arts is hard to narrow down, but it seems like what Boston lacks in imagination it makes up for in legacy and exclusivity. Who is making space and who gets to participate is the same conversation. How many corporate doughnut and coffee shops do we have? More than we need. How many museums or venues do we have? Less than we need. Our arts scene is several arts scenes in competition with each other. We all get sucked into it. Things like “open studios” (virtual or “in real life”) can be powerful connections to art (and snacks) or they can be contentious and political. So much for community.
On what is still to come
How can we make our arts scene better than it was before? Anything can be taken out of a box and made into art. Support is a choice and a responsibility. I am thinking about how we build better networks. More support for less formal, smaller orgs get them footholds, making it easier to set intentions and plan for more stable futures. I am also thinking about how and what we share. How do creators, performers, and venues get opportunities they need or the audience for their program? City permitting hurdles have been in conversation for some time. We’ve seen that open a bit, which is encouraging. Accounts of going through a permitting process for a mural/ statue, or a way to connect with spaces approved for X purposes, or spaces that are looking for creative solutions, and how to book them could be valuable.
DigBoston interview with Audrina Warren
Jason Pramas is executive editor and associate publisher of DigBoston. He holds an MFA in visual arts.
Executive editor and associate publisher, DigBoston. Executive director of Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. Former founder and editor/publisher of Open Media Boston. 2018 & 2019 Association of Alternative Newsmedia Political Column Award Winner.