The mezzanine at City Hall filled up with spectators just after noon today, in anticipation of a press conference the Mayor was holding among a range of local artists, directors, producers, and representatives from theater, dance, and fine arts organizations all over the Hub. Suits and ties mixed with jeans and scarves as all settled in for the announcement of the launch of Boston’s new cultural planning initiative, “Boston Creates.”
At the podium were Mayor Marty Walsh, Chief of Arts and Culture Julie Burros, and Barr Foundation President and Trustee Jim Canales, who took turns expressing their excitement for the future of the arts in Boston, while outlining the values and mission for the plan ahead.
As the first comprehensive cultural planning initiative for the city, Mayor Walsh promised that Boston Creates will unite the community and usher in a new era of innovation for the city to cement Boston’s status as “a municipal arts leader.”
He and Ms. Burros clarified that the success of the cultural plan won’t be possible without the involvement of the people of Boston, and actively encouraged volunteers to apply and even nominate others for leadership roles in the Community Team and Leadership Council.
From the website for the initiative:
Over the next 15 months, Boston Creates will provide an opportunity for Boston’s many communities and neighborhoods to create a cultural blueprint highlighting Boston’s strengths and setting innovative goals for the future. We’ll look at community organizations and individual artists; cultural spaces and facilities; our cultural heritage and communities; our festivals and events; and creative industries and occupations.
“We’re seeing great things in the city of Boston. As I look around, I see artists, I see local artists. And I want to thank you for, I don’t want to say ‘tolerating,’ but for putting up with Boston the last 25 years,” said Walsh. “You’re not getting truly what you deserve, or what you need.”
As if to avoid any residual cognitive dissonance with the legacy art personalities in town, Walsh went on to say he was recently interviewed by the Boston Globe, commenting about Boston as a thriving arts community. “And I kind of laughed,” he said, “because during the last few years, I think if you asked local artists and neighborhoods, they wouldn’t say that.”
He continued: “But the work you did gave the appearance—not just gave the appearance, but really did make sure—that we have a thriving arts community in the city of Boston. I want to thank you for that. And what we’re doing now in City Hall is add to that and give you the assistance you need.”
And Burros was sure to give due credit where it belonged: “This is the culmination of not only me, a few short months, but of many, many people working very hard to get to our launch today,” she said. “The name [Boston Creates] was chosen so deliberately. We’re going to create this plan all together.”
A detailed timeline of the cultural plan’s 16-month engagement schedule and general information can be found at BOSTONCREATES.ORG.