Michelle Wu said that we must recognize “the totality of experiences of the arts communities,” as part of her fight for the position of mayor.
City councilor Michelle Wu said that the arts will be an important area of focus in her campaign for election as mayor of Boston. On January 19, she held a discussion over Zoom called “Building a More Arts Friendly Boston,” during which artists and community members were invited to explore the role of art in the city. One topic that Wu addressed was the need for unity and the expression of creative voices in government.
“Where we need to see Boston moving across many spheres – but I think the arts is a prime example – is ensuring that there are permanent structures that connect people from community into having an impact in government,” said Wu. She added, “The Allston arts community feels very separate from the Dorchester arts community, which feels very separate from Hyde Square. In a city that has Boston’s relatively compact size and punches above our weight with resources, so much of what we need to do is just break down silos.”
Wu also spoke to the need for living and working spaces for artists, describing the possibility of repurposing real estate for affordable housing. In addition, she stated that it is important for students to have access to art in schools and that this is not a funding issue but an issue of priorities. She expanded on the idea that a city’s statues and memorials should be reflective of the diversity of its communities, a practice that Boston should do more of. Wu said that in a future, post-COVID 19 world, she hopes that art will play a part in healing.
“The chance that we have during this pandemic is to move away from band aids and move towards transforming our systems, because it’s not just possible in this moment, it’s what we have to do,” said Wu. “We have no choice but to build a city that leaves us in a more resilient and connected way than we ever were before.”
Shira Laucharoen is a reporter based in Boston. She currently serves as the assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism. In the past she has written for Sampan newspaper, The Somerville Times, Scout Magazine, Boston Magazine, and WBUR.