Boston Mayah Walsh on the Arts
Reply to Larry Stark
By: Joyce Linehan - Sep 16, 2014
Thanks for your note to Mayor Walsh. He asked me to respond. He and I also believe that the arts can be a catalyst for social change and healing, and appreciate your ideas. The Walsh Administration’s commitment to the arts is genuine, and I believe that even in the infancy of this administration, we have proved that. We are in the final stages of a nationwide search for an Arts Commissioner – the first one the City has had in decades. Look for an announcement very soon, and let’s be prepared to welcome the person who will help us create the plan that will see Boston become a municipal arts leader. Though the budget for this year was largely formed before we got to City Hall, we committed to matching the contribution the Massachusetts Cultural Council makes to the Boston Cultural Council, which will enable us to DOUBLE the amount of grants we give to small and medium sized arts organizations in town. This was one of just four additions to the tight budget we were faced with. The only other additions were for increased K1 seats, the establishment of an Office of Recovery Services, and additional resources for trauma treatment in neighborhood health centers. This gives you an idea of where the Mayor sees the arts in his personal priorities. We realize that what we’ve done so far is just the start. When the new Commissioner gets here, we will work with him or her to identify revenue sources that can help us build a great department. We’re excited to see where this will take us, and hope the rest of the arts community is as well.
What you are asking us to do – produce and market a play – is really outside of our charge, not to mention our skill set. (In fact, I believe that City Hall shouldn’t really even be in the programming business. Rather, we should work on ways to support those who do programming well. Ultimately, it will be up to the new commissioner to set that course, but if he or she decides to listen to me at all, that’s what I will tell them!) Therefore, we are going to put your idea back on the theater community. The Boston Cultural Council is currently accepting grant applications for FY15 (http://bostonculturalcouncil.com/). Any arts organization can apply, and we are always happy to talk to anyone about use of the Strand. It’s affordable, and there has been much investment in the building in recent years, making it a good place to work. As with all Strand programming, we are happy to have the team in the Arts office think about ways we might reach particular constituencies.
Thanks for your advocacy.
Chief of Policy
Office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh