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Allston-Brighton Arts, Culture, and Placekeeping

The Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture commissioned CivicMoxie to conduct research and engagement on cultural assets, publicly accessible art, and placekeeping needs in Allston-Brighton.

The report takes stock of the cultural environment to understand:

  • what exists
  • what is treasured, and
  • what contributes to the unique characteristics of Allston-Brighton.

This baseline is meant as a placekeeping tool. It's a way to understand what may be under threat, and to identify ways to protect and nurture these assets. We want to recognize the contributions of the culture to the community.

Photo: Mural by Jessica Unterhalter and Katey Truhn, courtesy of CivicMoxie.


The report identifies a wide range of ideas for action to the arts and culture ecosystem. These form the basis of our implementation plan.

Citywide policy implementation priorities

Our implementation work includes both Allston-Brighton specific actions and citywide strategies. This reflects that many challenges identified in Allston-Brighton are experienced across Boston. Issues of displacement, housing, and neighborhood character need citywide tools and policy.

We will champion the following city-wide policy ideas:
  • Adopting models to support cultural space
  • Developing affordable commercial space (workspace) policy
  • Growing local control of cultural and community spaces
  • Funding source to secure the above

We are working to advocate, convene partners, and establish a path forward for these actions.

Full list of ideas for action

You can find the full list of ideas for culture-led placekeeping online. This list is a resource for City Hall, community partners, and advocates to build on and act. The Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture does not have the power to execute all these ideas alone. To deliver on priority actions at City Hall, we will need to work with:

  • the Boston Planning and Development Agency (BPDA)
  • the Office of Economic Development (OED)
  • the Department of Neighborhood Development (DND), and
  • the Inspectional Services Department (ISD), among others.

View the full list of ideas

We will also need to work in partnership with:
  • cultural organizations
  • funders
  • private institutions
  • Main Streets organizations, and
  • individual artists and creative workers.

We need community and City of Boston infrastructure to make some of these ideas a reality. Our office is committed to growing our cultural planning capacities and partnerships.

Next steps

Based on community feedback, our office is moving forward with these priority ideas from the report list:


Create standardized procedures and information archives for the licensing, approvals, and enforcement of development agreements.


Clearly define arts and culture community benefits in new development. Provide clear guidelines for the community and developers.


Create inventories of cultural workers, spaces, and organizations. These should be publicly accessible. They can serve as a useful database for employment, commissions, rentals, and information dissemination about grants and other opportunities.

Directing development

In implementing idea 2.2, we are advocating for these Allston-Brighton development priorities:

Allston-Brighton should experience no net loss of creative sector workspace and cultural facilities. Development projects should be directed and coordinated. We want the overall amount and affordability of cultural spaces to be sustained.

The top priority for Allston-Brighton is the preservation and re-provision of space. This includes:

  • affordable commercial space
  • artist work-live space, and
  • cultural venues.

While valuable, public art is not considered a community benefit priority. Arts and culture commitments in development projects should focus on space provision. Existing public art contributions should shift to more collaborative efforts. Public art is not appropriate as a sole community benefit given the other needs in the community.

Cultural facilities and arts uses need more detailed consideration in cooperation agreements. This will ensure artists and cultural activities are not compromised once in occupancy.

Our office is engaged with development projects across Allston-Brighton that impact the arts and culture sector. Read some of our project comment letters below:

Read our comment letter for 155 N Beacon Street

Read our comment letter for 119 Braintree Street

Engaging with Projects

We urge the creative community to continue to organize and advocate for the sector. One way to do this includes engaging in development projects in your area. City of Boston and BPDA analysis identified Allston as the neighborhood with the most residential square footage approved in 2019. This is more than double the next neighborhood. This development pipeline needs to direct support to creative workers and the arts.

A list of current development projects can be found online. Look out for community meeting dates and opportunities to submit written comments. You can use the report and points above as a resource in this advocacy.

Photo: Mural by IMAGINE, courtesy of CivicMoxie.

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