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Boston Creates: Welcome

Read letters from the former Mayor of Boston, Martin J. Walsh, and the Boston Creates Leadership Council Co-Chairs.

A Letter from the Mayor of Boston 

My fellow Bostonians,

Arts and culture have always thrived in our city. They are at the heart of everything that makes us the city we are today—from our storied institutions that attract visitors from all over the world to our neighborhood festivals marked by cultural heritage and pride. Arts and culture are the building blocks of community. They help connect us to one another. They teach, inspire, support, and heal us. That’s why we are committed to elevating arts and culture in the City of Boston.

We claim a number of American cultural firsts: the first public park, public library, public secondary school, public school for African American students, school for visually impaired students, and the oldest performing arts organization in the nation. We are also home to more arts and cultural organizations per capita than any other metropolitan area in the nation. Clearly, arts, culture, and creativity are in our DNA.

Arts, culture, and creativity are in our DNA

As impressive as Boston’s cultural history is, however, we know that we can do better. When I was elected mayor in November 2013, as one of my first actions I formed an Arts and Culture Transition Team and charged it with an important question: “How do we make Boston a municipal arts leader?” At a standing-room-only town hall meeting, we heard the passion of Boston’s arts and cultural community. They wanted to see increased support for the arts from City Hall. They asked that we create a sustainable cultural plan, increase performance and work spaces, and embrace the rich diversity of Boston’s population by supporting a range of arts and culture traditions.

So, we got right to work. We created an office within City government focused solely on arts and culture. We increased the amount of money that the Boston Cultural Council is able to grant to arts and culture organizations. We appointed the first cabinet-level Chief of Arts and Culture in decades. But the work hasn’t stopped there.

In April 2015, we officially launched Boston Creates, the first cultural planning process for the City of Boston. We embarked on an open and inclusive process, guided by a 16-member Steering Committee and a 60-member Leadership Council with representatives across sectors. We formed neighborhood-specific community teams to ensure that the resulting plan would reflect the deep diversity of Boston arts and culture. We were thrilled by the level of engagement. More than 5,000 Bostonians came to town hall meetings, filled out surveys, and participated in community conversations, groups, and individual interviews. You have all taught us how we can find better ways to support artists, organizations, and programs.

Now is the time to move from gathering input to creating solutions. We have a vision for how to enrich and strengthen our civic fabric as only the arts can. With the presentation of this plan, we enter a new stage of Boston Creates: making this vision a reality. I want to sincerely thank everyone who has participated in this conversation so far. And I invite all Bostonians, and call on leaders in the cultural and creative sectors, to continue the conversation and work together to achieve the goals of the plan. Together, we can show the world what we mean by Boston Creates.


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Mayor Martin J. Walsh 

A Letter from the Boston Creates Leadership Council Co-Chairs 

Dear Fellow Bostonians,

It has been a privilege to serve as Co-Chairs of the Boston Creates Leadership Council. We were honored to work with a smart, diverse, and dedicated group of leaders, who share both an abiding commitment to the arts and high aspirations for Boston.

Under the leadership of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, who served as our Honorary Chair, we were part of a dynamic and inclusive process that resulted in Boston’s first-ever cultural plan. At the heart of Boston Creates has been an extraordinary community engagement process in which over 5,000 Bostonians have participated. Although this process has required a great deal of time and effort, we had an important reason for undertaking it: to reach out to all of the people and neighborhoods in the city in order to hear about your passions, struggles, and aspirations and to enable us all to learn from one another. As a result, we have not only enabled the community dialogue necessary to create this cultural plan, but we have also planted the seeds for the partnerships and collaborations that will enable us to carry the work forward.

All along, we reminded ourselves that completing a plan was never the goal. The ultimate success of this work depends on how that plan is translated to tangible action that addresses the many opportunities and challenges before us. Now, it is time for all of us to embrace the civic responsibility that this plan invites and to engage actively to ensure that the arts, culture, and creativity thrive in our city and that we advance the many exciting priorities represented in the plan.

As we begin the shift from planning to execution, we do so with gratitude to the many civic leaders and representatives of the arts community who helped to steward the cultural planning process. We especially want to thank the thousands of Bostonians who contributed their time, energy, and insight to creating a collective vision for the future of arts and culture in Boston, and to helping us all understand what we must do to realize that vision. We are excited about that future and invite you to join us in implementing this exciting vision for Boston’s creative future.



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Jim Canales President, Barr Foundation


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Lee Pelton President, Emerson College

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