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FY22 Arts and Culture Priorities

The City of Boston is making significant investments to ensure an equitable recovery for the arts and culture sector, from theater to dance, public art, and public libraries.

The mission of the Arts and Culture Cabinet is to foster the growth and well-being of the cultural community and promote participation in the arts, in line with the goals of the Boston Creates cultural plan. The Cabinet seeks to promote access to arts and culture to all City residents and to make Boston a municipal arts leader.

Promoting Equity in the Arts

The FY22 budget recognizes the need to invest in communities often underserved by philanthropic art funding. The operating budget includes $100,000 to establish a dedicated funding source for public art conservation and maintenance, enabling the City to prioritize artworks that reflect the stories of marginalized communities.

In addition to expanding the City’s public art project management capacity, the budget includes new capital investments to support the creation of permanent public art. The FY22-26 Capital Plan increases funding for the Percent for Art program by $2.8 million and funds three new artworks in Roxbury and Mattapan:

  • The Legacy of Frederick Douglass in Douglass Square
  • Edward O. Gourdin and African American Veterans Memorial at Gourdin Memorial Park
  • Book Mark’d at the Mattapan Branch Library

Book Mark'd
Design for Book Mark'd sculpture by artist Stu Schechter


The FY22 budget also supports equity at the Boston Public Library (BPL) through strategic investments and reforms:

  • In 2020, the BPL developed its Racial Equity Commitment and Action Plan, which addresses equity both internally, within the BPL’s operations and organization, and externally, with the BPL’s external practices and services. The City is supporting this work with a dedicated coordinator and funding for programming to engage Bostonians in this process. 
  • To dismantle financial barriers that prevent members of the Boston community from using the BPL, the City is instituting the permanent elimination of fines for overdue materials. With this change, the BPL will underscore the principle of “Free to All,” making every space and service accessible and welcoming to all Bostonians.

Supporting the Arts Through Recovery

Photo of The Conservatory Lab Charter School performing at the Strand Theatre, courtesy of Alida Warn.

Boston’s arts and culture sector is a vibrant and thriving part of the city’s economy. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more important now than ever to invest in Boston’s artists and arts organizations. The FY22 budget includes $1 million for an innovative program to train artists and connect them with City departments or local nonprofits to collaborate on COVID-19 recovery efforts.

To make Upham’s Corner an arts and culture hub for residents and visitors alike, the City is also allocating funds to reinvigorate the historic Strand Theatre. FY22 investments include $200,000 in the operating budget to provide opportunities for BIPOC artists, education and job training in creative sectors, and high-quality events and programming at the Strand, as well as capital funding to assess the theater’s facilities needs.

To continue to provide access to library resources during the COVID-19 pandemic, the BPL implemented a number of changes to services and programming for safety and inclusivity. Despite the closure of branches to in-person browsing, programs like BPL To Go, Tech Goes Home, and the expansion of the WiFi Hotspot Lending Program, as well as a number of remote services made available to patrons from home, have driven strong engagement.
As branches begin to reopen, the City is investing $250,000 to support the expansion of programming and services, both in-person and remote, ensuring that patrons can continue to access the wide variety of library services safely.

Roxbury Library artwork
Proposed Percent for Art artwork for the newly renovated Roxbury Branch Library, designed by Joe Wardwell in collaboration with Nakia Hill and youth from 826 Boston.

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