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Mayor Walsh Announces Cabinet Level Chief of Arts and Culture

Today Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the appointment of Julie Burros as Boston’s first Chief of Arts and Culture in more than 20 years, following a national search. Burros will be tasked with stewarding the creation of Boston’s Cultural Plan, and work as an advocate for the arts community across new policy creation. Burros is currently the director of Cultural Planning for the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, a position she has held for more than 15 years. She will begin her role as Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston in December 2014.

“I’ve said from Day One that I want to elevate Boston’s arts and culture profile,” said Mayor Walsh. “During the campaign, I often heard about the need for the arts to be more integrated into the lives of residents and visitors. Julie will bring a fresh perspective and a strong foundation of expertise to envision Boston’s cultural future and execute a master plan for the arts.”

In her position with the City of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, Burros works at the intersection of planning, culture, community development, and capacity building. During her tenure she has strengthened the arts community, and improved the City of Chicago’s cultural identity. Burros has a diversity of experience in policymaking, grant programming, non-profit development, and municipal government.

“Julie was instrumental in developing the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan and engaging the public in that process,” said Michelle T. Boone, Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events. “Our heartfelt congratulations to Julie. This is a tremendous opportunity for her, and she will do a wonderful job.”

“I am so thrilled to be joining Mayor Walsh’s team and look forward to putting all my experience to work for the people of Boston,” said Julie Burros. “Boston has great potential in the arts world, and this is a unique opportunity to examine all of Boston’s cultural assets and align them with Mayor Walsh’s vision to make arts and culture a key piece across all City departments.”

Burros led the creation of the Chicago Cultural Plan 2012, which was awarded the Burnham Award for Excellence in Planning from the Metropolitan Planning Council, and is leading its implementation. In addition, in her current role she acts as a liaison between the arts community and regulatory City departments resolving issues with zoning, licensing, permitting, and building codes; visions the redevelopment of vacant spaces in the City for arts uses, and supports Chicago’s cultural districts. Her signature work in Chicago includes the 2009 Burnham Plan Centennial Pavilions in Millennium Park and the Chicago Cultural Landscape survey of 2002.

Burros did her undergraduate work at the college at the University of Chicago, majoring in sociology, and did her graduate work at Columbia University at the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, with a focus on planning for the built environment.

As Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston, Burros will oversee a staff of 9 housed within the Boston Arts Commission and the Boston Cultural Council, with a budget of $1.3 million. The Chief position has an annual salary of $125,000, and also includes oversight of the Boston Public Library system. The Arts + Culture cabinet was created by Mayor Walsh to elevate arts and culture by separating it from the previous administration’s Office of Arts, Tourism, and Special Events.

Pulling from her experience working on the Chicago Cultural Plan, Burros will steer Boston’s 15-member Cultural Planning Committee through Boston’s cultural planning process. The Plan will be shaped by a public conversation with the goal of creating a long-term vision that better capitalizes on existing resources and makes the City’s arts and culture creative portfolio stronger, more accessible, more sustainable, and more diverse. Burros will promote and execute the final plan, secure resources, and oversee its implementation and evaluation. In addition, she will be tasked with ensuring that all relevant City programs are aligned with the Plan.

In addition as Chief, Burros will work to create a vehicle through which the City can increase diversity and inclusion in the arts, seek grants and sponsorship opportunities, and secure funding and support for Boston’s arts community. Burros will seek to grow the arts in Boston across disciplines, from theater to dance, to the visual arts to public art.

The Arts and Culture Chief search committee included 11-members, and was led by Joyce Linehan, Mayor Walsh’s Chief of Policy.

Committee Members:

Kathy Bitetti, Artist

Patricia Boyle-McKenna, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics

David Dower, ArtsEmerson

Michael Evans, Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics

Danny Green, Mayor’s Office

Vineet Gupta, Boston Transportation Department

Para Jayasinghe, Public Works Department

Jill Medvedow, Institute of Contemporary Art

Charlayne Murrell-Smith, Children’s Museum

Lois Roach, playwright/teacher

Miguel Rodriguez, Boston Baroque

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