Back to top

Mayor Walsh honored for arts leadership

January 19, 2017

Arts and Culture

Published by:

Arts and Culture

The 2017 Public Leadership in the Arts Award was presented by Americans for the Arts and the United States Conference of Mayors.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh was honored today with the 2017 Public Leadership in the Arts Award, presented by Americans for the Arts (AFTA), the nation's leading nonprofit organization for advancing the arts and arts education, and the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM). The National Award for Local Arts Leadership for cities with a population of 100,000 or more was presented at the USCM Winter Meeting in Washington, DC.

"I'm honored to be recognized for the work we are doing, ensuring Boston is a city where arts are accessible to all and where artists can thrive," said Mayor Walsh. "Our success is a collaborative effort, bringing together government, artists, residents, businesses and philanthropic partners, working together in support of a common goal: making arts and culture a part of the fabric of everyday life in Boston."

Today's award recognizes the Mayor's work in ensuring the arts are a priority for the City.  These efforts include increasing the budget of the Boston Cultural Council, creating a Cabinet-level position for arts and culture and launching Boston AIR, an artist-in-residence program within City government.  

In 2015, Mayor Walsh launched Boston Creates, a cultural planning process designed to create a long-term plan for arts and culture. When the plan was unveiled in 2016, it detailed five goals designed to create a cultural shift in the city: building a sustainable arts ecosystem, supporting Boston artists, promoting cultural equity, integrating arts and culture into all aspects of civic life and engaging both likely and unlikely partners, uniting them in the goal of ensuring Boston becomes a leading city for the arts.

"As a Massachusetts native and frequent visitor to Boston, I can see that the arts are alive like never before thanks to Mayor Walsh," said Robert L. Lynch, President and CEO of Americans for the Arts. "His commitment to the arts is unwavering. He understands the importance of using the arts in very creative ways to help enhance the quality of life for Boston's residents, while at the same time harnessing the economic potential of investment in culture. We applaud Mayor Walsh for his leadership worthy of this recognition."

Starting with a vision of Boston as a municipal arts leader, Mayor Walsh has provided both financial support and leadership in the implementation of the Boston Creates Cultural Plan.  He has announced a million-dollar investment in local artists, including creating an artist resource desk at City Hall and a new grant program to ensure artists have access to funds needed to showcase their work.

His commitment to a Percent for Art program will allocate one percent of general borrowing to public art in public buildings and major infrastructure projects and he has pledged to set aside public housing units for low income artists.  

He has also recognized the challenges of cultural spaces in the city, playing the critical role in helping the Huntington Theatre Company stay on Huntington Avenue; launching the Alternative Space Pilot program, creating collaborations between private entities and artists for rehearsal spaces and undertaking a Cultural Facilities Study, designed to help understand the current performing arts landscape and determine the best next steps for supporting, developing, and sustaining performing arts facilities.

"We congratulate Mayor Walsh for his dedication to supporting advancement of the arts and artists in his city. USCM has a commitment to support leaders in the arts and Mayor Walsh is one of our strongest" said Mitch Landrieu, Mayor of New Orleans and Vice President of the USCM. "From expanding cultural spaces in Boston to securing investment in local artists and their work, Mayor Walsh has shown his commitment to working with partners to make the arts accessible to all Bostonians."

The Public Leadership in the Arts Awards

The Public Leadership in the Arts Awards are given in recognition of elected officials who advance the arts and arts education within their communities and whose vision and leadership provide heightened visibility to the value of the arts. A full list of previous winners can be found at http://www.americansforthearts.org/

Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture (MOAC)

The Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture's mission is to support artists, the cultural sector, and to promote access to the arts for all. The office houses the Boston Cultural Council, the Boston Art Commission, and the Poet Laureate program. Responsibilities include implementing the City's cultural plan, Boston Creates; managing the Boston Artist-in-Residence program; curating exhibitions in City Hall; and operating the historic Strand Theater in Dorchester.

For more information go to: www.boston.gov/departments/arts-and-culture