Mayor Walsh releases assessment of performing arts facilities for public comment

Martin J. Walsh

BOSTON – Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA) have released a Performing Arts Facilities Assessment Project that aims to understand the current and anticipated challenges facing local performing arts organizations. performing arts in Boston.

Posting the draft initiates a 30-day comment period and the public is encouraged to review the assessment and submit comments on bostonplans.org.

The BPDA commissioned the assessment in response to a strategy of the city’s Boston Creates plan, which states that the city of Boston must support the availability, affordability and sustainability of cultural spaces and facilities for arts and cultural organizations. of all sizes in Boston.

“In Boston, our goal is to harness the innovation and creativity of our city to build a better, healthier and more prosperous city that continues to uplift all of our residents,” said Mayor Walsh. “Through this assessment, we worked with residents and stakeholders in Boston and across the region to identify existing resources and the resources needed to support artists. I look forward to continued feedback from our residents as we work to finalize this assessment and determine next steps. “

TDC, a not-for-profit management research and consulting firm, was contracted to conduct the study in partnership with BPDA and the mayor’s office. The study was guided by three questions:

  1. What is the offer of spaces serving the performing arts in Greater Boston?
  2. What is the demand for spaces serving the performing arts in Greater Boston?
  3. How well do supply and demand align?
Martin J. Walsh

The researchers spoke to people from all fields of the arts and related fields, including leaders of large production organizations, artists creating individual shows, venue managers for global companies, volunteers at community centers. and people who support the sector through advocacy, service delivery, philanthropy and policy development. The evaluation made it possible to draw the following conclusions:

  1. There is an oversupply. Certain types and sizes of performing arts spaces are available for rehearsals and / or performances.
  2. There is an unmet demand. Many artists and artistic organizations are looking for additional or different rehearsal and / or performance spaces. The need for rehearsal space is particularly high.
  3. Excess supply and unmet demand do not match due to issues of adequacy, pricing and location of available space.
  4. Since users cannot pay the full operating or capital costs of the facilities, the market needs subsidies to adequately support the facilities. Economic realities for users and providers of space prevent them from finding an “ideal spot” for pricing without significant and ongoing additional support to operate, maintain and update facilities.

The assessment identifies potential solutions that would require a new approach to how facilities are financed, operated and managed in Boston and the creation of new tools to:

  • Improve partnerships between promoters, the City and the local artistic community.
  • Stimulate new sources of funding in the philanthropic community.
  • Develop funding mechanisms that provide ongoing support to increase access to places and ensure they are properly maintained.
  • Ensure that all new spaces are operated effectively with incentive structures that elevate the needs of the local performing arts community.

A final report will be released after the 30-day public comment period.

“I believe this report and the detailed research that has gone into it are of great value to the city and the arts community,” Gary Dunning, President and Executive Director of Celebrity Series. “I commend the mayor’s office for putting in the time and effort to conduct this assessment. Hopefully this will encourage continued dialogue and eventual actions that will provide more and better facilities for the performing arts, which will strengthen and improve Boston’s position as a cultural capital.

Boston’s Performing Arts Facilities Assessment is part of Boston Creates, a year-long community engagement effort designed to help local government identify cultural needs, opportunities, and resources and prioritize, coordinate and align public and private resources to strengthen cultural vitality over the long term. The full cultural plan is available online at plan.bostoncreates.org.

Since the launch of Boston Creates in 2016, Mayor Walsh has been committed to leading the implementation of the plan by creating municipal resources for arts and culture and creating the partnerships necessary to meet critical needs identified in the process. planning. A full list of Boston Creates Plan accomplishments to date can be found here.

Boston Creates and the Assessment of Performing Arts Facilities are part of the Walsh Administration’s commitment to plan for a prosperous and inclusive Boston for every resident. On Tuesday, Mayor Walsh launched Imagine Boston 2030, the first city-wide plan for more than 50 years. Imagine Boston 2030 prioritizes inclusive growth and presents a comprehensive vision to improve quality of life, equity and resilience in all neighborhoods across the city.

As the city of Boston’s planning and economic development agency, BPDA works in partnership with the community to plan for Boston’s future with respect for its past. The agency’s passionate and knowledgeable staff guide physical, social and economic changes in Boston’s neighborhoods and its downtown core to shape a more prosperous, resilient and vibrant city for all.

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