“Boston is a city of and for the arts,” said Linda Pizzuti Henry, co-founder and chair of HUBweek, at the launch of the Avenues to the Arts cultural plan on October 10th. In fact, she noted, the arts in Boston are better attended than sports events and attract diverse crowds of all ages.
HUBweek and the Boston Foundation co-sponsored the event, which was held at the Ideas Dome on City Hall Plaza to celebrate a new creative district for Boston focused on Huntington Avenue, which is the spine of Boston’s impressive cultural district—with its iconic arts institutions, public spaces and civic institutions. The area not only animates our city, it contributes more than $2.7 billion to our economy.
The launch was the culmination of an ambitious cultural planning effort initiated in 2017 by the Boston Foundation and the Massachusetts Cultural Council. It was led by Mark Davy’s London-based Futurecity, an organization that promotes the culture-driven development of urban centers around the world. As a result of the planning process, partnerships and a vision for a connective public realm in Boston have emerged—signaling a new era for the city’s arts and culture ecosystem.
“If we get this right,” said Boston Foundation President and CEO Paul S. Grogan, “it will transform our city.”
Futurecity’s Mark Davy remarked, “There are cities that are spending billions to have what Boston already has. It’s time that Boston defines itself as the cultural city it really is.”
Philip Barash, the Boston Foundation’s Fellow of Design Culture, ended the speaking program by drawing attention to a group of young students from MassArt standing near the entrance of the Ideas Dome. “These students are the future of the arts in Boston,” he said. “The Boston Foundation wants to set a table where there is room for all voices as we shape Boston’s cultural future.” Paraphrasing a quote from Winston Churchill, he ended, “We shape our cities and after that they shape us.”
Performances for the launch event were curated by HipStory, an arts and media collective and a grantee of Live Arts Boston (LAB), an initiative of the Boston Foundation and Barr Foundation that supports small performing arts groups and individual performers, a majority of them artists of color.