Inspiration comes in curious forms, and these days Mayor Martin J. Walsh is hoping that a cohort of artists will find it at City Hall, working alongside the departments of public works, property and construction management, and police, to name a few.
Partnering with the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, the Walsh administration is forming the city of Boston’s new artist-in-residence program, or Boston AIR, in which an initial group of 11 local artists will collaborate with city representatives to develop a variety of proposed projects.
“Boston AIR highlights the city’s dedication to finding new ways to incorporate innovative ideas and creative thinking into our work,” said Walsh in a statement. He added that he believed the artists would “help us enhance and integrate our cultural capital into our core city services, for the benefit of all of Boston’s residents.”
The 11 artists — in genres ranging from painting to photography, dance, music, and film — will each receive a $1,000 stipend as they work with City Hall counterparts, attending workshops and lectures as they develop project proposals. Three of the proposals will be selected for additional development, and each winning artist will receive a $20,000 stipend as part of a six-month residency within a department.
Julie Burros, the city’s chief of arts and culture, said the program is one of a series of initiatives the city is launching as part of Boston Creates, City Hall’s effort to develop a cultural master plan. In a statement, Burros said the artist-in-residence program “exemplifies how partnerships and cross-sector collaborations can be incubated within government.”
The 11 artists are Shaw Pong Liu, Peter DiMuro, Rashin Fahandej, Pat Falco, L’Merchie Frazier, Georgie Friedman, Roberto Mighty, Caleb Neelon, Melissa Nussbaum Freeman, Liz Nofziger, and Juan Obando.
The artists, who were selected by a jury of arts professionals and representatives from MassArt and the city, will work with city representatives in such areas as public works, property and construction management, parks and recreation, veterans’ services, people with disabilities, education, policy, neighborhood development, women’s advancement, the elderly, and the police.
While the artist-in-residence program may be new for Boston, it’s an idea several cities have implemented over the years. In St. Paul, for instance, the program has produced a project in which hundreds of poems by local authors have been inscribed into city sidewalks. New York recently named Tania Bruguera as artist in residence with the mayor’s office of immigrant affairs, from which she is helping to connect with the city’s large population of undocumented residents.
“Our collaboration with Boston AIR offers us the opportunity to demonstrate the power of art and design in many spheres of public life,” said MassArt interim president Ken Strickland in a statement.
The program is funded in part through the National Endowment for the Arts Our Town grant program, which since its 2011 creation has awarded 325 grants totaling nearly $26 million.
“The City of Boston demonstrates the best in creative community development,” said NEA chairwoman Jane Chu, who added that the work “will have a valuable impact on its community.”Malcolm Gay can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at @malcolmgay