Project seeks to put arts at center of redevelopment
First came Boston Creates, now comes Futurecity Massachusetts, a joint project of the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Boston Foundation that seeks to place arts and culture at the heart of redevelopment and revitalization efforts in the state’s three largest cities. The partnership, which is working with consultant Mark Davy’s London-based Futurecity, will focus on real estate projects in Boston’s Fenway Cultural District, the Springfield Central Cultural District, and Worcester’s Salisbury Cultural District.
While specific projects have yet to be determined, Davy will be in Massachusetts for the next week, touring the three districts and meeting with cultural leaders, developers, and politicians. He’ll kick off his visit Tuesday morning with a walking tour of the Fenway before heading to City Hall to meet Mayor Martin J. Walsh and officials from Springfield and Worcester for the official press launch.
Organizers say they hope the project will develop strategies that both enhance property values and create opportunities for artists and cultural nonprofits.
“This is the next frontier of the creative economy in which the arts assert their value as equal partners in the urban realm,” said Anita Walker, executive director of the Massachusetts Cultural Council. “Futurecity Mass will help pull the arts out of the back seat and drive development in these neighborhoods.”
Futurecity Massachusetts marks the cultural consultant’s US debut, although his firm has worked on many similar projects, including public art commissions, community engagement programs, and broader cultural plans.
“Futurecity aligns with the goals identified in our city’s cultural plan, Boston Creates, by providing us with new tools to harness the exceptional creativity that exists in our city,” said Walsh. He added that Futurecity Massachusetts also builds “on the cultural assets that will continue to make Boston a thriving city now and in the future.”
Paul Grogan, president of the Boston Foundation, said the organization was excited to work with leaders from around the state on the project.
“Arts and culture are essential components of a vibrant community,” said Grogan. “Urban and cultural development should be linked closely so that our economic assets enhance, and are enhanced by, our creative assets.”
Although Futurecity Massachusetts will concentrate on projects in the three cultural districts, organizers say the effort will also develop a “tool kit” for other cities and towns to implement similar strategies. Davy, who is in Massachusetts through July 19, will tour Worcester and Springfield later in the week and also spend several days working in Boston.
“Successful places,” he said, “depend on a commitment to culture.”