Why are the arts so important to Martin J. Walsh as he prepares to become Boston's next mayor? Does he have a lifelong connection or personal experiences that drive his vision?
Not exactly, he joked in a statement sent Wednesday to the Globe.
"I won't impress arts people with my personal expertise or lifelong experience in art. My upbringing included many good things, but BSO concerts or a legacy membership to the Boston Athenaeum were not among them," Walsh stated. "But as I have grown, especially in my 16 years as a state legislator, I have seen the impact the arts can have across a wide range of issues, and their deep meaning to individuals and communities I care about, and I have fought tirelessly for the sector. I certainly won't stop as mayor."
Wednesday night at Symphony Hall, where he made a guest appearance with the Boston Pops, Walsh said that he is partial to the music of U2 and Madonna and that he had a great time at a Bon Jovi concert in 1992.
And in his statement to the Globe, Walsh described developing a deeper appreciation for the arts through those close to him. He cited one adviser, an author, whose work had helped the writer cope with personal trauma. A Dorchester native, Walsh said he saw that same potential for healing through art with an organization called Medicine Wheel Productions, based in South Boston, which, among other things, works with kids who are involved in the court system or struggling with addiction.
Another arts lesson came through one of his closest advisers, Joyce Linehan, who traces the beginnings of her career as a small business owner to Mayor Kevin White's Summerthing program, which opened her eyes to the arts and the world beyond her neighborhood.
"When someone is thinking about my legacy as mayor," Walsh stated, "I want to be the person who helped put into place the program [that] inspired a working class kid from my city to do well and do good."
Geoff Edgers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.