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opinion | Obehi Janice

Curing arts apathy


Arts czar. I find the title unnerving but intriguing. It just sounds harsh, even though I know the appointment of Julie Burros is a welcome salve to what ails our city: apathy.

I’m very aware that the biggest draw to being a Boston-based artist is to incubate your talent and then export it to New York, Los Angeles, or even Chicago to let it shine. It’s a daily reality for performing artists like myself. Recently, however, I had to stop asking the question, “Why stay?” — and instead ask myself and my colleague, “Why leave?” That answer is always stronger and reminds us to think about our successes in a city where being a working artist is an anomaly.


There are so many creative hearts and minds that need affordable artist housing, non-traditional performance spaces, and more access to grants. I hope for a renaissance to enliven Boston. But advocating for individual artists is a necessary first step.

Obehi Janice is a writer and actress as well as a board member at MassCreative.