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Boston Launches First-Ever Cultural Planning Process

A city takes the long-term view of arts and culture.

On April 9, Mayor Martin J. Walsh announced the launch of Boston’s cultural planning process—Boston Creates—a community-wide effort to develop a blueprint for arts and culture for the next decade. The Barr Foundation and Klarman Family Foundation have provided lead support for this vital effort.

This is an exciting time for arts and culture in Boston: we have a Mayor who both embraces and prioritizes the power of the arts and the potential of creative expression to inspire us, enrich our lives, and enliven our communities. The Mayor’s cabinet includes a new chief of arts and culture—Boston’s first in decades—and we are fortunate to have attracted Julie Burros from Chicago to this key leadership role. We also benefit from the presence of an engaged, diverse, and robust arts and culture community that will no doubt bring both great energy and creative ideas to this planning effort.

With the capacity to take the long-term view and invest in the future, philanthropy also has an important role to play in this partnership. The Barr Foundation and Klarman Family Foundation are each dedicating $700,000 to support all facets of the planning effort, including all of the pre-planning work that has already taken place. We have made these commitments above and beyond our typical grantmaking in the arts in order to ensure Boston fully seizes this once-in-generation opportunity.

As we have learned from others in preparation for Boston’s planning process, we have concluded that the cultural planning effort needs to be both thoughtful and comprehensive; it needs to engage a broad cross-section of every community in Boston; it needs to assemble the very best talent to facilitate the planning effort and to bring best practices from other parts of the country; and it needs to produce a plan that is both visionary and actionable.

We also realize that creating a cultural plan represents just a first step. Along with many others, we are committed to investing in helping the most urgent and exciting ideas that emerge from this planning process to move from concept to execution and to make the plan a reality.

Boston is a world-class city, as demonstrated by the strength of its educational institutions, its contributions to key advances in medicine, its growing technology sector, and its rich cultural offerings, among many other assets. As such, we deserve a world-class cultural plan that positions Boston as a leader in deploying its many arts and culture resources toward the creation and sustenance of vibrant, diverse, and engaged communities.

And so, our journey begins.

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