Mayor of Boston Marty Walsh – Implications for the Arts

On Tuesday evening, Boston elected the first new mayor in 20 years.  Massachusetts House Representative Marty Walsh defeated city counselor John Connolly by capturing 52% of the vote (An interesting precinct break-down map can be found at WBUR.org).  Walsh will replace longtime mayor Thomas Menino as the city of Boston’s 48th mayor on January 6th.

A change in leadership like this brings with it a host of implications for future policy, both in the arts and in other sectors.  Walsh has called for “an arts renaissance in the city of Boston” and according to the mayor elects website, believes that “art can change lives, build communities, create jobs, and create new opportunities for individuals, neighborhoods, and Boston as a whole.”

Some wonderful promises and plans have been laid out by Walsh, including but not limited to…

–  Increase funding to the arts sector– which has been historically underfunded when compared to 30 of the other largest US cities.

–  Create an Arts r Cultural Affairs Commissioner position on his cabinet and hire a Chief Development Officer for the City.

–  Fully support the Boston Public Schools Arts Expansion Initiative and expand other arts education programs.

–  Create an Artists First Initiative to address artists’ occupational health needs, professional development, affordable artist space, fair trade, and compensation.

–  Walsh promises to have his Cultural Affairs Commissioner actively and regularly solicit feedback from stakeholders and the arts community to ensure the Cultural Affairs Team is working to its fullest potential.

Walsh has positioned himself as a champion of the arts and culture during his political career.  A partial list of his voting record includes… (information taken from martywalsh.org):

  • being the first candidate to hold an arts and culture town hall meeting
  • repeatedly voting to increase funding for the Massachusetts Cultural Council
  • voting to override Romney’s veto of $1.9 million of funds for the Massachusetts Cultural Council
  • voting for the 2006 Economic Stimulus Bill which established the state’s Cultural Facilities Fund
  • voting for the Economic Development Bill which established the Commonwealth’s Cultural Districts Program in 2010
  • cosigning an act establishing a Disaster and Emergency Aid Fund for Massachusetts Artists
  • voting for the state’s landmark Health Care Reform law which enabled many of our artists, cultural workers, and so many of our residents to gain access to needed affordable health care

For further reading on Walsh, his positions, and his campaign promises that pertain to the arts, you can check out…

1. His responses to the MassCreative.org Create the Vote Questionnaire.

2. His Arts and Cultural Affairs platform at MartyWalsh.org.

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