Monday, January 18, 2016

Rally for the home team

There are 329 state-funded local cultural councils in Massachusetts. There are between 2 and 4 statewide awards each year for LCCs, so if they are randomly distributed across all of the LCCs, any particular LCC should expect to receive an award roughly once every 110 years.

Next month, Medford is receiving its 4th statewide award in the past 9 years. That’s not random. In fact, it’s unprecedented.

(One of the projects we funded when I was on the LCC also won a statewide Gold Star Award, so we’re getting recognition for actual programs as well.)

Medford has had a good number of very active and talented volunteers. That’s part of it. Medford’s city government decided to support the LCC financially, which many cities and towns do not do. That’s also part of it. Medford’s arts organizations and business organizations formed a productive coalition to make the arts more visible in Medford, and that’s part of it. But it’s all hard to reconcile with a city that let one of the largest capacity live theaters in the Boston area rot for decades, a city that blatantly refused to help find a home for a local arts center, a city that allowed a premier dance center to go permanently dark directly across the street from City Hall, a city that cannot seem to support a single bookstore or a single art gallery.

There will always be contradictions, and perhaps art thrives in the spaces where contradictions thrive. But there’s an exciting story to tell here if the new Medford administration wants to promote Medford as a home for the arts.

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