Boston Mayor Walsh Joins Mayors from Worcester & Springfield to Launch Futurecity/Massachusetts New Approach to Transforming Cities through Creativity is First in Nation

(Boston, MA) – Leaders from the Commonwealth’s three largest cities joined arts and civic leaders today to launch Futurecity Massachusetts, a new approach to transforming cities that puts art, culture, and creativity at the center of redevelopment and revitalization. Futurecity Mass is a joint initiative of the Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) and The Boston Foundation.

Futurecity Mass will work with Mayors, urban planners, and arts and business leaders in Boston, Springfield, and Worcester on key real estate projects within state-designated cultural districts in the three cities, targeting areas ripe for development and job growth.

It is the first US effort to advance the strategies of Mark Davy and his London-based Futurecity, which has created more than 200 partnerships across the globe that reposition cultural assets from community amenities to marketplace drivers. Davy is in Massachusetts through July 19 to begin the work.

“Arts are at the center of a city’s purpose, and in Boston we are working to integrate arts, culture and creativity into every aspect of city life,” said Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh. “Futurecity aligns with the goals identified in our city’s cultural plan, Boston Creates, by providing us with new tools to harness the exceptional creativity that exists in our city, while building on the cultural assets that will continue to make Boston a thriving city now and in the future.”

Joining Mayor Walsh at a City Hall press conference today were Worcester Mayor Joseph Petty and City of Springfield ‘s Principal Planner, Scott Hanson, representing Springfield and its Mayor, Domenic Sarno; alongside Davy, MCC Executive Director Anita Walker, The Boston Foundation President Paul Grogan, and arts and cultural leaders from the three cities.

The Mayors and their partners announced the first phase of the Futurecity Mass coalition’s work, which will focus on Boston’s Fenway Cultural District, the Springfield Central Cultural District, and the Salisbury Cultural District in Worcester. It comprises:

  • Targeting areas within cultural districts where creative assets add significant marketplace value and meet community redevelopment objectives.
  • Determining ways to steer development in those districts to both enhance property values and cultivate new resources for artists and cultural nonprofits.
  • A toolkit designed to help all cities and towns in Mass create placemaking frameworks, identify opportunities, develop programming concepts and cultural partnerships, and build a compelling narrative for this approach.

Davy, Walker, Grogan, and others will walk through each of the three districts with municipal officials and city planners, meet real estate developers, legislators and media, and join discussions with arts and cultural leaders at public receptions. (A full schedule is available to media on request.)

Walker has championed Davy’s approach since seeing the impact of his projects in London two years ago. Futurecity Mass, she said, will build on more than two decades of work by MCC, The Boston Foundation, and many others to grow our state’s creative sector through strategic investment and partnerships.

“This is the next frontier of the creative economy in which the arts assert their value as equal partners in the urban realm,” Walker said. “The Fenway, downtown Springfield, and Worcester’s Salisbury Street are richer in every way because of the presence of artists, and cultural and heritage institutions. Futurecity Mass will help pull the arts out of the back seat and drive development in these neighborhoods.”

“Arts and culture are essential components of a vibrant community,” added Grogan. “Urban and cultural development should be linked closely so that our economic assets enhance, and are enhanced by, our creative assets. That is why the Boston Foundation so excited to work with Mayors Walsh, Petty, and Sarno, and the MCC to support Futurecity Mass.”

Futurecity has been immersed in cultural placemaking projects in different cities for over a decade, brokering partnerships between developers, artists, architects, policy makers, and communities. Davy believes Futurecity Mass will secure Massachusetts’ global position as a cultural leader.

“Successful places – offering varied, lucid, pleasurable, beautiful, surprising experiences – depend on a commitment to culture to remain ahead of the pack,” he said.