In this series’ previous features, we saw the unlikely success of Humphreys Street Studios (Dorchester) and the Arts and Business Council’s preserving Western Avenue Studios in Lowell — two different solutions to one long-term, systemic problem: artist displacement.
In this issue, we explore the impact of displacement on individual artists, artist communities and the regional arts ecosystem. We also note that arts displacement is a symptom of an insecure cultural ecosystem — and to solve it, we must address it holistically. Each part of the ecosystem — from higher education (MassArt, Berklee, BoCo, Lesley, RISD and others) to state/local government, corporations, foundations, museums, galleries, concert venues, theatres, publications — all stakeholders in our sector — must come together with one goal: to stop cultural displacement. We must preserve what we have, build more of what we need, and create protections for both. It’s cliche and true: it will take a village.
THE ARTS FACTOR DATA
In 2019, the arts service organization ArtsBoston published its research findings on the economic impact the arts/cultural sector has across the region, called The Arts Factor. Its data shows that our sector pumps over $2 billion in spending into the region annually. It also shows that Greater Boston has more arts organizations per capita (50 organizations/100,000 residents) than any other metro area in the United States.
The data shows our sector creates more than 30,000 jobs, nearly as many as the retail industry in our region and more than 21 million people attend arts and cultural events annually, which is greater than four times the total annual attendance of the Boston Red Sox, New England Patriots, Boston Bruins and Boston Celtics combined. However, the report also shows that Boston ranks 10th of 11 comparable cities in public funding ofthe arts. Why? How do we fix this tragic imbalance? No wonder there is so much displacement. There aren’t enough resources at work to protect our sector.