Joyce Linehan: John Barros is the best candidate for the arts.
I have been an arts advocate all my life - before I even knew what an arts advocate was. As a young girl, growing up in Dorchester, it was the arts that provided me with windows to the world and pushed me to be more curious and empathetic. And it was municipal government - the City of Boston - that really introduced me to the arts, via a program called Summerthing, devised by a remarkable woman named Katherine Kane, and implemented by Mayor Kevin White, which brought performances and workshops into Boston neighborhoods. This may not seem like a big deal now, but back then it was a revelation. With significant public and private funding, the City was transformed by music, murals, film, theater and art-making.
My understanding of the arts has long been wrapped up in my understanding of civic engagement. When I signed on to Marty Walsh’s mayoral campaign, and later his administration as Chief of Policy, I found a willing boss, who could formulate a vision for the arts in Boston. We did some great things - expanded funding, established a Percent for Art program, secured new theaters, and even created a Donna Summer roller disco party and made it an annual event. But when I met John Barros, my colleague at City Hall for seven years, I found a kindred spirit - someone who understood the foundational role of arts and culture, and the benefits of making it a central tenet of all policy. Together with other City Hall colleagues, we made sure that art was part of almost every conversation. It wasn’t difficult, because our world views made it natural to include arts and culture in these conversations.
Now, John Barros is running to be Mayor of Boston, and he has a great plan for arts and culture, which recognizes art as an economic driver, artists as a labor force, and culture as the connective tissue of a great city. His plan calls for the establishment of a new public agency that will preserve and acquire property for cultural use; employ artists in City departments and fund an incubator that supports artists as problem solvers; invest funding in BIPOC-led arts organizations; and continue to advocate to the state for a sustained, reliable funding stream.
Take a look at John’s arts and culture plan, and if you like it, join us.
Thank you so much for your support.