Thursday, April 23, 2009

Article to share: MEMORANDUM by D. Burke

TO: All attendees / Artists Wanted Meeting on 2/26/03
FROM: Deborah A. Burke, Marketing Director
DATE: March 5, 2003
RE: Minutes and overview of "next steps"

Upwards of 45 artists attended this meeting, sponsored by the Office of Malden Mayor Richard C. Howard, Malden Redevelopment Authority, Sand T of artSPACE@16 and the Malden City Council's Downtown Committee.

Speakers at the two-hour meeting (6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. at Malden Government Center, 200 Pleasant St.) included: Sand T, Deborah A. Burke, representing Mayor Richard C. Howard, Stephen M. Wishoski, Executive Director of the Malden Redevelopment Authority (MRA), Downtown Committee Co-chair Ward Four Councillor Jeff Donahue, Elise Mannella, curator/art activist/visual artist, Lauren O'Neal, art administrator/visual artist; and Jennifer Mecca, architect/urban designer/visual artist.

The primary goals of the meeting were to:
  • Engage the artists' community in Malden in a discussion about downtown Malden revitalization efforts.
  • Ascertain whether there was interest among the artists in affordable live/work spaces in the so-called Malden Square area.
  • Acquaint those in attendance with various elements of the downtown revitalization plan including the influx of some new restaurants, the long term goal of renovating the 1600 seat auditorium at the high school into a performing arts center, the upcoming construction of market rate housing in the downtown that will hopefully increase activity in the square and the idea of leasing and or selling live/work space to artists in Malden Square. (The MRA advised those in attendance that it has access to funds that could be used to underwrite rents and mortgages for the artists).
  • Attract a diverse group of artists to the square to set up shop and sell their work thereby generating new traffic (shoppers/diners) for the square as a whole.

The feedback from those in attendance was:
  • Extremely positive:
  • At least ¼ to 1/3 of those in attendance said they would be interested in live/work space (some artists prefer keeping these spaces separate)
  • Many said that they in turn would agree to the Mayor's request that they "give back" to the community and to the schools in particular. Programs such as a comprehensive "artists in residence program" in the schools was discussed.
  • Many expressed interest in seeing available live/work space once it came under the MRA's control (Possible properties include some of the vacant and underutilized second story space above the retail establishments along Pleasant Street and the old Sacred Hearts Church convent should the MRA prove successful in acquiring the building from the Archdiocese of Boston.)
Some suggestions that came out of the meeting:
  • Increase awareness about the arts community in Malden and the city's commitment to the arts in a variety of ways: publicity in the local papers; programs on the local cable access stations; publication of brochures similar in vein to a publication that was shown at the meeting that was produced by folks in Somerville and detailing the many cultural and artistic programs available in that community; billboards or advertising near the MBTA station
  • Involve students-they can help advance the message about an active arts community
  • Explore other ideas including the possibility of undertaking a Windows Art Project similar in vein to the successful program in Davis Square, Somerville
  • Visit a variety of places including Arlington Center for the Arts (a $300,000 non profit that runs artistic/cultural programs); Boston Center for Arts; Brickbottoms and Mud Flats, to name a few in Somerville
  • Develop ways to "keep artists in the Square" maybe through long term affordability clauses in leases and mortgages. Many artists fear displacement once area is revitalized and the feeling was "if we help fix the problem, we'd like to stay".
Next steps for public sector
  • MRA/Mayor's Office would reach out to downtown property owners in next few weeks to ascertain interest in leasing upper floor space to MRA which in turn could be sub-leased to qualifying artists
  • MRA/Mayor's Office would continue to reach out to Archdiocese on convent space.

Next steps for artists
  • Forward copy of these minutes to all attendees for their review and comment as to how they can get involved (future meetings could be with smaller groups interested in one topic or another)

Respectfully drafted by: Deborah A. Burke, 781-397-7000
Distributed on March 5, 2004

Cc: Steve Wishoski, MRA Executive Director
Councillors Jeff Donahue & Chris Simonelli, Co-Chairs,
Council's Downtown Committee