Friday, May 18, 2018


BOSTON - Friday, May 18, 2018 - Mayor Martin J. Walsh today announced the departure of Julie Burros, Boston's first Chief of Arts and Culture in more than 20 years. As Chief, Burros oversaw the development and ongoing implementation of Boston Creates, the city's first ever cultural plan, and worked as an advocate for the arts community across new policy creation, including the Percent for Art program, which devotes funding to public art for new capital projects.

Her last day with the City of Boston is June 29, 2018, and Kara Elliott-Ortega, Director of Planning and Policy at the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, will serve as interim Chief of Arts and Culture. A posting for the role of Chief of Arts and Culture will be made available on the city's career center website.

"Arts and culture are part of Boston's storied past, but they are also at the heart of our contemporary identity, powerfully expressing who we have been, who we are, and who we hope to be," said Mayor Walsh. "I am proud of the significant strides we've made in establishing Boston as a municipal arts leader, and bringing the arts closer to the heart of all we do. I wish Julie the best in her future endeavors, and look forward to continuing our important work to support this growing sector of our economy."

Demonstrating his commitment to supporting arts and culture in Boston, Mayor Walsh established the Arts and Culture cabinet in 2014 after being sworn in as Mayor, and established a cabinet-level role for leadership of that office. Julie Burros was selected to lead the office, following a national search for the position.

The Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston is responsible for overseeing the staff of the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture, the Boston Art Commission, Boston Cultural Council, and the Strand Theatre. In addition, the Chief works to create a vehicle through which the city can increase diversity and inclusion in the arts, seek grants and sponsorship opportunities, and secure funding and support for Boston's arts community. The City's Arts and Culture cabinet seeks to grow the arts in Boston across all artistic disciplines, from theater to dance, to the visual arts to public art.  

Since the office was first established in 2014, it has fostered the growth and well-being of the cultural community and promoted participation in the arts. Recognizing the importance of creativity across all policy areas, the cabinet works to promote access to arts and culture to all residents, making Boston a municipal arts leader. Key areas of work include supporting the cultural sector through grants and programs, as well as the production and permitting of art in public places.

Key successes of the cabinet include:
  • Creation of Boston Creates, Boston's first cultural plan, which is a 10 year initiative, driven by the voices of thousands who participated in the planning process, to align public and private resources to strengthen cultural vitality over the long-term, and weave arts and culture into the fabric of everyday life.
  • Establishment of Boston AIR, the City's first artist-in-residence program, through which artists, community members, and City employees work on projects that help reframe social conversations and bolster City initiatives.
  • Distribution of over $1.8 million in Boston Cultural Council organizational grants to local arts and culture organizations throughout the City.
  • Development of the Opportunity Fund, a grant program that provides $1,000 grants to local artists for meaningful one-time opportunities including professional development, local arts events and community arts experiences. In 2017, $100,000 was distributed through the Opportunity Fund, and the amount of funding doubled to $200,000 in 2018.
  • Creation of the  Artist Fellowship Award that invests in individual artists living and working in Boston by providing $10,000 to five artists to recognize exceptional original artistic work while helping the recipients advance their careers and continue their work in Boston.
  • Launch of the Artist Resource Desk a user-friendly single point of entry for high quality constituent services specifically geared for the needs of artists and creative entrepreneurs.
  • Implementation of the City's Alternative Space Pilot Program, through which the City partnered with local businesses and institutions to make underused private spaces available to artists.
"With the launch of many new programs completed and the implementation of the Boston Creates Cultural Plan well underway, it's a fitting time for me to transition to my next chapter and undertake new creative challenges," said Burros. "It has been an honor to serve in Mayor Walsh's cabinet and to play a leading role in the dramatic expansion of municipal arts support championed by Mayor Walsh. Later this summer I will be joining Metris Arts Consulting to spearhead a national cultural planning practice."

Burros will assume the position of Principal Cultural Planner at Metris Arts Consulting, a consulting firm based out of Easton, PA that provides high caliber planning, research, and evaluation services to reveal arts' impacts and help communities equitably improve cultural vitality.

Mayor Walsh continues to prioritize arts and culture in the City of Boston, and in his budget and capital plan, set aside significant funding for the department, with investments including:
  • $1.7 million in new capital funding, along with a new dedicated project manager, to oversee the implementation of the Percent for Art program, building on the $1.7 million dedicated last fiscal year. This innovative model funds public art projects as part of the City's capital plan.
  • Funding to support the second round of an artist fellowship program in response to feedback received in the Boston Creates process. The fellowship supports elevating Boston creatives. Five artists were awarded funding in the last fiscal year.
  • An $18 million investment in the development of a new Upham's Corner Branch Library and $3.4 million going toward life safety renovations at the Strand Theatre, both part of the effort to develop Uphams Corner into an Arts and Innovation District.
For more information on Mayor Walsh's commitment to arts and culture, please visit here.

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