Creative engagement consulting for City of Boston
In 2015, the City of Boston launched a cultural planning process that would result in comprehensive policy for the next decade.
But many Boston residents don't participate in City affairs. As a result, their voices, needs, and perspectives do not make it into policy design. Boston wanted to change that.
Art + Ethnography
I cofounded Department of Play, an arts+ethnography collective, with artist Katarzyna Balug. The City of Boston hired our team to reach out to people in a creative engagement process.
We used methods inspired by performance art, design, and ethnography to expose the unspoken motivations, aspirations, and emotions that inform Bostonians' relationships with the City and the arts.
Visioning Workshops with Youth
We asked teenagers to imagine the future of the arts and build their visions using abstract blocks. We also asked them to fill out a short questionnaire.
We found that Boston youth want to see art in public spaces all over the city, not just in specialized locations. They also want to share what they make with peers, and see what other young people in Boston are making.
The City published a digital map where residents could share where, and how, they engage with the arts.
We recommended that the City add an imagination tab to the map.
Using social media, we encouraged people to add their visions. We printed and framed their ideas and hung them in the actual physical locations.
Dressed as gallerists from the future, we turned Boston streets into a gallery. As we placed the framed pieces, we talked with people we met on the street.
This process revealed residents' complicated relationships with public art: They want more of it, but they are concerned that it will lead to gentrification and displacement.
Boston's resulting cultural plan incorporated equity, access, and distribution of resources as core policy goals.