Fort Point and Seaport Neighborhood Forum on the Arts, Culture and Planning at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
The neighborhood forum of Boston’s historic Fort Point and the Seaport District at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) on October 22, 2015 focussed on the arts, culture and planning. The event was organized by Mayor Walsh’s administration in partnership with the Fort Point Arts Community, the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Urban Culture Institute.
The Fort Point and Seaport Forum brought together leaders, residents, artists and professionals from Fort Point and the Seaport as well as from other Boston communities for an informal conversation on neighborhood life and planning initiatives of the City of Boston.
ICA Executive Director Jill Medvedow welcomed the speakers and attendees, followed by a brief overview of ICA history and programs. This important cultural institution with a 80-year history moved to the waterfront in 2006. Contemporary art in all media—visual arts, performance, film, video, and literature—and educational programs foster an appreciation for contemporary art.
Jen Mecca, Chair of the Board of Directors introduced the Fort Point Arts Community (FPAC). Founded in 1980, FPAC has developed three artist live/work buildings at 249 A Street and at 300 Summer Street as well as the Midway Studios on Channel Center Street. FPAC hosted the 36th Annual Open Studios in October, complemented by two other open studio weekends every year in the spring and during the holiday season. FPAC also operates the FPAC Gallery, the Made in Fort Point artist store, and offers numerous other programs.
Christina Lanzl, co-founder of the Urban Culture Institute, gave an overview of her 20-year history in Fort Point and highlighted current projects in partnership with the City of
Boston, the MBTA and FPAC. She then introduced the speakers and facilitated the question-and-answer session following the presentations.
City of Boston presenters were Julie Burros, Chief of Arts and Culture, John Fitzgerald, Deputy Director of Imagine Boston 2030, and Rich McGuinness, Deputy Director of Waterfront Planning. The speakers introduced their plans and vision for Fort Point and the Seaport, followed by a discussion with attendees. The goal of the forum was to engage a group of
diverse community members for a joint conversation and to
further communications within the area and with the City administration. It also provided an opportunity for residents of both historic Fort Point and the emerging Seaport to meet each other.
Richard McGuinness shared his current work on the downtown waterfront and his insights on the series of planning projects he completed for the Boston Redevelopment Authority in Fort Point and the Seaport from 2000 to 2015. He concluded his remarks with lessons learned and inspirations drawn from a recently completed research trip to Seattle.
Julie Burros gave an update on the ongoing Boston Creates city-wide cultural plan, which is expected to build a shared vision for arts and culture for the first time in the city's history. Of note are her plans to update the BRA's Artist Certification program and to increase the number of artist housing units. To bolster the capacity of the office of Arts and Culture, a new planner has been added to the team in October 2015.
John Fitzgerald, the Deputy Director of Imagine Boston 2030, introduced the recently launched municipal urban design plan. The City's last master plan was completed 50 years ago. A robust community participation process is part of this initiative, similar to the cultural plan process.
Many thanks to the hosts and presenters, as well as Kelly Gifford and Kate Shamon of the ICA and Urban Culture Institute Fellows, Thu Ngan Han and Hilary Buskirk of Stantec.
Urban Culture Institute
The Urban Culture Institute works to promote excellence in culture, planning and strategies for the public realm.