Emily Grandstaff-Rice, a member of the Boston Creates Leadership Council, served as a guest author on their blog…

To me, being a part of the Boston community means both getting to know a city’s stories and being part of creating new history. As an architect, I always strive to design buildings that create opportunity—for children to play; in unique places to gather; to provide comfort to a visitor from another city; and spaces to learn for tomorrow’s citizens to shine today.

This is why I value my opportunity to serve on the Boston Creates Leadership Council over the past year, helping to shape the cultural arts plan for Boston’s future. Throughout the wide-reaching process involving artists, community members, developers, cultural icons, institutions, citizens, city officials—and anyone passionate about how art enhances the city—we have collectively contributed to discover what is working now and what the city could do better for the future. It has been a great civic process of expression and listening.

I have heard artists who passionately love this city, and yet also know that to create art in Boston is not such an easy thing to do. Issues of access to the arts, equity, and funding have come to the surface—all things that can stifle diversity and creativity.
I have come to see the greatest opportunity for the new cultural arts plan is to shine a light on what is already here in Boston. True success will be to highlight and show the depth of unique expression—not just the familiar, but the cross-disciplinary, cross-cultural stories in a new context. I want to hear visitors say that Boston is both rich in its history…and rich in art. I want to see Boston as a hub of innovation, creativity, and expression.

After 16 years of living and working in this community, pathways of travel have now become familiar just as certain patterns of speech. I find memories and connections not just in the places I most frequent; but also in the farthest corners. Still, I have to admit there is a lot more for me to continue and explore in Boston—more than I can accomplish in another 16 years.

While I am not a Boston native, my two young children are. I get the opportunity to see the city through their eyes as they learn and question their own narrative of what it means to be a Bostonian. Arts and culture must be part of 21st century Boston if it is to reflect the many stories and dreams of the unique people who call it home.

Topics: Design, art