Arts and Culture - Ayanna Pressley

Arts and Culture

Arts are essential to creating a city that is welcoming and inclusive to all. Boston’s arts and creative economy play a unique role in breaking down walls and building bridges—connecting people across neighborhoods and culture.

The best neighborhoods aren’t just safe or affordable; they are dynamic and diverse in every way. For this reason, Ayanna is committed to ensuring our neighborhoods are truly vibrant communities. She is a strong advocate for increasing affordable housing and artist space, investing in transit infrastructure (including late-night MBTA service), developing more neighborhood restaurants, and expanding school arts programs. Ayanna believes that to keep lifelong Bostonians here, while also attracting new neighbors and talent, we must work together to build a city where people want to make a life and put down roots. Arts, culture, and creativity are critical for every community in Boston.

In 2014, Ayanna learned that Boston’s Zoning Code—the City’s rules governing neighborhood development—considered art galleries a “forbidden use” in downtown business districts. Following conversations with residents, community organizations, and the Mayor’s office, she put forward a request that this rule be reevaluated. In May of 2015, the Boston Redevelopment Authority, the City’s planning agency, approved Ayanna’s request. Ayanna will continue to advocate for a Zoning Code that supports a range of arts and culture uses, encouraging artists to live and work in Boston, fostering the creative economy, and revitalizing our numerous artist communities throughout the city.

Ayanna has also worked with the Massachusetts Cultural Council to establish designated Cultural Districts and the first-in-the-country Literary Cultural District. These unique districts showcase the best of what neighborhoods can be: they are community-led, walkable, creative centers that foster community, support local businesses, attract tourists, and promote Boston’s emerging cultural and literary talent, as well as its history.

Additionally, Ayanna has fostered inclusion in arts and culture by

  • Fighting to sustain and expand arts programming in our Boston Public Schools, to ensure equitable access to art and cultural experiences and opportunities for every resident in our city.

  • Demanding an investigation by the Attorney General’s office in 2011 after learning that a Boston venue had barred black Harvard alumni and graduate students from their own private party. The investigation resulted in $30,000 settlement directed towards college scholarships for students of color. Following this incident, Ayanna has raised awareness about public accommodation laws in Boston, working to ensure that public venues, including art and music spaces, don’t discriminate against patrons based on their race or sexual orientation.