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Friends group raises concerns about Outside the Box Festival on Boston Common

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  July 1, 2013 06:16 PM

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The Friends of the Public Garden is working to reduce any damage to the Boston Common an upcoming nine-day festival may cause.

The group, which helps care for the Common, Public Garden, and the Commonwealth Avenue Mall, said in a letter to supporters it is concerned about the damage the upcoming Outside the Box Festival could cause on the Common.

“I am writing to alert you to an imminent nine-day performing arts festival that threatens to cause serious damage to the oldest and largest of our parks, the Boston Common,” Anne Brooke, president of the Friends of the Public Garden said in the letter. “I want to tell you what we are doing to ensure that appropriate mitigation measures are in place and invite you to help us.”

The free performing arts festival, slated to start July 12 and run through July 20, will showcase nearly 300 theater, music, and dance performances and events at spots throughout the city, including the Common.

The Friends group also opposed the permitting of the festival by the Boston Parks and Recreation Department.

“OTB is an exciting and commendable concept that we would be pleased to support on a smaller scale,” Brooke said. “We are troubled, however, by the unprecedented duration, magnitude and intensity for the festival, which far exceeds the provisions of the 1996 Boston Common Management Plan.”

The management plan, as outlined by Brooke, calls for events on the Common to be restricted to three consecutive days and for events drawing more than 3,000 participants to be scheduled at least two weeks apart.

The group plans this week to tour the Common with Boston Parks Commissioner Antonia Pollak and others to document the condition of certain areas before the event in order to assess any damage that occurs during the event and seek remediation.

The group asked that people report anything inappropriate they observe in the Common to the city's constituent hotline at (617) 635-4500 or text the city's constituent services 617-505-1898 or e-mail the friends group at info@friendsofthepublicgarden.org.

E-mail Kaiser at Johanna.yourtown@gmail.com. For more news about your city, town, neighborhood, or campus, visit boston.com’s Your Town homepage.

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