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City Council approves Fenway cultural district proposal

Posted by Johanna Kaiser  December 14, 2011 03:15 PM

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The Fenway neighborhood is on its way to being known as an official destination for art and culture.

The Boston City Council today announced its support of the neighborhood’s efforts to become the city’s first state-recognized cultural district.

The neighborhood, which is home to a host of colleges and cultural organizations, including Massachusetts College of Art and Design, the Museum of Fine Arts, and Boston Symphony Orchestra, has been working to create cultural district around the Avenue of the Arts through the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency promoting access to the arts .

The distinction would give the neighborhood funds to foster tourism and support neighborhood art organizations and programs. The council approved a resolution supporting the distinction, a necessary step toward the title of Fenway Cultural District.

The Fenway Cultural District Committee must now submit a complete application to the Massachusetts Cultural Council for approval.

State lawmakers approved the initiative to create cultural districts across the state in 2010 and the program began in April 2011.

“We have an opportunity to blaze a trail,” Councilor Tito Jackson, said at the City Council meeting. Jackson said designating the area will increase tourism, the fourth largest industry in the city, and bring revenue to the city.

“It’s not about competition with one another, it’s about all ships rising,” he said.

The effort to has been spearheaded by the Fenway Alliance, a group of 21 neighborhood cultural and academic organizations, that created the Fenway Cultural District Committee and hopes to oversee the district.

“It’s amazing when you see [representatives from these organizations] all in the same room together,” said Councilor Michael Ross, who co-sponsored the resolution with Jackson. Ross added that the amount of artistic and cultural resources in the city was “on par with multimillion people city, easy.”

The council’s resolution did address concerns about community involvement.

The resolution said the proposed district would encourage participation by people with disabilities, as well as low income, minority, and immigrant residents. The sidewalks and pathways in the area must also be travelled on easily by people with disabilities and the elderly.

That means avoiding popular brick paths that are often bumpy or broken. The district's proposed overseers would also encourage residents and business owners from surrounding areas to participate in all aspects of the district

Follow us on Twitter @FenwayKenmore

Kaiser can be reached at johanna.yourtown@gmail.com.

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