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Somerville Hosting Community Conversations to Inform Cultural Capacity Planning

Local Cultural Ambassadors leading nearly 20 community conversations citywide to discuss how to help arts and culture continue to thrive in Somerville

Mayor Katjana Ballantyne announces that the City and the Somerville Arts Council have launched the next phase of the Somerville Cultural Capacity Plan, consisting of nearly 20 community conversations open to the public and organized by interest (such as visual artists or event organizers).  

“Arts and culture are at the center of what makes Somerville the wonderfully unique and innovative city that it is,” said Mayor Ballantyne. “These community conversations will inform our cultural capacity planning efforts which aim to not only nurture the current artistic community but also to ensure that they continue to thrive." 

The discussions will be facilitated by local Cultural Ambassadors in addition to City staff serving as Advisors. These conversations will address the question: How can we help arts and culture thrive in Somerville? The full list of dates and topics are below. 





March 31  10am-12pm  Arts Non-Profits with Lynn Gerven  Mudflat   (81 Broadway) 
April 5  6pm-8pm  Youth with CJ  Somerville Media Center  (90 Union Sqaure) 
April 5  6pm-8pm  Arts & Culture with Cathy Piantigini  Somerville Public Library  (79 Highland Avenue) 
April 6  6pm-9pm  Visual Arts with Joe Wight  Milk Row Studios  (238 Somerville Avenue) 
April 7  6pm-9pm  BIPOC Folks with CJ  Milk Row Studios  (238 Somerville Avenue) 
April 13  6pm-8pm  Dance Folks with Callie Chapman and Emily Beattie  Assembly Row SomArts Space   (495 Artisan Way) 
April 13  6pm-8pm  Immigrants with Murshid Buwembo  The Somerville Armory   (191 Highland Ave) 
April 20  2pm-4pm  Literary Artists with Andrea Read  The Somerville Armory   (191 Highland Ave) 
April 20  6pm-8pm  Musicians with Ajda Snyder  The Somerville Armory   (191 Highland Ave) 
April 20  7pm-9pm  Gallerists with Lynn Gervens  Mudflat   (238 Somerville Avenue) 
April 22  12pm-3pm  Women's Group with Catherine Nakato  The Somerville Armory   (191 Highland Ave) 
April 22  6pm-9pm  Men's Group with Catherine Nakato  The Somerville Armory   (191 Highland Ave) 
April 23  1pm-3pm  Dancers, Dance Educators, Facilitators, and Choreographers with Callie Chapman and Emily Beattie  The Somerville Armory   (191 Highland Ave) 
April 23  4pm-7pm  Performing Arts Presenters, Curators, Producers with Callie Chapman and Emily Beattie  The Somerville Armory   (191 Highland Ave) 
April 26  5pm-7pm  People with Disabilities with Murshid Buwembo  The Somerville Armory   (191 Highland Ave) 
April 27  6pm-9pm  Visual Arts with Julia Csekö  The Somerville Armory   (191 Highland Ave) 
April 27  6pm-9pm  Literary Artists with Andrea Read  Mudflat   (81 Broadway) 
April 30  2pm-4pm  Parents of Kids with Callie Chapman and Emily Be  The Somerville Armory   (191 Highland Ave) 


To learn more or to register, visit the Somerville Cultural Capacity Plan page on the Somerville Arts Council website, or contact Somerville Arts Council Director Gregory Jenkins via phone: 617-625-6600 ext. 2985 or email 

"As a Somerville Ambassador for the Visual Arts, I hope to get a better understanding of how we as a sector can affect changes for the improvement of living and working conditions within our creative communities.” says Ambassador and artist Julia Csekö. “In these Community Conversations, I look forward to discussing equitable pay, protecting artist live-work spaces, creating sustainable systems for funding the arts and culture, increasing the number and quality of art spaces dedicated to making and showing art, as well as increasing the visibility of the arts sector as a vibrant and active part of the local economy, bringing prosperity to our cities”. 

In addition to Community Conversations, residents are also invited to participate in city-wide forum #1 on May 23rd, focused on cultural preservation, and a second city-wide forum in the fall focused on cultural development. 

“Community participation in this process is paramount, and we are excited about the range of conversations we are able to have as a part of the Cultural Capacity Plan,” says Gregory Jenkins, Director of the Somerville Arts Council. “That these conversations are being led by community ambassadors who are intimately engaged in these issues will deepen both the information we are able to glean and the details of the plan itself”. 

About the Somerville Cultural Capacity Plan  

The Somerville Cultural Capacity Plan (SCCP) will drive a bold vision, articulate a clear strategy, and center creative people and cultural vitality at the heart of Somerville’s future.  

The SCCP will be grounded in conversations  across diverse cultural communities that will foster a shared understanding of the City’s arts and culture history, current strengths and weaknesses, as well as outlining goals, priorities, and strategies to implement them. 

With the third largest share of architects and designers, and the fourth largest concentration of visual artists, musicians, and other performing artists out of any city or town in Massachusetts, Somerville is a hub of the local creative economy. While the city’s recent building boom has created the potential for the development of new arts spaces, the arts community is questioning its ability to capitalize on this growth and flourish in the future. This concern stems from the challenges brought on by COVID-19 as well as organizational capacity, and institutional support. To learn more about the challenges artists face in Somerville, please see the Somerville Arts Space Risk Assessment,  

Building on previous cultural planning efforts in Union Square and pre-planning work initiated in 2020, the Somerville Cultural Plan will provide the container for cross-cultural conversations that will build capacity for cultural change by establishing the vision, policy framework, implementation strategies, organizational structures, and funding requirements needed to develop Somerville’s cultural community in ways that weave arts and culture into other policy and practice areas and help this community to flourish. The City of Somerville has hired Forecast Public Art and Solomon Office to lead this effort. This process will continue through September 2023. 

For further questions, please contact Dan at


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Individuals with disabilities who need auxiliary aids and services for effective communication, written materials in alternative formats, or reasonable modifications in policies and procedures, in order to access the programs and activities of the City of Somerville or to attend meetings, should contact the ADA Coordinator, Adrienne Pomeroy, at 617-625-6600 x2059 or

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