A mural by Napoleon Jones Henderson in the lobby of the Bruce Bolling Municipal Building
Roxbury artists and local businesses are slated for a boost, as a section of the neighborhood received designation as a state cultural district. The Massachusetts Cultural Council Board of Directors announcement last week officially realized a goal decades in the making, and established a third cultural district in Boston, which currently is known as “The Roxbury Cultural District.”
The cultural district status recognizes a walkable section of Roxbury as a hub of art and cultural assets. This designation is expected to highlight local offerings and history, put forth a new neighborhood narrative and attract visitors, generating more economic activity and social connectivity across the city.
An early vision of a cultural district was outlined in the 1987 Roxbury Heritage State Park Master Plan. In 2011 and 2013, the Common Thread Coalition, Roxbury Cultural Network and other stakeholders explored the idea further, and in recent years energy built further: In 2015 Haley House, Madison Park Development Corporation and The American City Coalition partnered to spearhead efforts to prepare an application for state designation, which was submitted in November 2016.
“This is about bringing together arts and culture and a creative economy for economic development,” Charlotte Rice, senior associate of partnerships and development, of The American Cities Coalition, said in a Banner phone interview.
Several Roxbury Heritage State Park Master plan advisory members were actively involved, including Rep. Byron Rushing and Barry Gaither, director of the Museum of the National Center for Afro-American Artists. Support came as well from local officials, including City Councilors Ayanna Pressley, Tito Jackson, Michelle Wu, and Annissa Essaibi-George and members of the city’s arts and culture department.