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Protecting Spaces for Local Artists, Indigenous Rights Program, and More!


Public forum at the Somerville Media Center main studio, opponents and proponents encouraged to participate!

Somerville Wire on the scene at the 2022 Festival of Activist Street Bands



Protecting Spaces for Local Artists

The City is currently engaged in initiatives to protect existing artist studios and create new spaces for local artists. Mayor Katjana Ballantyne’s administration is taking steps to engage with the Somerville arts and cultural community. She recently embarked on a listening tour focusing on meetings at artist studios. The focus groups will concentrate on rent increase concerns and the importance of large studio buildings as incubators and communities. The next stop on the tour is scheduled for Oct. 14 at the Brickbottom art studios.

The City is planning to hire an Arts Space Planner to manage and implement the 275,000 square feet of space that is expected to be created by the Somerville Zoning Ordinance, which guarantees that 5-10 percent of space in new developments in dense areas, such as Union Square, will be earmarked for Arts and Creative Enterprise use. Enacted in 2019, the SZO is one of the first in the country that earmarks new spaces for ACE uses within new developments.

To better understand the current needs of local artists, the Somerville Arts Council is asking all artists—musicians, dancers, makers, cultural producers, and organizations of all kinds—to complete the Somerville Creative Space Data Survey. The results of the survey will help the City assess what types of spaces artists and arts organizations need.  

“Whether it is creating jobs and economic opportunities, discovering innovative ways to engage communities or help grow cultural awareness, the arts play a huge role in making Somerville the dynamic city that it is,” said Ballantyne. “We are an arts-forward, innovative community, and we will continue to find ways to keep our artist community here and ensure that it thrives.” 


SustainaVille Presents Indigenous Rights Program

The Somerville Public Library and the City’s SustainaVille initiative will host the second event in their fall speaker series, showcasing perspectives on urban planning and building equitable, sustainable, and resilient communities. SustainaVille is part of Somerville’s efforts to reduce the city’s contribution to climate change and to prepare for the impacts of climate change.  

Claudia Fox Tree from the Upstander Project will present a screening of First Light, a short documentary about the Maine Wabanaki-State Child Welfare Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and lead a talk about Indigenous people’s rights to land and environmental justice. Fox Tree has been a middle school special education teacher for over 30 years and has taught professional development social justice courses at the college level for more than 25 years. She is on the board of the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness and is a Massachusetts Liaison for the United Confederation of Taino People.

The talk will take place on Monday, Oct. 17, at 7 p.m. in the Community Room at the West Branch Library, 40 College Ave. Registration is required and space is limited. Visit to register or contact ShanTil Yell at with any questions.


Apply to Serve on Community Preservation Committee

The Somerville Community Preservation Committee is seeking one new member, and Somerville residents interested in affordable housing, historic preservation, and parks and open space are encouraged to apply. The CPC oversees the selection of projects to be recommended for funding through the Community Preservation Act.

Somerville voters overwhelmingly approved adoption of the CPA in 2012. Since then, more than $30 million has been allocated for projects that improve open space and outdoor recreation, affordable housing, and historic preservation. The CPC is tasked with evaluating Somerville’s needs in those three areas and making recommendations to the City Council on how CPA funding should be spent.

The CPC meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 6:30 p.m. The successful candidate will serve a three-year term from Jan. 1, 2023, through Dec. 31, 2025. This is a volunteer position.

Applications are due by Friday, Oct. 28 at 12:30 p.m. The review committee considers both professional and lived experience and seeks candidates who have interest in all three CPA areas and can contribute to the diversity of the CPC. They will nominate candidates for the mayor to review, and the mayor will submit finalists to the City Council for approval. Please note that applicants’ names and brief summaries of their qualifications will be posted on the City website for public review in November.

To learn more and submit an application, go to

Photo credit: Big Winter Hill Skeleton. Photo by Jason Pramas. Copyright 2022 Jason Pramas.

This article is syndicated by the Somerville Wire municipal news service of the Somerville News Garden project of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.

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Linda Pinkow is a reporter for the Somerville Wire. She is also a development consultant for the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.

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