On Tuesday afternoon, the Massachusetts Cultural Council unanimously voted in favor of the proposed Literary Cultural District in Boston. It marks the second state-designated area of this kind – the first, also in Boston, being the Fenway Cultural District – and the inaugural in the nation being of the literary variety.
“I’m thrilled to announce the designation of Boston’s second Cultural District,” said MCC Executive Director Anita Walker in a statement. “We recently celebrated the designation of the first 25 Massachusetts Cultural Districts and I’m delighted to add the Literary Cultural District to this extraordinary group of communities.”
The effort was led by a coalition of prose and poetry enthusiasts including non-profit creative writing center GrubStreet and City Councilors Michelle Wu and Ayanna Pressley (who told me she’s a big fan of Phillis Wheatley). Assuming there are no setbacks or issues encountered, Literary Cultural District coordinator Larry Lindner told BostInno they hope to get the District off the ground come the fall.
“I am thrilled that Boston is the first city in the country to establish a literary cultural district,” Boston City Councilor At-LargeAyanna Pressley said. “I was proud to partner with the many organizations, including Grub Street, that spearheaded this effort.”
Added Councilor Wu, “I’m thrilled with today’s progress and look forward to the programming and opportunities to come.”
Unlike similarly branded neighborhoods like the Innovation District, the Literary Cultural District will be focused more on events and programming than building an innovation economy and infrastructure the way Mayor Tom Menino did in the once-dilapidated Seaport.
According to the MCC, “poetry slams, writing workshops, readings, signings” and much more are likely to to be held within the bounds of the District. Historical homes and bookish sites will also be made available to those interested, and possibly even a mobile app to help navigate Boston’s already perplexing roadways.
The MCC also notes that hotels and restaurants will be getting in on the action to promote the district and, of course, their own establishment. “Restaurants like Carrie Nation offer themed literary menus. And institutions from the Boston Public Library to the Boston Athenaeum, Emerson College, Suffolk University, and GrubStreet have ongoing programs and events that cater to those who enjoy their relationship with the written word.”
If you think about it, the Literary Cultural District simply gives a name to Boston’s already monumental written history while providing the necessary publicity to spread awareness of that fact.
Shakespeare on the Common is already a massive hit. Edgar Allan Poe will be receiving his own life-sized statue and Boston Public Library bust. Why not continue to tap into the city’s classical heritage and further foster the literary renaissance already taking Boston by storm?
Said Eve Bridburg, founder and executive director of GrubStreet:
Areas like Fort Point channel have seen their artistic communities pushed out due to rising costs, and GrubStreet faces a similar challenge as our building is being sold and we too are being forced to consider options outside of the city. The approval of the creation of a literary cultural district in downtown Boston is an important milestone for a city that is trying hard to maintain its cultural heart. With an intentional, coherent approach to our collective work as literary organizations, publications and endeavors, we will put Boston on the map as a literary center and destination
As you can see in the map above there are no real borders to the District, just a vague encompassing of event forums and historical buildings. But we’ll fill you in on the finer details as they continue to be ironed out.
Stay tuned to BostInno for the latest information regarding the Literary Cultural District, including specific dates, times and programming.