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Posted by Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

All About Art: Celebration of Creativity in the Commonwealth

Since launching in 2013 as a celebration of the arts in Boston, ArtWeek has since grown steadily and is expanding statewide in 2018.  Presented by the Highland Foundation and produced by the Boch Center, this year’s festival features 530+ unique and creative activities, many of which are FREE.  We spoke with Sue Dahling Sullivan, chief strategic officer of the Boch Center, about this year’s celebration, which takes place April 27 to May 6.    

How was ArtWeek originally conceived and what made it grow so dramatically in just five years?
Inspired by the popularity of Restaurant Week, the idea was part of the Boch Center’s strategic plan to expand our nonprofit mission beyond just the four walls of our iconic historic buildings, the Wang and Shubert Theaters. We also wanted to serve as a leader and champion of the broader creative community.
Fueled by national research about the public’s hunger for experiential opportunities, we modeled ArtWeek as a ten-day festival with one-of-a-kind, unusual, interactive experiences – and the creative sparks flew from there! This is our first year expanding statewide, and we’ve doubled the number of events to 530+ and expanded to 155 towns and neighborhoods across the Commonwealth. The best part is that over 70% are free events and 90%+ are free or under $25!

Interactive and engaging experiences from prior ArtWeek events, photo source: ArtWeek

Tell us about signature programs such as “The Art of Food” and “Light up the Night.” 
ArtWeek is a unique opportunity to get everyone involved, so we launched the “Art of Food” in celebration of the creative culinary community. Each season since then, we’ve tapped the innovative genius behind the hospitality and restaurant sectors. Partner restaurants feature a special ArtWeek menu item (drink, appetizer, dessert, sandwich, prix fixe meal, etc.) inspired by a piece of art, a favorite album or song, artist or arts group. With “Art of Food” nothing is off the table!

Light up the Night” is a colorful nighttime celebration of our arts, cultural and creative communities. We invite iconic buildings, public sculptures, walkways, trees/natural environments, bridges, and other outdoor structures to light up during the ten-day celebration with special illuminations celebrating our Creative Commonwealth. So almost literally, ArtWeek is encouraging towns and cities across the state to be in the spotlight!

Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism and the Mass Cultural Council are proud partners of ArtWeek this year.  What is your vision of ArtWeek appealing to visitors as well as residents?
We are excited about the support from our lead champions for different reasons. The Mass Cultural Council connects ArtWeek with 329 local cultural councils and 43 cultural districts, working with volunteers in the communities where they live. The Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism is the go-to resource for visitors to Massachusetts from both near and far, representing all ages and many different interests. In our eyes, these two partners are perfect complements. As a ten-day festival with two weekends, we hope people will get excited about exploring Artweek both in their own communities AND on the road!

A sample of what’s to come during this year’s statewide ArtWeek, photo source: ArtWeek

Art enriches the lives of our citizens, but tell us how art also contributes to the creative economy in Massachusetts. 
The arts mean business in Massachusetts by creating jobs and generating revenue back into the state’s economy. Arts also help develop the next generation of creative thinkers, doers and leaders – critical players in the global economy. And lastly, the arts create better communities where people live, work and play. ArtWeek is an innovative way to spotlight the amazing vibrancy of the Commonwealth’s creative communities. With over 500 events that will appeal to curious minds and creative adventurers, we invite everyone to join us and celebrate incredible creative during ArtWeek!

Thank you Sue!

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