Report to Council Calls for City Arts Center

Commission for the Arts Recommends School Programming, Holidays and Permanent Home

Cambridge could better serve its artistic community by building an arts center, having a Cambridge Artist Appreciation Day, and bolstering the arts curriculum in the local schools, according to a report presented to the City Council last night.

The report, written by the Cambridge Commission on the Arts for the 21st Century, recommended ways in which the city could "best serve its artistic community" and "how art could best be disseminated to the residents of Cambridge."

The Commission, which was created by Mayor Kenneth E. Reeves '72 in October 1993, was composed of 40 members of the Cambridge artistic community, including Myra A. Mayman, the director of the Harvard-Radcliffe Office of the Arts, and Cathleen D. McCormick, assistant director of the Harvard-Radcliffe Office of the Arts.

The Commission was chaired by Cambridge writer and filmmaker, Michael Haggerty and local entrepreneur, Niccola Williams.

Williams and the rest of the Commission strongly urged the Council to implement the findings in the 50-page report.

"The arts bring money and jobs. We need you City Councillors to continue to support the arts in Cambridge," Williams said.

"It makes good business sense and it makes sense for Cambridge."

The Education sub-committee of the Commission recommended that the Cambridge school system adopt a policy statement affirming that the arts are central to the education of every student.

Education sub-committee chair Ellen Romney said there should be an arts requirement for graduation from the city's high school.

"Everyone in the city benefits from a thriving artistic community in Cambridge," said Romney, a local singer and a teacher at the Longy School of Music.

The Neighborhood Outreach and Public Celebrations sub-committee recommended that the City support an annual Fourth of July celebration, called IndependARTS, on the Cambridge side of the Charles River from noon until dusk.

The Commission also recommended that Cambridge conduct a city-wide Artist Appreciation Day to recognize the work of local artists and that it build a Center for the Arts.

"A city of this size, complexity and wealth ought to have its own arts center," Reeves said.

"We ought to be known from coast-to-coast as the firmament of arts in New England."