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Franklin - Local Town Pages

Local Creatives, Your Voice is Needed MAPC Survey Aims to Chart Impact of Covid on Arts, Community

Jan 29, 2021 02:12PM ● By Judy O'Gara

Calling all artists and other creatives living and working in Franklin! The Massachusetts Area Planning Council (MAPC) wants to hear from you! MAPC is working with Franklin, Arlington, Boston, and Beverly to understand how Covid-19 has impacted artists, arts and culture organizations, and creative enterprises, as well as their events, programming and activities. The results will help determine a plan for recovery in these communities.

“The creative community has just such a positive impact on the overall economy, on the cultural district and town municipality,” says Nancy Schoen, Chair of the Franklin Cultural District Committee. “When someone goes to a show at THE BLACK BOX, they’re getting gas on the way or stopping into a gift shop. When people aren’t coming to see the performances, the rest suffers, everyone suffers. The MAPC is trying to tap into exactly how much these places, the venues, artists and performers have been impacted, so they can collect data and design programs and grants to best meet the needs of our artists, performers, and cultural organizations.”

The MAPC recently completed a market study for the Franklin Business District. 

“When Covid hit, it became quickly clear what we needed to do was use that effort to guide strategies for recovery. Because the business district overlaps with the cultural district, MAPC’s economic development planner Raul Gonzalez brought me in, working with Franklin Town Planner BryanTaberner,” says Annis Sengupta, MAPC Assistant Director of Arts and Culture. “(The arts survey) is not designed to tie into the marketing plan, so much as to fill a gap that had been requested as part of that plan that we weren’t able to do within that work,” says Sengupta.

The hope, in the end, says Sengupta, “is to understand how to better integrate the strength of the cultural district into efforts to strengthen the business district. How can you support economic recovery in these towns, and how can you support recovery in civic vitality? We’re recognizing the arts are part of the business community and the economic community, but they also do a lot of work in events and creating meaningful places.”

Sengupta notes that the Franklin Cultural Council and the Franklin Cultural District have been great partners in this effort. She adds that while the Massachusetts Cultural Council has also worked to document the financial impact of the pandemic on artists in the community, offering a means to recover some financial loss for those in that sector, the MAPC survey “is looking a little bit more at the bigger picture of the impact, not just on funds, but on their life and their relation to the community,” says Sengupta. 

“Covid has had an enormous impact on the creative sector,” says Nancy Schoen, Chair of the Franklin Cultural District Committee. “Between venues being closed and open seating and new limits on bars, I think it’s just devastating.”

Schoen says the survey is open to “all kinds of artists, visual artists, performance artists, and cultural institutions.” This includes schools of performing arts and music academies, she explains.

“We’re happy to be recognized as a vibrant cultural district. We’d really like to be able to have a lot of people fill this out, so they have some good data to work with.”

Schoen is also grateful to the MAPC for its efforts on behalf of Franklin’s creative community. 

“It’s labor intensive, and our Cultural District is just a volunteer group. There’s limits on resources and time, and we work really hard, but we really appreciate their assistance,” says Schoen. “We hope people’s responses give us some really good information and ways we can help them specifically. I think (MAPC) will synergize them and come up with some plans for the future, so that when things are moving and people are vaccinated, we’ll come back better than ever.”

Find out more here

Find the survey here 

Metropolitan Area Planning Council (MAPC) 

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