An Arts Town Success Story

Not so long ago, the city of Somerville, Mass. was “dilapidated, a place where artists got harassed; they certainly didn’t hold court at major intersections or thrash about in the street like dying fish. Over the past 20 years or so, the stigma of living in Somerville has been reduced, if not completely removed. Whatever the general explanation, most folks credit local artists — and, on a larger scale, the visible integration of art into the community by the Somerville Arts Council (SAC) — for helping to revitalize the city and improve its residents’ quality of life. The SAC is much more than a funnel for state grants. It’s a relatively high-profile, community-based collective that not only produces independent cultural programming all year long, but works to draw out the artistic strengths of its community. Which makes Somerville a kind of local-arts-scene success story, a city in which the influence of art isn’t merely discernable, but recognized for helping improve the town’s very tenor.”