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4 Cultural Organizations Bid For Reduced-Rate Seaport Space

A rendering of 50 Liberty in the Seaport. (Courtesy Fallon Company)
A rendering of 50 Liberty in the Seaport. (Courtesy Fallon Company)
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Four cultural nonprofits are vying for reduced-rate occupancy in a new building in Boston's booming Seaport.

50 Liberty is situated along Fan Pier Park along the waterfront. The Boston Planning and Development Agency is working with the developers, Fallon Company, to allocate the space.

Eight groups applied for 13,000 square feet on the first and second floors of the 14-story mixed-use luxury condo complex. The finalists are Boston Center for the Arts, Cross Cultural Collective, GrubStreet writing center and Medicine Wheel Productions.

Here's a quick summary from their bids:

Boston Center for the Arts

Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) will transform the raw space at 50 Liberty into a vibrant, kinetic space dedicated to the artistic process, public engagement, and creative experimentation. We will create an arts venue, workshop, and collection of studios and project rooms, managed and programmed by BCA. The ground floor will be a new arts center, divided and used for two purposes: as a laboratory and exhibition venue for local and regional artists to create and present new, perhaps multidisciplinary, work; and the Maker Space, a workshop for artists and other creative that is equipped with cutting-edge tools and technology. The second floor will be a collection of 10+ project rooms and studios for temporary and short-term use, bringing a revolving group of artists and collectives to create new work and contribute to the growing cultural community in the Seaport.

Cross Cultural Collective

Recognizing the institutional barriers that exist in preventing Black people, POC and marginalized populations from having the ability to navigate complex bureaucracies and processes, Cross Cultural Collective (C3), a Black Arts Collaborative, has organized to reclaim space in the Seaport District, thus rendering the neighborhood more diverse and a truer reflection of the City of Boston and society as a whole. In our desire and effort to foster ujima — collective life of a community, working together and caring for one another via the healing medium of art and wealth-sharing, the Design Museum Boston will partner with Cross Cultural Collective (C3), a Black arts collaborative, by serving as their financial conduit. The Design Museum Boston, will support the Cross Cultural Collective by managing all fiduciary activities of the project and its subcontracts. This project will serve to uplift the voices of Boston’s Black community through art, and therefore day-to-day activities and decisions will be made by the Black people who have come together to form the Cross Cultural Collective.

GrubStreet

GrubStreet, the largest creative writing center in the U.S., currently based in downtown Boston, proposes a Narrative Arts Center for lease at 50 Liberty Drive in the Seaport. We will partner with Harvard Book Store, a successful long-standing bookstore, and Mass Poetry to create a vibrant space with year-round activity, catering to both local residents and workers and a diverse public from every neighborhood of Boston. Our Narrative Arts Center will feature [on the first] level: Bookstore, café/wine bar, performance space seating 150 people [and on the second] level: Creative writing classrooms, community lounge for writing/reading with kitchen, coworking space, performance space for 130 people.

Medicine Wheel Productions

Medicine Wheel Productions, Inc. (MWP) uses its current location 110 K Street South Boston for Civic and Cultural uses. We see relocation to 50 Liberty as essential as our projects and programs scale to meet the demands of creating a culturally inclusive city. ... Our programs and projects invite a coming- together of dissimilar participants as they are engaged in the creative process, from start to finish. Our model is that each of us is a spoke of the wheel, all integral parts of the whole. Our intention to animate, activate and energize 50 Liberty as a Cultural Hub.

Specific uses of 50 Liberty Civic Cultural Space include the Spoke Gallery / Flexible Performance Exhibition Space on the first floor and a reception area and gift shop on the second floor.

Julie Burros, the city's chief of arts and culture, says all of the organizations are proposing multi-use spaces that aren't residential or driven primarily by retail.

"That's the whole role of civic and cultural spaces — that it isn't necessarily a for-profit business, it's not a chain, but it's something that's enriching for the community," she says.

A decision on a winning bid is expected in the coming months. The public is invited to weigh in during a presentation at District Hall in Boston from 5:30 to 7 p.m. Monday, April 30.

Andrea Shea Twitter Senior Arts Reporter
Andrea Shea is WBUR's arts reporter.

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