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Cultural Affairs and Recreation

The Cultural Affairs and Recreation subcommittee, chaired by Ken Krause identified ways in which the new city administration can highlight Medford’s diversity, growing cultural and arts community and opportunities for year-round recreational activities.

Executive Summary

Arts, culture, and recreation are vitally important to the social fabric of any community and the quality of life of all its residents. These are essential components of safe, healthy, resilient, and economically vibrant neighborhoods and districts. They have welldocumented multiplier effects on local spending, create local jobs, attract small businesses, and increase civic participation. Fortunately for Medford, our city is rich in distinctive assets that form the basis for strong cultural and recreational programs, such as diversity of many kinds; a fascinating history; talented artists and eager supporters of the arts; an array of well‐run community organizations; recreational venues that are both centrally located and distributed throughout the city; and ample open spaces. Such features often are cited as points of pride and reasons why people choose to live here.

What residents often find lacking, however, are adequate enabling and coordinating services by the city that would increase public access to these assets. In addition, insufficient or unpredictable funding inhibits their strategic development and the cultivation of shared responsibility for their stewardship. Medford is well served by numerous volunteer groups dedicated to arts and recreation, and these groups provide the vast majority of the city’s cultural and recreational programs. However, they likely are approaching or have reached the limit of what they can accomplish absent a significant increase in support from our city government.

Public input collected in the last six months, as well as the informed views of many organizational leaders here, indicate that there are a variety of identifiable gaps in serving community needs relevant to the subject of this report. Many of these areas of need can only be addressed with strong leadership from the City of Medford, and this report itemizes specific steps that could be taken to help ignite progress in the near term.

New and substantial contributions of support by the city are required to fulfill mission critical needs and to realize many opportunities to grow our arts, cultural, and recreational offerings so that they match those found in similarly sized cities with comparable levels of available resources. These contributions include:

  • Public championing of Medford’s cultural and recreational assets.
  • New or upgraded infrastructure that only the city can provide.
  • Dedicated city departments and staff.
  • Additional budget line items for arts, culture, and recreation.
  • Policy revisions that would elevate arts, culture, and recreation into all areas of city operations, especially planning.

Underpinning all of this effort should be a bold, inclusive vision that is derived from ongoing public input and that demonstrates a strategic approach to caring for and leveraging the tremendous assets owned by the City of Medford. By taking on the leadership role, and leveraging the expertise of the many established volunteer groups along with willing and eager citizens, the City of Medford can truly be a “Partner in Progress.”

Our committee’s overarching recommendation is that the city needs to play a leading role, rather than an occasional supporting role, in providing, nourishing, and expanding arts, cultural, and recreational opportunities for residents of all ages and abilities. To make a lasting difference, municipal leadership needs to prioritize cultural affairs and recreation in City Hall, increase administrative capacity with new personnel who have appropriate skills and credentials, and embrace multilateral collaborations with the extraordinary volunteer talent found throughout Medford. This report outlines concrete recommendations for short‐, medium‐ and long‐term actions that the city administration can take to achieve this.

Thank you to the Transition Team members Ken Krause (Committee Chair), Kelly Allen, Sarah Beardslee, Joan Cyr, Monique Doherty, Susan Fairchild, Anthony Petrelis, Gary Roberts, Paul Solano, and Donna Sullivan.

Report

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Priority Recommendations

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