For over thirty years, the Council places creating arts space as central to its work.  We began by transforming Davis Square’s businesses windows into art displays through the Windows Art Project work in the 90s.  Then moved this program to Union Square businesses and then transforming vacant lots into outdoor public art displays.

We helped usher in the regions first Arts Overlay district with our 2009 zoning work in Union Square.  Read more on that work here–“Rezoning Union Square”

This 2009 work also brought the City’s first Artist Certification program.  When developers build “artist live work” units a policy is in place to ensure those units are occupied by certified artists.   The City has two artist live work buildings which support 8 affordable units.  Let’s build more.

In 2019, the City completed a zoning rehaul centered on form-based zoning.  Similar to our prior overlay district, arts, or ACE (Arts and Creative Enterprise) uses, have required 5% “set asides” in the City’s transformative districts in Boynton Yards and Union Square, and throughout the City’s commercial districts zoned CB, CC, FAB; high rise districts zoned HR; and mid rise districts zoned MR5 and MR6.

In 2021, the Council and other City departments, MAPC, and a Task Force, convened for 15 months to review the new zoning and upcoming development plans to ensure existing, and recommend new, policies to execute the zoning to support the arts.  This work culminated in the Arts Space Risk Assessment report.

Currently we are starting to develop policies and procedures to be able to match art space needs with new development.  Please complete our Arts Space Needs survey now so we have both and assessment of the current art spaces in the City and be able to reach you if you are looking for new space.   We include in this live/work questions.  While there are no current units coming on-line or turn over with existing units, knowing the demand will help us in planning and advocacy.   Please fill out our Somerville Arts Space Connector form.

In May 2021 we’ve also expanded our ability to provide rehearsal space for dancers and multimedia artists through our partnerships with Assembly Row, create rehearsal space available by the hour.  Check out SomArts Space initiative and sign up for this space.

And in March (2022) we have expanded SomArts Space to include temporary space in the Armory.   As well launching a BIPOC temporary space initiative. 

We hope you continue to join us to advocate for, build coalitions to create, more space for artists to thrive.