If not us, who? If not now, when? Blink, and the future’s passed. If we truly want to create a healthy ecosystem for the arts and culture to really thrive in Mattapan, then we must begin.
While currying favor with political and economic ‘bigwigs’ might alter atmospherics from time to time, this hasn’t even come close to producing any tangible results. Cajoling academics for data-driven research to prove our case has been a tenuous exercise at best.
Still, we know from the rising tide of evidence that the arts contribute substantially to the overall health and wellness of individuals; and by extension, to families and the broader community. Heather L. Stuckey, DEd and Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH explain it this way:
“More specifically, there is evidence that engagement with artistic activities, either as an observer of the creative efforts of others or as an initiator of one’s own creative efforts, can enhance one’s moods, emotions, and other psychological states as well as have a salient impact on important physiological parameters.”
(“The Connection between Art, Healing, and Public Health: A Current Review of the Literature,” The American Journal of Public Health, 2010 February; 100(2): 254–263.)
In other words, the arts uplift. Whether you engage the arts as a maker or as an audience member, creative activities have a positive effect on both psychological and physiological well-being. Here again, we see no reason why those who live, work or play in Mattapan would be an exception.
So we really like hearing that “building a better Boston involves growing inclusively, and investing in our neighborhoods” (Imagine Boston 2030, May 2017). And while we can definitely envision a Boston where “a vibrant cultural life [can] be found in every corner of the city” (BostonCreates, June 2016), what all of this might mean for Mattapan remains a mystery.
As a result, Mattapan Cultural Arts Development, in conjunction with the Mattapan Arts Council, will be gathering input from Mattapan artists, arts-service providers, and residents to forward specific proposals of our own. If you have ideas, we invite you to join us. Time is not on our side. While we wait, the future advances. Let’s begin.