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Advocacy Toolbox

Public Comment

Talking points, ready? Let’s workshop…
You have a total of 3 minutes to speak at public comment, how can you make your voice have as much impact as it actually can?
To start off, signup for public comment here: https://www.cambridgema.gov/Departments/CityCouncil/PublicCommentSignUpForm
Be sure to write out what you are going to say, and submit it for public record by emailing it to: clerk@cambridgema.gov
Let’s focus on a few things:
Financial
Touch upon how you earn your income from activities related to teaching, rehearsing, performing, etc. in Cambridge. Do you rely on arts organizations for those activities? Thinking on the other end, how do you help area businesses in this ecosystem? Think about the performances that happen here for instance, how many of your audience members go out for drinks or some dinner before/after your show? After/before your class? Rehearsal?
Cultural
What art-related culture do you bring to the square? Traditional arts? Contemporary arts? All exchange of these interactions between students/teachers, rehearsal directors/performers, performers/audiences provide an enormous amount of cultural wealth which makes the social web and heart of the square beat. It’s why people are attracted to an area, in this case, Cambridge and/or Central Sq.
Small Businesses
If you are creating, working, exchanging money with your artistic activities you more than likely are operating a small business of some sort. it either is a sole proprietorship (you use your name and SSN for the business), non profit, S Corp, C Corp, DBA, or any other myriad of business structures to define how you operate. As a small business you contribute to the economy and stimulate economic activity in the City/square. Talk about your arts business just the same as if you operated a brick and mortar.
 
Personal
Share your history with the square/City. How has your art depended on location, specifically Cambridge? Transportation options available (public transit and parking). For artistic exchange at the “crossroads”, transportation is pinnacle to making it possible. Or, maybe you have built history here watching how the landscape has changed? What was your role in this change? How has your relationship with the City/Square changed due to gentrification and development?
 
I think that’s enough to get you started. Also, letters are also great! If you can’t make it to public comment be sure to write the City Council CCing the City Clerk before the start of the meeting 5:30, Sept 14. emails are: citycouncil@cambridgema.gov, cityclerk@cambridgema.gov PM me if there is anything you are stuck on.
 
To signup for public comment is open now until 6pm on Monday, Sept. 14: https://www.cambridgema.gov/Departments/CityCouncil/PublicCommentSignUpForm

One reply on “Public Comment”

Advocacy email to City of Cambridge Draft-needs editing?

Central Square has been the major dance and cultural hub of the Greater Boston area since the 1970s when it moved from the Back Bay with the opening of the Joy of Movement Center (now the Dance Complex), in the Odd Fellows Hall on Mass. Ave. Central Square is an ideal location for the performing arts because of its accessibility by public transportation, availability of parking, tolerance for diversity and support of cultural activities.
I started dancing in Cambridge in 1976 when I became a member of the Art of Black Dance & Music which rehearsed at the King School on Putnam Ave & the Rise Club in Central Square. From 1978- 81 I taught in the Cambridge Community Schools, King, Fitzgerald, Webster, Joy of Movement Center and performed all over Cambridge at schools and festivals From1981-88 danced rehearsed and performed in Central Square with Impulse Dance Company, Expansions Dance Company, Danny Sloan Dance Company and participated in many collaborations made possible by the concentration of dancers, teaching artists and musicians who had the opportunity to convene in one general area. In the late 1980s and 90s I danced with Jose Mateo Ballet Theatre (Ballet Theatre of Boston) which got its start at 585 Mass Ave in Central Square and also trained at Green Street Studios, the Institute for Contemporary Dance and the International Academy of Ethnic dance all located in Central Square.
My husband and I earn our entire living from the arts. We both teach and perform. Since 2008 we have been operating an African Dance Company, Benkadi Drum & Dance at the Studio at 550 in Central Square. The company is a registered business in Cambridge which grosses about $23,000 per year and banks at Leader Bank in Central Square. We have been able to retain 20 dancers and musicians primarily because of the studio space and the training opportunities in Central Square. We run classes at the Studio at 550 which attract students from Boston and the suburbs to the area. Our company members and students frequent businesses in the area by going out to eat, or drink before and after classes and rehearsals and shopping in the area while they are there, It is unlikely that they would make a special trip to Central Square without having classes, rehearsals or performances to attend there.
The company also performs regularly in Cambridge and throughout Massachusetts. Cambridge performances and classes have included Let’s Move with Summer food classes in the parks, Danehy Park Family Day, Dance for World Community Festival, Cambridge River Festival, school shows at the Tobin School, Cambridge Montessori, Shady Hill School, Boys & Girls Club, and performances at the YMCA, Dance Complex, Green Street Studios, Harvard and MIT among others. As a small business we contribute to the economy and stimulate economic activity in the City. Without adequate, affordable studio space we are in danger of losing our livelihoods.
The need for studio space exceeds what one organization can provide. It is a necessity for dancers, actors and musicians to be able to come together, collaborate and build community. Central Square has been that community since the late 1970s. Without support the City of Cambridge will lose the artists as we struggle to survive. As artists we provide an enormous amount of cultural wealth, safety, and diversity to Central Square. People are attracted to the area for that reason. With the recent closing of Green Street Studios and the Middle East Restaurant we need help more than ever to continue to create a robust Cultural District in Central Square.

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