News | August 20, 2014

Boston Approves Nation’s First Literary Cultural District

(Boston, MA)— The Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) Board voted unanimously today to approve the designation of the Boston Literary Cultural District. This is Boston’s second state-designated cultural district—the Fenway Cultural District was designated in 2012—and the first Massachusetts Cultural District to focus specifically on one art form.

The effort to establish the district was led by GrubStreet Founder and Executive Director Eve Bridburg. GrubStreet’s headquarters are located in the district which runs from Copley Square to Downtown Boston and is also home to the Boston Athenaeum, Boston Public Library, and the annual Boston Book Festival.

“I’m thrilled to announce the designation of Boston’s second Cultural District,” said MCC Executive Director Anita Walker. “We recently celebrated the designation of the first 25 Massachusetts Cultural Districts and I’m delighted to add the Literary Cultural District to this extraordinary group of communities.” 

A cultural district is a compact, walkable area of a community with a concentration of cultural facilities, activities, and assets. MCC’s Cultural Districts Initiative grew out of an economic stimulus bill passed by the Massachusetts Legislature in 2010.

It is designed to help communities attract artists and cultural enterprises, encourage business and job growth, expand tourism, preserve and reuse historic buildings, enhance property values, and foster local cultural development.

About the Boston Literary Cultural District
Shakespeare on the Common. A speakers’ forum featuring Alice Walker, or a book festival with Doris Kearns Goodwin. Walking tours that take you past Sylvia Plath’s apartment, just around the corner from Robert Frost’s residence, and Khalil Gibran’s….

All that, and more—poetry slams, writing workshops, readings, signings—can be found in Boston’s Literary Cultural District, the first such district in the country. From Washington Street to Exeter, from Beacon Hill to Boylston, Boston is crammed with literary happenings and history - probably more so than any other city in the country. Where else would you find an annual conference where aspiring novelists can meet literary agents who might be willing to peddle their work? Literary giants like David McCullough to Dennis Lehane? A vibrant community of writers and readers who partake of Boston’s rich literary life via readings, discussions groups, and other programs and events? An unparalleled literary heritage with a broad and diverse set of writers ranging from enslaved poet Phillis Wheatley to Henry David Thoreau, Anne Sexton, and Eugene O’Neill?

Hotels in the district offer literary tour packages. Restaurants like Carrie Nation offer themed literary menus. And institutions from the Boston Public Library to the Boston Athenaeum, Emerson College, Suffolk University, and GrubStreet have ongoing programs and events that cater to those who enjoy their relationship with the written word—or will develop one now that all things literary in Boston have been made more visible.

About the Massachusetts Cultural Council
The MCC is a state agency supporting the arts, sciences, and humanities, to improve the quality of life in Massachusetts and its communities. It pursues its mission through a combination of grants, services, and advocacy for nonprofit cultural organizations, schools, communities, and artists. MCC's total budget for the current fiscal year is $13.5 million, which includes annual grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and other sources.