|BOSTON – Friday, September 20, 2019 – Mayor Martin J. Walsh has joined GrubStreet, the largest creative writing center in the country, to kick-off construction of the organization’s new cultural space located at 50 Liberty Drive at Fan Pier in the South Boston Waterfront. The 13,166 square foot narrative arts center will serve as a literary destination with year-round programming for students of all ages and backgrounds.
“As we continue our work to create a diverse, welcoming Seaport for all, I am pleased that new development along Fan Pier has created this opportunity to bring an innovative cultural destination to Boston’s waterfront,” said Mayor Walsh. “GrubStreet shares our commitment to lifting up all voices and creating opportunity for all of Boston’s residents, and I am excited to welcome them to 50 Liberty.”
In December 2018, Mayor Walsh, the Boston Planning & Development Agency (BPDA), the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture and The Fallon Company announced that GrubStreet had been unanimously selected to operate civic/cultural space at 50 Liberty Drive. GrubStreet will receive a $25 per square foot construction allowance — totaling approximately $329,150 toward improvements to the space — and will pay $1 per year in rent.
The new location will feature a bookstore operated by Porter Square Books, an independent bookstore located in Cambridge. Additionally, there will be a cafe and community space for writers, a podcast studio and multiple classrooms to expand GrubStreet’s workshops. There will also be an event space for readings, slam poetry, storytelling events and shows that combine words with music and dance. Currently, the nonprofit organization operates programs at its Downtown location, and in neighborhoods including Dorchester, Roxbury, Mattapan and East Boston. This new location will allow GrubStreet to expand its programming and activate a collaborative space in the South Boston Waterfront.
“With this move, we look forward to becoming a dynamic gathering place for writers and readers of all ages, backgrounds and abilities,” said Eve Bridburg, Founder and Executive Director of GrubStreet. “GrubStreet’s new home will provide a space to learn, to share stories, to see dynamic performances, to celebrate book launches, and to make friends.”
The selection of GrubStreet follows a public and transparent process to select civic or cultural users to activate available spaces in development in ways that serve a diverse population. Following the release of a Request for Ideas (RFI) in January 2018, the BPDA received eight proposals, and in April 2018 hosted an open house where the top four respondents presented their proposals to the public. The selection process is modeled after an effort completed in 2015 when the Society of Arts and Crafts was selected as an operator of similar space provided at Pier 4.
The selection committee represented multiple departments across the City and considered criteria including public comment letters, the ability of the respondent to create a welcoming space that serves a diverse population, and access to the financial resources to build-out and operate space year-round.
The announcement builds on Mayor Walsh’s Boston Creates Cultural Plan, a ten-year city initiative designed to align public and private resources to strengthen cultural vitality over the long-term, and weave arts and culture into the fabric of everyday life. Since the launch of Boston Creates in 2016, Mayor Walsh has committed to leading the implementation of the plan by building City resources for arts and culture and creating the necessary partnerships to address the critical needs identified through the planning process. The full cultural plan can be found online at http://plan.bostoncreates.org.